Eating Tapas

Old Oct 17th, 2009, 06:17 AM
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Eating Tapas

We were looking forward to trying Tapas when we got to Spain. However, we found that the good tapas places are crammed with people ( not tourists), drinking, talking and having a great time. The chalk board listing the tapas was a bit confusing to know what was what. It was a bit intimidating....and I'm not great with noisy crowds. We met some young American tourists who had booked a "tapas tour" for their first night. It was an easy way to learn to negotiate the scene. Had we known about those tours we would have done it too. I don't know if it was their hotel that booked it, or some other way. But the tour avoided the big tourist scene and took them to the "real" places on the side streets. It was a great introduction to Spain at night. From what we observed, the tapas bars with a lot of tourists did not give their clients as interesting a selection of Tapas as we saw in some of the side street places, which we assume were more for locals.

We were amazed at the number of people out on the street at night. Crowds of people talking loudly & excitedly... and having a great time. Its vibrant street life. Kids out until 11 pm etc. Fun to watch however.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 06:32 AM
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What city were you in?
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 08:18 AM
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The more I read these boards, the more astonished I become at the things people seem to think they need guides for - eating tapas? How hard is that? I guess pretty hard or people wouldn't be able to capitalize on it and charge money for "tours."

Spanish is a simple language. Tapas aren't all that bizarre or original for the most part. Pretty much everyone can figure out if they're in a heavily touristed place or a place where locals hang out. In almost all the tapas bars I've been in in Spain they are displayed. You look, you smell, you evaluate, you point....need a "tour" to do that? I don't think so. Maybe I'm missing something.

Yes, Spain is a vibrant, late-night country. I can never get on schedule there.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 08:43 AM
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StCirq- the tapas are displayed? Great idea! Much better than having to look at a menu with my Spanish/English dictionary. My husband and I plan to have all our dinners at tapas bars since we'd rather not eat at 10.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 08:49 AM
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Almost every tapas bar I've been at in Spain had little dishes of tapas displayed, yes. I'm sure there are special, local ones you can ask for if you're "in the know" that aren't displayed, but my Spanish isn't good enough for that. There's also usually a chalkboard with them listed, which isn't that hard to figure out (I speak French and Italian, so it's not that much of a stretch). Eating tapas for me has always been the way to go in Spain, because I simply cannot eat dinner late at night - in fact, I just can never, ever get on the Spanish schedule, no matter how long I'm in the country.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 12:36 PM
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I certainly can see how a "Tapas Tour" would be very popular and fun for people unfamiliar with the city and/or the language. Of course one could do this themselves with a bit of research, but being escorted place to place, not getting lost at night and feeling instructed with some interesting anecdotes I am sure would please many.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 02:33 PM
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still....there are differences between tapas, raciones and pintxos....
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 03:36 PM
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Americans do not have a comprable experience to tapas except for a college bar crawl. Americans will eat their entire meal at a tapas restaurant, rather indulge the way the Spanish do.

To make things worse in the US, many other cuisines are offering "tapas" by simply offering small dishes of whatever they make.

As noted on another thread, for most Spaniards tapas is eaten between 5 and 7 PM to tide them over between lunch and a late diner. To me the most ubiquitous tapa is tortilla espanola which a thick omelet made with potatoes and onions. There are however, variations on that.

Because it is not a sit down meal but a quick sanck, crowds by a bar are very common.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 11:12 PM
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Aduchamp, you´re right, Spaniards don´t have tapas meals, it´s something we do BEFORE having lunch or dinner.
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 01:51 AM
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You can find a basic list of tapas at Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tapas
That should help you to get started and sort out those you don't like.

lincasanova also started a new thread on tapas. You can pull it up when you click on the name above.

From a general point of view, I don't think that a guided tour will necessarily take you to more "authentic" tapas bars. I think that those owners of bars who let the tour stop at their place do it to increase tourist traffic rather than to remain a hidden gem.

I think you just don't make too much fuss about tapas as maybe about real restaurants.. when you are thirsty or a bit hungry you just pop into the nearest bar and have a copa and a bit to eat. It's not as if you did not eat real tapas if you haven't been to bar X or Y in Madrid or Sevilla. Any full or lively bar is usually a good indicator that the food can't be all bad.
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