The Spanish are world famous for their relaxed way of life. Wherever you go in Spain, you’ll meet very friendly, open-minded people that are always willing to help you if you need it. Spanish love to talk with others and discover different cultures, as well as share their own. There is surely no better thing to do in the evening than to enter a Spanish bar and discover this culture through food, drink, and conversation. Almost everywhere you’ll enjoy a happy atmosphere radiating from lively discussions led by a glass of beer and a large scale of small appetizers called tapas. While the friendly nature and beer-loving are common to people all over the country, the tapas on offer may vary in different regions. Here is a brief presentation of the most interesting varieties that you can find in northern and central Spain, from Basque Country to Madrid and Barcelona.
Pintxos, Basque open-faced sandwiches
In northern Spain, mainly in Basque County, but also in Navarra, the most common tapas is called pintxos (or pinchos). In fact, pintxo is a sort of very small open-faced sandwich. It is prepared on Spanish baguette-style white bread topped with different local ingredients. Every pintxo is fastened by a toothpick for you can easily eat it, just like a canape – that’s why it is called “pintxo”, that means “spike”. The most common pintxos are seasoned with high-quality olive oil and mashed tomatoes or topped with fish (hake, cod or anchovies). You can also find pintxos topped with a traditional Spanish egg and potato omelette called tortilla des patatas. Tortilla des patatas can be mixed with fish, cheese, ham, or fried vegetables. A pintxo with tortilla de patata is a real must-try!
You can find pintxos in every bar and restaurant in northern Spain and it is just up to you which city you’ll choose to visit. The best ones with great evening atmosphere are surely the seaside cities San Sebastian (Donostia) and Bilbao, the capital of Basque Country. La Casa Agorria, situated at Máximo Aguirre Kalea 30, is a good option in Bilbao!
Montaditos, tiny filled baguettes
While pintxos is a topped slice of bread, montadito is a mini baguette sandwich. This is similar to the classic French-style sandwich based on the baguette, but much smaller. This kind of shared-food is extremely popular, especially for students. You can try montaditos at the restaurant chain called 100 Montaditos, which you can find all over Spain. Here you grab a table and you choose your set of montaditos from an extremely rich menu by filling in a order list and bringing it to the waiter. Once your order is prepared, you’ll be invited to take your order at the bar. The choice at 100 Montaditos is so vast, that you’ll surely have a difficult time choosing! There are fresh baguettes filled with cheese or ham, or fresh tomatoes and vegetables, as well as sweet varieties filled with chocolate or cream. They also often have a weekly happy hour where you can get sandwiches for 1 EUR (~1.12 USD) when you order a beer. Try 100 Montaditos while visiting Barcelona or Madrid with friends, and you’ll have a fun evening!
Tapas, classical appetizers from Madrid
Tapas are very popular in Madrid and Barcelona, where you can find particular streets or districts focused on tapas bars. Usually, daily tapas are displayed on the bar and you order them directly according to your taste. It is normal to order more than one of these tiny plates to eat while drinking some Spanish beer or wine. However there are some that are really popular tapas that you can find almost everywhere such as green olives, pimientos de padron (tiny fried green peppers with salt), queso Manchego (Spanish sheep cheese) or the famous jamon Serrano (the traditional Spanish dried ham). If you want to eat really good tapas, go to Meson del Champinon in Madrid, where you’ll find an extremely homely and convivial atmosphere with a perfect service.
Best tapas from northern and central Spain
Spain is an extremely rich country when it comes to cultures. Every region has something unique that you can’t find anywhere else. This article will present you with the most popular tapas from northern and central Spain.
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