Recommended Spanish Restaurants in London
There has always been a large Spanish community here, but the dining was dominated by tacky, second-rate tapas bars. A younger generation of chefs (some British) has kick-started a more modern cuisine just as they did in Spain, creating delicious alternatives. (Websites follow at the end of the listings.)
Just around the corner from Borough Market, our ever-expanding, quite wonderful farmers/artisan food producers/mostly organic/great fun foodie-heaven cornucopia, is this little corner of Spain, a bit of a deli and a lot of a restaurant. It’s plain and simple--you can eat standing or sitting, no tablecloths, no reservations, no frills. but there’s plenty of flavor on the plate, at bargain prices. It’s hot and spicy or sweet and sour, punchy and direct, the real deal: salt cod with aioli, lively gazpacho, char-grilled chorizo with warm spinach salad, pine nuts, and raisins, prawns in garlic and chili, roast chicken with garlic and smoked paprika, roast mixed peppers, tangy goat’s cheese. It is, unsurprisingly, packed at lunchtime; go early. The wine list is all-Spanish, and also good value.
Tapas Brindisa, 18-20 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TJ. Tel: +44 (0)20 7357 8880.
Open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday-Saturday 9 a.m.-11 p.m.
Nearest Tube: London Bridge
Nearby Attractions: the market Thursday-Saturday, Tate Modern, Thames walk
CAMBIO DE TERCIO
Cambio de Tercio, informal and bustling, set the course for good Spanish cooking. Flavors are loud and clear, unusual, complex: grilled sardines and walnut sauce, breast of duck slow-roasted in sea salt, monkfish roasted with garlic; sauces capitalize on the assertiveness of Spanish olive oil, balsamic vinegar (often with honey in sweet-sour combinations), or peppers. Pork and ham are served several ways, with imaginative garnishes. Itâ€™s a good place to take a hearty appetite and a relaxed attitude. Itâ€™s also good value, including the wide-ranging all-Spanish wine list, which includes a selection of dry sherries by the glass. Reds are glorious, some splendid Rioja Reservas, as well as Ribero del Duero and Penedes, and notable bargains from Priorato and Navarra, but at these prices exploration is painless. Finish with a dark, sweet sherry, perfect with the hot chocolate souffle.
Cambio de Tercio, 163 Old Brompton Road, SW5 0LJ. Tel: +44 (0)207 244-8970.
Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
Nearest Tube: Gloucester Road
Nearby Attractions: Christie’s Galleries
In this cramped storefront joint with a bit more charm than a bus station, on the edge of Bloomsbury, terrific food is being cooked up: steamed sweetbread and fried caper tart, clams with garlic and coriander, organic pork and clam stew, char-grilled langoustines with terrific romesco sauce; there’s also a sort of upmarket paella made with cuttlefish, prawns, clams, and monkfish. The wine list is also a wonder, a broad, deep and good-value selection from all over Spain, very well annotated, with some curiosities from elsewhere that are made from Spanish grapes (Ridge Mataro, Bonny Doon Grenache, Argentinian Tempranillo, for example). Sherries and others by the glass complete the picture nicely.
Cigala, 54 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1N 3LW. Tel: +44 (0)207 405-1717.
Open seven days a week for lunch, Monday through Saturday for dinner.
Nearest Tube: Holborn
Nearby Attractions: British Museum, Silver Vaults