Indulge in Tasty Treats of Spain; Tapas on the Camino
Spain’s best contribution to the culinary world is definitely tapas. Bursting with a myriad of flavors, tapas are small, savory dishes often served as appetizers with drinks. Tapas can be succulent pieces of fish cooked in garlic or an omelet (tortilla de patatas) filled with potatoes and onions.
The word ‘tapa’ translates into ‘to cover’. In the 19th century, innkeepers along the roadside used to offer small meals to exhausted travelers on a pot cover. That is how the famous Spanish custom originated. In Spanish culture, to ‘tapear’ is one of the most popular activities among the locals. The tradition is to go around sampling tapas along the Camino from bar to bar until you are full.
When you are on the Camino de Santiago, follow the tradition and hunt for tapas on the Camino in small bars and restaurants along the Way.
Where Can I Find the Best Tapas in Santiago de Compostela?
The Camino de Santiago is one of the most important Christian pilgrimage routes. Thousands of people travel from all across the globe every year with the intent to walk all of the Camino Frances or a section of this route or another Camino trail. Some travel just to visit the city of Santiago de Compostela itself. Either way, food is a major part of your experience on the Camino.
Santiago is located close to the sea so you can be sure the seafood tapas are delish and waiting for you to indulge your taste buds. Just a few minute’s walk from the Cathedral, near Praza do Obradoiro, there’s a fantastic street lined with food stalls, eateries, and restaurants. It is one of the best places to eat tapas on the Camino and in Santiago itself. Here you will come across places that specialize in all kinds of tasty treats. Keep wandering around, decide, then walk up to the bar and order whichever tapa you fancy.
For your convenience, I have compiled a list of my favourite restaurants and bars that are known to serve the best tapas on the Camino right in the city of Santiago de Compostela.
A Taberna do Bispo
A Taberna do Bispo is one of the best seafood tapas bars in Santiago de Compostela. If you are seeking a quick, but delicious, bite then A Taberna do Bispo won’t disappoint. They have a massive array of tapas to choose from. Slide up to a counter seat, choose your tapa from those on display, and pair it with a terrific drink like Albariño wine, hailing from Galicia! Some of the most loved tapas are fried squids, chorizo, bacalao croquettes, shrimps, calamari, and prawns. The place is rather busy due to its popularity but it is worth the wait.
Restaurante o Gato Negro (The Black Cat)
This Spanish restaurant in Santiago offers a perfect ‘tapas’ introduction to people who have never had tapas before. Restaurante o Gato Negro is a great place to snack on tapas whether you are a tourist or a local. Often referred to as a ‘quaint hole in the wall’, it is a place where old friends hang out to have a glass of chilled drink and a savory plate of tapas. A wide variety of dishes caters to a wide variety of tastes including seafood and vegetarian. Don’t forget to try out their home-style Galician soup at the bar.
Strolling through the quieter streets of Santiago de Compostela, you will stumble upon this rustic bar tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city. While it is a traditional wine and pintxos bar, Antollos does serve a large number of tapas as well. The staff is pleasant and super-attentive. If you are first-timer who is confused about what to order, they will patiently help you. They have seafood, cheese, empanadas, tortillas, jamóm, olives among many other Mediterranean ingredients. For cold tapas, you can walk up to the counter and pick it up yourself. For hot tapas, you can request a waiter to serve it to you warmed and delicious.
Travelers who want to relax and tapear in a family-oriented eatery should make a beeline for Milonga’s. The family-run restaurant has a calm ambiance, a lovely staff, and finger-licking small plates. They have a huge and delicious variety of tapas, pinchos, salads, wines, beers, cakes and so much more. The servings are large in quantity and prices are great. Calamari, extra virgin oil and garlic mixed seafood salads, patatas bravas, fresh chips, and fried squids are a must-have. Finish your meal with a piece of homemade cheesecake and a glass of chilled beer.
O París is yet another eatery that serves scrumptious tapas at a really great price. However, it is not as traditional as other tapas bars along the Camino de Santiago. This restaurant has a trendy American vibe to it, ideal for those who are feeling a bit homesick and hoping to munch on a familiar cuisine. Besides a range of tapas, you will find cheeseburgers, fried chicken, salads, and carrot pie here. If you are on a mission to try out all the city’s best tapas bars, add O Paris to your list.
How to Order Tapas on the Camino Like a Pro
Here are the dos and don’ts of these savory Spanish appetizers.
1. Don’t order everything at once
Tapas are not your usual meal. There are dozens of tapas already prepared and waiting to be served. Order two/three initially and you can take it from there!
2. Explore! Visit more than just one bar.
The general rule is you don’t have your tapas in just a single place. Follow the Spanish tradition and tapear with your pals from bar to bar. Go to a bar, order a drink and a couple of tapas, eat, and move on to the next place until you are full!
3. Are there any vegetarian tapas?
Yes, there are!. There’s a wide selection that includes Pimientos de Padron, salad, or tortilla (Spanish omelet). However, most tapas do usually contain a little bit of meat or seafood. The best thing to do is to tell the barman you are a vegetarian and would like a small plate without any meat.
Types of Tapas on the Camino You Should Try
If you are a foodie like me, you should not miss the chance to feast on the sweet and spicy tapas on your trip to Camino de Santiago. The Spanish appetizers mostly consist of traditional Mediterranean ingredients such as garlic, olive oil, cheese, and seafood. Here are some of the most sought-after tapas in the Spanish world:
The Spanish omelet is served as breakfast, fillings for sandwiches, and as a tapa. Cooked with eggs, pan-fried potatoes, and onions, Tortilla Española is the most famous tapa in Spain and also one of the most loved tapas on the Camino.
Gambas Al Ajillo
This tapa is perfect for those of you who love seafood and a garlicky taste. These finger-licking prawns are cooked in garlic, olive oil, and chili peppers. The result is simply divine.
Calamares a la Romana
These breaded fried squid rings are served across Spain and are considered a must on the menu.
Crispy on the outside and stuffed with ham, cheese, fish and mushrooms, croquettes are a favourite with kids as well as adults.
Paella is an ancient Valencian dish made with rice, vegetables, and meat.
Who said tapas have to be hot? Ensaladilla is a cold dish made with potatoes, mayonnaise, tuna, egg, and several vegetables.
Walk The Way and enjoy your scrumptious tapas throughout!