Looking for authentic Spanish tapas and paella in Sydney, Australia? These restaurants and bars serve some of the best small dishes in the city.
Before you even glimpse the menu, it's clear Bar Tapa is intent on transporting diners to Spain: there's an enormous Spanish flag painted on one exposed-brick wall and legs of ham hang above the bar. You could order paella but, unsurprisingly, where Bar Tapa shines is the collection of tapas. The patatas bravas have just the right amount of crunch, the pulpo a la gallega features plump chunks of octopus doused in paprika and the bunuelos de bacalao (cod fritters) are fishy without overpowering the creamy aioli. Cut through the saltiness with a glass of sherry.
78 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst; (02) 9358 3814
Bodega Tapas Bar
As soon as you enter Bodega Tapas Bar you’ll be captivated by a sensory extravaganza, with colourful murals swirling over the walls and the tantalising smells of Latin cuisine being cooked in the open kitchen. The menu is as interesting as the bar’s interiors thanks to the modern twists on traditional recipes frequently changing to stay current with the seasonal produce. The reinvented arepas offer an exciting new way to eat a normally simple food, combining the sweetness of corn and sharpness of the mojo verde sauce blended with a rich manchego.
216 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills; (02) 9212 7766
You can pretend you’re in an old Spanish town when walking down the cobblestone alleyway leading to the warm, wooden interior of Tapavino. Whether you’re alone or with a group, dining here calls for shared plates that are simple but interesting, such as the stuffed piquillo pepper with goats cheese and black olives. There are more than 300 Spanish wines to choose from sop speak with the staff for recommendations on the perfect pairing for each dish.
6-8 Bulletin Place, Sydney; (02) 9247 3221
Postales Restaurante and Tapas Bar
Postales comfortably sits 140 people but the deep red and gold walls softly illuminated by candlelight create a proper intimacy. The sizzling gambas al ajillo, cooked in garlic, chilli and tio pepe sherry, explodes with flavour, while the albondigas de carne features juicy grilled meatballs with a tingly aftertaste of spicy confit piquillo peppers and cherry tomato salsa. Make a night of it on a Saturday to be treated to multiple cabaret performances.
1, Lower Ground Floor, Sydney GPO Building, Sydney; (02) 9229 7744
Can Cava Pintxos & Wine
Just a short stroll from Bondi Beach you’ll reach this beachside eatery with its floor-to-ceiling doors flung wide open and local diners spilling onto the street. Can Cava Pintxos & Wine is buzzing every night thanks to its modern take on tapas. The grilled calamari with caper, lemon and chilli is fresh and summery and light, crispy batter while the beef short rib is delightfully juicy and rich from the tarragon jus.
101 Hall Street, Bondi Beach; (02) 9130 6062
Despaña makes authentic Latin cuisine with fresh ingredients imported from Spain as well as local Australian produce. The exposed brick walls create an urban charm but the focus here is absolutely on the food. The chorizo croquettes are a flavour sensation with the initial crunch followed by a creamy ooze of manchego cut through with citrus aioli, and the spiced cauliflower fritters tingle with hot smoked paprika.
101 Glebe Point Road; (02) 9660 2299
There is a wonderful sense of occasion when dining inside Sydney’s historic George Street building. Enjoy your food in the Antler Room, a dimply space on a white-marble-tiled floor with bold pillars reaching the high ceiling and three large antler horns backlit and mounted on the wall. Mercado sources all its ingredients from small farmers and growers so the menu changes each week based on available produce. The butchery, meat curing, bread baking and preserving are all done by hand, which lends each dish a bold flavour.
4 Ash Street, Sydney; (02) 9221 6444
A dining experience at Subsolo is all about the drama. Inside, you’ll find a rich Latin flair to the interious: deep red carpet, plush crimson curtains, extravagant black chandeliers and dim red lighting. The menu doesn’t hold back either. There’s tender pieces of octopus in the paprika-doused pulpo a la Gallega, while the burrata with basil oil and heirloom tomatoes is given an extra kick from a splash of gazpacho water.
161 King Street, Sydney: (02) 9223 7000
Barrafina Tapas Bar
Set in Sydney’s business district among the grand backdrop of sandstone buildings is Barrafina Tapas Bar, a modern and bustling mecca for city workers. Take a seat at the bar to question chefs on their dish recommendations and order big. The creamy, seared scallops contrast perfectly to the sprinklings of fiery chorizo – match a mouthful with the house-made sangria.
2 Bligh Street, Sydney; (02) 9231 2551
The attitude at Alegrias is authentically Spanish, with the food hearty and strong flavoured and the high-ceilinged space reminiscent of a village church. The patatas bravas is crispy and slightly salted with spicy brava sauce for a bit of zing, while the croquetas de jamon iberico ooze with melted cheese and golden fried ham. Get there on a weekend for live flamenco dance performances and musicians that get the whole restaurant up and dancing.
9/332 Darling Street, Balmain; (02) 8065 5686
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