The 9 Best Spanish Tapas

Tempting Tapas for Your Next Dinner Party

Spanish tapas are Spain's signature snacks and small plates. They range from a simple bowl of olives or a wedge of cheese with bread to a recipe of shrimp and garlic or a slow-cooked beef dish. They also vary by region—you can travel throughout Spain and experience many different offerings of tapas. Here are nine of the most common.

 

  • 01 of 09
    Tortilla recipe; Spanish omelet recipe
    Ramón Espelt Photography/Getty Images

    No doubt about it, the Spanish omelet is the most commonly served dish in Spain and is also known as a tortilla de patata or potato omelet. It is such a popular dish, some call it "the national dish of Spain." It is made of 3 simple ingredients: eggs, potatoes and onions. It is not only served as a tapa, but also as a main dish for a meal and a filling for sandwiches.

  • 02 of 09
    Garlic Shrimp
    Sergio Amiti/Getty Images

    One of the most common and most popular tapas in Spain, this dish is quick, easy and full of garlic flavor. Fresh shrimp are sauteed in olive oil with plenty of garlic and a dash of cayenne pepper which gives this dish a little heat. Sometimes paprika and brandy are included. Your guests will be asking for the recipe after the first bite, especially the garlic lovers! 

  • 03 of 09
    Croquettes
    Asimetrica Juniper / Getty Images

    Croquetas or croquettes are a small, lightly breaded and fried sort of fritter. They are a sure hit as a tapa or an afternoon snack with a glass of beer or wine. These croquetas de jamon are creamy and smooth and very tasty. A bechamel and ham mixture turns into a dough that you roll into logs and coat with egg and breadcrumbs--then the cruoquettes are fried to golden brown.

  • 04 of 09
    Calamares fritos
    Fotoasturias/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

    Fried squid or in Spanish calamares fritos or calamares a la romana is such a simple but delicious and very popular appetizer or tapa in Spain and here in the USA. With a little preparation and close attention, you can make these melt-in-your-mouth calamares a la romana at home. Try to purchase cleaned squid for a quicker and easier process.

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  • 05 of 09
    Spanish Patatas bravas recipe. Get the recipe for traditional Spanish patatas bravas.
    Gary Conner/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Bravas Potatoes is one of the classic Spanish tapas dishes and is served in bars all over Spain. Fried potatoes are covered in a tomato-based sauce which has a slight bite from the Tabasco, hence the name bravas, which means "fierce" in Spanish.

  • 06 of 09
    Spanish Chorizo with Cheese
    Lisa Sierra

    This is a simple but delicious appetizer or tapa that everyone enjoys. It involves very little cooking and you can put it together at the last minute. Be sure to use Spanish chorizo and Serrano ham for best results. 

  • 07 of 09
    Pulpo Gallego
    Sergio Amiti/Getty Images

    Galician-style octopus is a traditional tapa from Galicia, served all over Spain today. It is very simple: cooked octopus that is served with boiled potatoes, olive oil, and sweet Spanish paprika. If you freeze the octopus first it will cut down the cooking time.

  • 08 of 09
    Boquerones en vinagre are a delicious Spanish tapa.
    Lauren Aloise/Spanish Sabores

    Fresh anchovies marinated in vinegar, oil and garlic are a traditional and very popular "tapa" in Spain. A good tapa bar always has a platter of boquerones on the bar and it is a favorite of Spaniards and foreigners alike. Make sure you purchase large, whole fresh anchovies for this recipe. 

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  • 09 of 09
    Tapas dish of fried stuffed mussels
    Getty Images/Trevor Wood

    If you have ever been to Spain, you’ve most likely tasted “tigres,” mussels that have been stuffed, breaded and fried. Making tigres at home does require a few steps, but you will find it is worth the time. The mussel meat is chopped and mixed with stuffing ingredients and placed back in a shelf half. The mussels are covered with a bechamel and breadcrumbs and then chilled. When solidified they are coated in egg and another layer of breadcrumbs before frying.