Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Please tell me about eating tapas in Spain

Please tell me about eating tapas in Spain

Old Jul 10th, 2006, 08:26 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Please tell me about eating tapas in Spain

I admit it. I've never eaten in a tapas bar - even in the US. When I read trip reports of families traveling in Spain, they seem to all say they ate tapas for dinner to avoid the very ate night dinners.

When I imagine the scene, I picture a crowd of people standing at a bar, pointing to stuff, not necessarily knowing what it costs, eating standing up, etc. That doesn't seem like a very relaxing family meal (esp. after a day as a tourist), so I must be misunderstanding how it works.

Please share, if you've eating some tapas "meals" in Spain.
missypie is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 08:27 AM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"eaten", not "eating."

Sure wish there was an edit feature!
missypie is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 08:31 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,719
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In most tapas places in Spain (in my experience anyway), you can order tapas from a menu with prices, sitting down at a table, as you would for any restaurant meal. Some people choose to stand or sit at the bar, but it's not compulsory!

We usually order a few tapas to start with and then if we're still hungry, order a couple more things and so on until we're full.
hanl is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 08:37 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 5,641
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
tapas i read got their name from tops that were put on the bowls of various snack fare to keep flies off - i wonder if this is true - the meaning of the word tapas?
PalQ is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 08:42 AM
  #5  
Pausanias
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I'm hardly an expert, but in my experience it varies bar to bar. I've sat at bar stools and ordered a steady stream, and I've brought orders back to a table. Prices as I recall were usually posted and in any event were not that expensive.

The trouble with bringing kids to a tapas bar is that they usually hate the sherry and normally don't like the beer. If they do like it, they invariably can't hold their liquor and end up woozily singing tunes from Barney,

Note too that some restaurants have a room for Americans and Austrians who can't wait for the local dinner time and want to dine early.



 
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 09:09 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 203
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We visited Madrid about 5 years ago to see my daughter was in a study-abroad program. We'd been prepped by a couple of fine tapas restaurants in our town (is Sacramento a city?), and the staff at those places helped clear up a couple of misconceptions. Like paella - a basically peasant everything-but-the-kitchen-sink dish that costs $25 a head here and needs about 45 minutes lead time ;-). My western conditioning puts my dinner hour at about 6:30 p.m. and in Madrid, tapas were my stomach's mainstays at cerveceria's during that 6-to-9 p.m. void before the restaurants open. And it made me wonder how western bars can serve alcohol without a snack to accompany it. You don't usually get to choose what snack appears with your 8-10 oz. beer or wine, but they're all savory and nicely filling. We all went to a late (10 p.m.) tapas dinner at a now-defunct place called Tapas Bar in Madrid that had themed multi-course offerings. We chose the seafood tapas, which started with smoked salmon, anchovies, calamari, gambas (shrimp) - and then progressed to main course items like a whole cuttlefish in green sauce, a whole roasted fish, etc. Wonderful meal that I remember fondly to this day!
ronin is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 10:57 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 169
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Meaning of tapas. The tapas were the "lids" or "covers" for the drinks. The barman would serve a glass of wine and then cover it will be a small plate to keep the flies out. On this plate, he would place a small treat which also became known as a "tapa" as well. The tapas are often salty so that the barman was both generous and sneaky since the tapa would make the customer thirsty and would need to order another drink.
holakjs is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 11:00 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
tapas did start out as a complimentary bread with something on top of it, placed on top of wine glass .. yes to keep fruit flies off, so they say.

it has evolved to individual "montaditos" (sliced bread with something on top, and plates of various different foods.

eating taps is just eating a variety and sharing a plate of food set down in middle of table.

although some of the dishes could be considered dinner, and ordered as such. however, most people share most of these plates, and call it going out for tapas in comparison to each person ordering a two course meal.
lincasanova is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 11:38 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,970
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In Granada last year, [Nov] we came across both types of tapas, sometimes in the same establishment. If you stood at the bar, they would bring the "house" tapas with the first drink, a different one with the second drink, another with the third...we never got beyond three! If you sat down, there was a menu with items in two sizes - "tapas" and "raciones", which are bigger. AS usual, it was never clear when you ordered quite what you would get, but we tend to "go with the flow" - which makes travel less stressful than being worried that what you receive isn't quite what you ordered. - and pickled sea-anenome doesn't taste too bad!
annhig is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 12:45 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Interesting thread...However I cant help thinking youve mostly approached the topic of tapas from an extremely "touristy" point of view. I mean this with no disrespect - going out for tapas really can be the highlight of a trip to Spain.

Ive spent a lot of time in Malaga and Granada - most recently doing a Spanish course in both these cities.

Id like to talk about tapas in Granada. Its generally recognised as the tapas capital of Spain, even by the Spanish. This may be due to the fact that there is a huge variety - and, amazingly, served free with your (alcoholic) drinks. The places Im talking about are the typically Spanish bars and bodegas and its often the case that you dont actually choose what you get but the barmen will be aware of what youve had so if you have 6 little beers he'll have provided you with 6 different tapas. Ive been in more touristy bars who dont serve free tapas to foreigners but the Spanish phrase: "No falta una tapa aqui?" might persuade the barman to give you one This basically means "Arent I due a tapas?"

Again, the establishments were by no means restaurants. They were bars serving free tapas and strictly followed the rules of throwing serviettes and olive stones on the bar floor.

I mentioned earlier about taking the "foreigners approach" to tapas. By all means dress up for these places - the Spanish do. And get excited at the chance to eat such an amazing variety of food for free! However, a real Granadino would never show that he finds being served a tapas is anything out of the ordinary. There is a God given right in Granada to be served a free tapas and I found that pretending its nothing special and not showing my delight and amazement, that I enjoyed them more and in the same way they are meant to be enjoyed - like a Spaniard!
mique is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 01:02 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Minque, after reading your response, it makes me very surprised that pretty much every trip report I've read of a family with kids visiting Spain mentions multiple tapas meals. Obviously, the kids aren't drinking alcohol. Are there such things as "family" tapas spots that these folks might have visited?
missypie is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 01:02 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,719
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In my first answer I approached the question from the angle it was asked - i.e. how to eat/order tapas as a family meal.

Of course as many have pointed out, it depends what part of Spain you are in.

For instance, in Andalucia you will commonly see some tapas dishes served in three sizes - tapa (small), media-racion (medium) and racion (large). Elsewhere in Spain you may not get this choice. And in Granada as Mique says, you'll usually get a tapa of some sort with every drink you order (I even know of a bar there where you'd get a gift along with each tapa, another where the free tapas are plates of fries with different sauces, another where the free tapas are Greek food served in miniature portions) - but I don't imagine with children you'd be propping up the bar ordering round after round of beers. Many people do order (and pay for!) larger portions of tapas in Granada, by the way.
hanl is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 01:20 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,286
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bilbao, Spain, Old Town

We tried to make a reservation at a bar that served tapas and food but couldn't get a reservation so we stood at the bar. Amazingly the bartender was from Miami Beach, had married a girl from Bilbao and moved to Bilbao. We ordered wine, selected tapas, threw the napkins on the floor, had a great time talking with the bartender, and at the end of the night, he asked us how many tapas did you eat? duhhhh, I don't know, I wasn't counting. He billed us with a wink and we paid.

Incidentally, after eating a few tapas and drinking a few drinks, we were offered a table in the restaurant by the owner. Seems they have a problem with people who aren't serious eaters (just want tapas) who take the tables. Seeing we were serious eaters, we were offered a table but said no thanks since we were now no longer hungry!

Later we walked around the old town and found a plaza with bars and other eating establishments with outdoor tables (if I remember right). Everyone was at these including babies in strollers.

San Sebastian

We were taken by Spanish friends on a Sunday afternoon. It was the same kind of deal - order a drink, pick your tapas, throw the napkins on the floor, and keep count of how many you ate, pay the bill. In San Sebastian, however, the bars were very crowded and it was difficult to eat, drink and talk.

Never saw a menu in either place.

Barcelona

Barcelona was different. We sat and ordered off a menu. This was a much larger establishment than the bars in Bilbao or San Sebastian.
Ronda is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 01:20 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,469
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
y'all are making me hungry...and thirsty
massagediva is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 03:28 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
in the really old days, you were always given a free tapa with your drink be it a beer, coke or wine.

unfortunately, this habit as been discontinued in some more profit conscious areas of the country. it is a real treat to go to a bar somewhere and have them place something to "picar" in front of you.. would be nice to do this everywhere, i think!

in reference to the children at bars, or if there are family style tapas bars..

these are called "bars" but they are not primarily for drinking. they are called "bars" because they have a "barra" (counter) where they serve people. Beer and wine are practically considered refreshments..

you might also call this place a Café/diner.

a place bascially for drinking alcohol would be a "bar de Copas"., not a bar.



lincasanova is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 03:30 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,635
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ronda: In Bilbao, what you call 'old town' is Casco Viejo. Although many people refer to the old city in many other places in Spain generically by that name, Bilbao is the only one where the rio Nervion actually shapes the Old City like a helmet (Casco).

Many Tabernas have 3-prices posted for Raciones or Medio Raciones, best for a group of people who want to 'nosh#39; They cost more if you are served at a table than if you stand at the bar and even more if you are served at the Terraza. You're generally not allowed tp carry your drink from the bar to the Terraza; but they often tend to be more flexible if you want to sit at a table (inside).
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 03:38 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh, I know so little about Spain! Mr. Ayllon tried to teach us about the country and culture in 10th grade, but I was so upset that he wasn't really teaching much of the actual language that I guess I didn't absorb much!
missypie is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2006, 03:46 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 44
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
tapas are by no means and evcening food only - though you are most likely consume it more seriously at night. In my Spanish pueblo blanco people have a drink and a tapa after - or during - a shopping round at the local farmers market. Some, more hungry than thirsty, would ask for bocadillos (sandwiches) or racciones (bigger tapas you order and pay for - tegular tapas you neither order nor pay for: they do come with your drink). For a bigger gathering - like impromptu meetings of various expat clubs (those clubs, in addition to having regularly scheduled official meetings with agenda, have equally regularly scheduled impromptu meetings at vatious tapas bars around noon, after shopping, but before the pueblos all establsihments, save restaurants, close for a three hour siesta between 2pm and 5 pm. Yes, ladies, in Spain eating is taken seriously: no shopping possible during siesta time - they'll bring bigger plates of various tapas to be shared. And at those places you can always ask for your favorite tapa, even the expensive jamon serrano or even more expensive torta del casar (sheep's cheese, to die for) - it pays to be a regular customer. Though, to my regret, nowhere in Andalusia have I been served "patatas bravas", a tapa (or rather raccione) I eagerly enjoy anytime I am in Barcelona. So during the last trip to a Boqueria in Barcelona I bought a tapas book and now can make papas bravas myself.
Anciana is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2006, 04:40 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,514
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Tapas: "lids", normally small portions of food served for free in bars (not restaurants) when you order a drink. You don´t choose, normally, and you are given them. From a small piece of bread and chorizo to meatballs, or mussels, or just olives...Normally, FREE, and served in most "common" bars, except in the Basque country, where we have

PINTXOS: Small elaborated pieces of art in the form of food, that cost around a euro each. You choose the pintxo(s) and pay when you leave, telling the bartender how many you´ve eaten (honour based payment, always). To be found mainly in the BAsque Country and Navarre. We like to go from one bar to another having a small drink (a zurito- tiny glass of beer- or a glass of wine), we do not intend to get drunk but to enjoy a conversation and have a few pintxos.

RACIONES: you normally have them seated, at a bar or at the bar section of a restaurant. They are like tapas but bigger (although smaller than a restaurant serving), you choose and you pay for them. It is common use to share the raciones among the seaters and not ordering "your own".

Hope this helps.

mikelg is online now  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
DeborahAnn
Europe
14
Jan 5th, 2014 08:49 AM
javacurls
Europe
18
Nov 21st, 2006 11:30 PM
diane_c
Europe
6
Oct 11th, 2004 03:25 AM
FainaAgain
Europe
7
Jul 23rd, 2003 09:34 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:04 AM.