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Feast on small plates at small prices
By Steph Dye (follow Steph on Twitter: @HelloIAmSteph)
Whether you are looking for a quick snack with a drink or a complete meal, tapas is an easy, flexible way to eat out with friends as you can order as much or as little as you want, depending on how hungry you are. This also makes it more affordable, as you can stick to a budget easily. So, we have scanned the whole of London, from east to west and north to south, looking for the best, budget tapas that the city has to offer.
In order to fit it to your budget even more, we have attempted to mark out the cheaper and more expensive venues on our list. £ = VERY cheap, lots of dishes for under a fiver and a meal for less than £20. ££ = moderate prices, lots of plates cost around a fiver, and a meal will cost about £25. £££ = more expensive, will be closer to the £30 mark. And before you freak out the idea of paying £30 for a meal, please understand the prices given are the very MAXIMUM you will pay for one person going out on their own, which is obviously the least cost effective way of eating tapas. So take a big group of friends out and eat some great, affordable tapas on us. You’re welcome!
#1 | PIX | Various locations | £
What is it?: Small, cave-like tapas bars with self-serve hot and cold dishes. There are just two prices, dictated by the long and short cocktail sticks that are included in each small dish. On a Sunday, you can help yourself to all the tapas and cava you can handle in a 90 minute sitting for ‘Infinity Sundays’ (£33).
How much is it?: £2.25/£3.25 for each small plate and so for a filling dinner, you’ll probably pay between £15 and £24.
Where is it?: Carnaby, 24 Ganton Street, W1F 7QY; Covent Garden, 63 Neal Street, WC2H 9PJ; Notting Hill, 185 Portobello Road, W11 2ED; Soho, 16 Bateman Street, W1D 3AH.
When is it?: Check out the website for specific opening times.
Try: Serrano ham and bechemal croquettas with all-you-can-drink cava.
PIX also has an unlimited offer at the weekends, check the our list of all-you-can-eat deals here.
#2 | Miss Tapas | Peckham | ££
What is it?: A modern take on the traditional tapas theme: classic tapas favourites (with a few unusual specials thrown in) set in a trendy, modern and smart restaurant – think bare brick, and exposed bulbs. A happy mix of high quality Spanish ingredients with a few Peckham favourites thrown in for good luck.
How much is it?: Tapas dishes range from between £2 and £10, meaning that it’s entirely up to you how much you spend. However, as long as you keep away from the most expensive dishes (mostly specialty hams) you can have a satisfying meal for about £20-£25.
Where is it?: 46 Choumert Road, Peckham, London SE15 4SE.
When is it?: Tuesday-Sunday, 12pm-3pm & 6pm-11pm.
Try the: Fresh and delicious tortilla with aioli (£4.20).
#3 | Escocesa | Stoke Newington | £££
What is it?: Owned by an ex-record producer, Escocesa (literally meaning Scottish is Spanish), is an attempt to stop Scotland’s best seafood from being sent over to Spain, by cooking Spanish food in the UK instead. The restaurant is smart and sleek and -if you get in there early enough- try to get a seat by the open kitchen for more of a show!
How much is it?: Definitely the most pricey on our list; however you are paying for the quality of the ingredients used. With plates costing between £2.50 and £10.50, we reckon dinner will cost you between £25 and £30.
Where is it?: 67 Stoke Newington Church St, Stoke Newington, London N16 0AR.
When is it?: Monday-Thursday, 12pm-10pm; Friday & Saturday, 12pm-10:30pm; Sunday, 12pm-9:30pm.
Try the: Though it’s expensive, you should try at least one plate of seafood – Perhaps the garlic prawns (£8.50) or specials, which change daily but have included langoustine, hand-dived scallops or razor clams.
#4 | Galicia | Notting Hill | £
What is it?: When something is as popular with locals as Galicia is, you know it’s got to be good and this restaurant is no exception. Don’t go here for suave service or a fancy dining room. Go here for the traditional Spanish experience, with perfectly cooked tapas with influences from all over Spain.
How much is it?: Tapas range between £3.95-£8. Plus there is a very good value set menu for £11.50. A meal will probably cost you no more than around £20.
Where is it?: 323 Portobello Road, London W10 5SY.
When is it?: Tuesday-Saturday, 12pm-3pm, 7pm-11:30pm; Sunday, 12pm-3pm, 7pm-10pm.
Try the: Pollo al ajillo or garlic chicken (£4).
#5 | Copita | Soho | ££
What is it: From the people that also created Barrica, Copita is a a traditional spot in the centre of Soho. It moves away from the more traditional items most commonly seen on tapas menus whilst also playing with how other cuisines can work within a small plate format. If you don’t mind sharing (you are after tapas after all) as the tables are long and shared and you don’t mind being adventurous, this is the place for you.
How much is it?: Tapas range from £2 to £9.10. However, be warned that the tapas is ‘traditional’ in the idea that each plate is very small, maybe just three or four bites. Therefore you will need more plates than usual. This means it will cost at least £25 to make up a filling dinner.
Where is it?: 26 D’Arblay Street, London, W1F 8EP.
When is it?: Monday-Friday, 12pm-4pm & 5:30pm-10:30pm; Saturday, 1pm-10:30pm.
Try the: Pork jowl, butterbean puree and raisin (£6.95).
#6 | Barsito 57 | Clapham | £
What is it?: A tiny neighbourhood tapas bar located down Clapham-ite favourite Venn Street. With barely enough space to rest your elbows whilst eating, you don’t come here for a relaxed eating experience, however the simple menu is well executed and reminiscent of eating tapas in a bar in it’s native country.
How much is it?: Tapas ranges from £1.50-£6.95 and the menu is fairly small, though we suggest taking friends to share one of the meat or cheese sharing platters (£10). Dinner should cost no more than £20.
Where is it?: 57 Venn Street, London SW4 0BD.
When is it?: Tuesday-Thursday, 5pm-11pm; Friday, 5pm-12am; Saturday, 1pm-12am; Sunday, 1pm-11pm.
Try the: Iberian pork cheeks braised in sherry and orange sauce (£6.95).
#7 | El Parador | Camden | ££
What is it?: A small, family run tapas restaurant with an outside garden terrace which is perfect for enjoying tapas and a glass of sangria on summer evenings. The restaurant has been open since 1988 and hasn’t be updated since then but the vibe is great and it has a firm local following.
How much is it?: Tapas costs between £1.90 and £9.50. A meal will probably cost around £20-£25. There is also a 3-for-2 offer on all tapas on weekday lunchtimes.
Where is it?: 245 Eversholt Street, London NW1 1BA.
When is it?: Monday-Thurday, 12pm-3pm & 6pm-11pm; Friday, 12pm-3pm & 6pm-11:30pm; Saturday, 6pm-11:30pm; Sunday, 6:30pm-9:30pm.
Try the: Bread with fresh aioli (£4.80) or the grilled, marinated octopus (£8.90).
#8 | Seven at Brixton | Brixton | ££
What is it?: A trendy cocktail and tapas bar overlooking Market Row, which is perfect for people watching. There are actually four different rooms, each with a slightly different vibe and the bar also regularly hosts local artist exhibitions, so that you can sit amongst the installations!
How much is it?: The tapas menu is small and plates cost between £2.50 and £7.25. A satisfying dinner will cost somewhere between £20 and £25.
Where?: Unit 7, Market Row, Brixton, London SW9 8LB.
When?: Monday, 9am-6pm; Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-11:30pm; Sunday, 10am-11:30pm.
Try the: Aubergine marinated in garlic, chilli and mint (£4.50).
#9 | Bar Esteban | Crouch End | £
What is it?: A relaxed, chilled out bar and restaurant with an eclectic mix of furniture and artwork. The owners are local residents, so it’s no wonder that Bar Esteban already has a loyal following of local crouch-enders…
How much is it?: Tapas cost between about £2.50 and £8. A meal should cost under £20 for something delicious.
Where is it?: 29 Park Road, London, N8 8TE.
When is it?: Monday-Thursdays, 12pm-10pm; Fridays & Saturdays 12pm-11pm; Sundays, 12pm-9:30pm.
Try the: Chicarrones (£6.50) which are crispy pieces of pork belly or the jamon croquetas (£4).
#10 | Camino | ££
What is it?: Inspired by a roadtrip, travelling the length of Spain in a mini in 1984, Camino attempts to bring the tastes and flavours of Spain encountered on the trip to their London restaurants, using top quality, seasonal ingredients and authentic cooking techniques.
How much is it?: The plates range from £2.75 to £14.75, however only the specialty hams and steak are really pricey. On average, you would probably expect to pay £20-£25.
Where is it?: Camino Bankside, 5 Canvey Street, London SE1 9AN; Camino Blackfriars, 33 Blackfriars Lane, London EC4V 6EP; Camino King’s Cross, 3 Varnishers Yard, The Regent Quarter, N1 9FD; Camino Monument, 15 Mincing Lane, London EC3R 7BD.
When is it?: Opening times vary depending on location, check the website for details.
Try the: Padron peppers (£5) or the Iberico meatballs (£5.95).
Not feeling tapas? What about Asian food instead?
Or perhaps you are more of a breakfast person?
Don’t forget, if you know of any other great cheap joints that we’ve missed, tweet us to let us know…