Is Spanish style tapas the future?

Well, without knowing it, the last few months of my food journey in this amazing life seems to have taken me along the Spanish route of “tapas”. Sandwiched in-between a weekend visit to Madrid (the city not a new restaurant in Bristol) and some great visits to an ever growing trend led me to ask the above question. Is it the future of how we order and eat out or is it just a fad that will disappear as quick as it has arrived?

The word “tapas” when I researched it had a few meanings and it’s about which one you prefer to believe. My favourite is the Spanish King Alfonso the 10th, also known as ‘The Wise’, was taken ill and had to take small bits of food with wine between meals. Once recovered, the wise king decreed that no wine was to be served without being accompanied something to eat. This also helped those who were too poor to eat and just drank. Now our politicians could do worse than do something similar in our country!

So where can we get good “tapas” I hear you all ask?

Well, you lucky people (especially from Bristol), I have sampled quite a few – just for you, honestly! The one place people are going to be screaming at me to say who know this area is on Cotham Hill. Apologies but they are so popular we can never seem to get a table! But it is on my list.

The Olive Shed – Harbourside

Sat on the harbourside and maybe now in the shadow of the newly erected Cargo in Wapping Wharf, this small but well-positioned tapas bar ticks every box for me, especially when the sun is shining. Great views, nice outside area and a buzzing atmosphere coupled with a non-offensive menu.

Plenty to choose from but not too much so you can’t decide. We went for some traditional dishes like “potato bravas” and added some other tasty dishes such as “chorizio herbs and pearl barley.” Wash this down with a Spanishh lager and watch the people walking past on the harbour. Does life get any better than this?


Polpo – Whiteladies Road

Tapas done the Italian way? Or as they describe their food “small plates” inspired from backstreet bars in Venice. What I love most about this place is the atmosphere. Those who read my blog, know this is huge on my imaginary list of restaurants ‘must haves’. It is difficult to put your finger on, but maybe it is because they encourage walk-ins, which adds to the ambience. The staff are casual but attentive and they just love to recommend if you are a virgin to tapas. As you know I am not a food critic but please order the meatballs and then spread the word to your friends, but only you really like.

The staff are casual but attentive and they just love to recommend dishes, which is helpful if you are new to tapas. As you know, I am not a food critic but please order the meatballs and then spread the word to your friends, (but only the friends you really like).


The Bristol Lido

I know what you are thinking! Surely this is a swimming pool? Well, yes it is! Oh and a spa (please visit and treat yourself you won’t regret it)! More importantly, back to the food. The Lido also have an amazing restaurant and bar, which is both casual and formal, depending on your need. On

On arrival, you can choose where you sit as the staff are chilled and laid back. The menu once again is simple but with plenty to choose from, with also a few specials. The lamb special was out of this world and make sure you order bread, how do they get it so fluffy? The view is outstanding, the company is first-rate and watching all those people swimming up and down makes me want to eat more. Difficult to find but well worth a trip. (It was really tough what photo to use but the view won. Also, the featured image is from The Lido so its a win win)!



Madrid v Bristol – the battle of tapas

So how does our authentic tapas compare to our more experienced Spanish friends? Well, it’s true, maybe we have some work to do, but remember they have had over 1000 years head start – so taking that in mind we are doing ok. Tapas is

Tapas is Spain seems more premium but with the cost of living being lower there, this clearly makes a difference with what they produce and offer. The Madrid tortilla is out of this world and something that we have tried to copy but to no avail. I wonder what our Spanish friends think of “Bristol tapas”? I would love to know.



Tapas, certainly in Bristol, is really starting to play a major part in the “Bristol food scene” and I am thankful for this, as there is nothing better than having 4 or 5 items sat in front of you, instead of the standard 1 main course. I understand it’s not for everyone, and some people are not happy to share, but I love small dishes washed down with good wine, and it seems a lot more casual. Is it here to stay? I do hope so.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. andyboywales says:

    I’m with you all the way – we enjoyed tapas at Curado Bar in Cardiff today – delicious! Another great blog, Mark.


  2. Tapas is definitely the future (or maybe I’m biased because I’m Spanish 😅)


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