Tapas 101: Everything you need to know to act like a local

“Ir de tapas” is a tradition deeply rooted in the heart of Spanish culture. On this post, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to savor tapas like a true Spaniard, ensuring your tapas adventure is as rewarding as finishing your walking on a Camino day.

What are tapas?

Tapas aren’t just small plates of food; they’re a celebration of life, friendship, and shared moments. Seriously – I’m not exaggerating a bit! In Spain, these gastro-treasures are more than just a meal; they’re a social event, a chance to gather with loved ones. So as you start on your walking holiday, get ready to embrace the spirit of camaraderie that tapas embody.

Vegetarian dish restaurants Camino Frances

The Art of Ordering

Upon entering a tapas bar, let go of the formalities of being seated and instead find a cozy spot at the bar or a table. It’s customary to order directly from the bartender or waiter, so don’t be shy about striking up a conversation and seeking their recommendations. Ask them if there’s something in particular you should order, how many tapas would them consider “enough”, or if it’s better to order 3 tapas or one “ración” (a dish to share). They’ll be happy to help you and you’ll end up discovering the best of each place!

Exploring Tapas Delights

Now, let’s talk about the most exciting part – deciding what to order! From crispy patatas bravas to succulent gambas al ajillo, the world of tapas is filled with options to awake your appetite.

Here are some must-try classics, a handful of recipes as a starting point:

  1. Patatas Bravas: Crispy fried potatoes drizzled with spicy tomato sauce and creamy aioli.
  2. Tortilla Española: A hearty omelet filled with tender potatoes and (sometimes) caramelized onions, served in thick wedges.
  3. Gambas al Ajillo: Plump shrimp sautéed in garlic-infused olive oil, bursting with flavor.
  4. Jamón Ibérico: Thinly sliced, melt-in-your-mouth cured ham, a Spanish delicacy.
  5. Croquetas: Creamy croquettes filled with a variety of delicious ingredients like ham, cheese, or seafood.

Feel free to mix and match, and try new flavors!

Tortilla on the Camino Ingles
Tortilla Española

You’ve had a blast – how do you tip?

Tipping customs in Spain are a bit different from those in the United States. While tipping isn’t obligatory, leaving a small amount as a gesture of appreciation is always welcome. For a coffee and a bite, leaving around 0,5 € can be enough. For bigger meals or more people, simply round up the bill or leave around 5-10%.

Embracing the Experience

As you start on your tapas adventure, prepare to enjoy the ambiance of Spanish bars. You’ll find lively conversations, locals looking to share their stories, and fellow travelers. Remember, in Spain, meals are meant to be savored, so take your time, enjoy each bite, and embrace the experience!

In conclusion, going for tapas like a Spaniard isn’t just about enjoying delicious food; it’s about embracing a way of life centered around connection, celebration, and the simple joys of sharing a meal with loved ones. So as you start on your walking holiday, remember not to only say ¡Buen Camino!, but also ¡Buen provecho! (Enjoy your meal!)

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