In Seville, new fancy eateries are less and less difficult to find, but locals aren’t about to turn their backs on one of the most recognisable emblems: the traditional tapas bar. You can identify them easily, a typical tapas bar must be affordable, loud, buzzing, run by efficient waiters –not necessarily over courteous— and where ink is substituted by chalk and paper by the counter.
Despite its popularity inside and outside Spain, the origin of the name “tapa” remains uncertain. Not in vain, numerous legends try to explain its existence. Among the most popular ranks the story of King Alfonso XIII, which, during one of his journeys in Andalusia, stopped at a restaurant in Cadiz. The waiter, with the characteristic wit of the Gaditanos, covered the King’s drink with a slice of jamón to protect the glass from the sand. In sheer delight, the King ordered a second sherry, forcing the waiter to add once again the cover or tapa on top.
Irrespective of its origins, you must know, and follow, some essentials before going for tapas.
- Tapas make reference to the size, not the content. Almost everything is susceptible to be in a tapa or small portion, while it is also true that certain meals like red meat are more difficult to find in this format.
- Tapas are normally offered at the counter, and tables are usually reserved for larger plates or raciones.
- Tapas bar open around 1pm and close around 5pm, they don’t open again until 8 pm and don’t close until late.
Bodeguita Romero is one of the most emblematic family-run bars that stood the test of time admirably. The famous pringá, a sort of sandwich made with the leftovers of the local stew, gained a legendary status. The codfish in olive oil with salmorejo, a tomato sauce similar to gazpacho but thicker, is also a must. His brother Bodeguita Antonio Romero is famous for another sandwich. The Piripi, with bacon, a slice of tomato, pork and alioli, is the lure of a younger but still local crowd.
Casa Morales, also in the centre, charms with its décor and bodega. The place is fast-paced, noisy and vibrant, like any self-respecting tapas bar should be. If you arrive early you might be lucky enough to try the spinach with chickpeas, their signature dish.
If you feel like having an aperitivo before going for a full dinner, then Taberna Manolo Cateca is the best choice. This great bodega offers a wide choice of typical sweet wines, which are imperatively to be savoured with a tapa of jamón.
For those looking for a more elaborate (and seated) meal, and not easily impressionable by an unabashedly bull-heavy decoration, Bodeguita Casablanca is the place. They normally serve a tapa of potato salad with your drink of choice. You might not believe us, but it is exquisite.
At this point you might be running a risk of a meat overdose, so take note of La Trastienda. The latter may not seduce at first glance, but if you are a seafood lover, this super simple and low-key place offers it as fresh as its beer.
Any attempt to list the best tapas in Seville has to include the neighbourhood Triana. The traditional tortilla, with a twist of whisky and garlic sauce, is a must in Casa Cuesta. For the more daring ones, try the toro tail tapa. In the same neighbourhood, Sol y Sombra is another institution we highly recommend (and which we also include in out list of most genuine bars in Seville).