Where to Find the Best Spanish Restaurants around Boston
Traipse from Boston to Barcelona and beyond with tapas and piles of paella.
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Spanish restaurants have a knack for elevating mealtime from a “cram food in your gullet and leave” sprint to a social meander of the menu. Grab a few pals and graze over a table-full of tapas—maybe some spicy grilled shrimp or melt-in-your-mouth manchego-filled croquettas—plus a few glasses of wine. Then, what’s the hurry? Might as well put in an order of saffron-rich paella, too. From a Somerville vanguard to a newcomer that traipses across the Iberian, check out this itinerary of tapas and more.
The Iberian-inspired Atlántico sailed the rocky waters of the pandemic and finally opened in October 2020. While the South End spot helmed by chef Michael Serpa showcases a wealth of Portuguese wine, it’s fair to say that most of the seafood-focused fare charts a course to Spain. (Though, do try the linguiça hash on the brunch menu, which hat-tips to the traditional Portuguese caldo verde soup). The glimmering interior matches the pristine, sharp flavors of its plates, from the simple joy of the matrimonio dish—just anchovies and olive oil—to the grilled Galician octopus served with a bright salad of white asparagus and mint. Do spring for the paella too. Overflowing with seafood and chorizo and bearing a bright gold hue thanks to the saffron, it’s well worth the half-hour wait.
600 Harrison Ave., Boston, 857-233-2898, atlanticoboston.com.
Barcelona Wine Bar
Sure, it’s a chain with roots in Connecticut, but don’t sleep on the singing flavors of Barcelona Wine Bar, with its wealth of shareable tapas and a handful of larger plates. The menu’s star might just be the spicy-sour-sweet small plate of smoky chorizo with caramelized figs. Finished off with a balsamic reduction, it’s enough to have you tipping the mini crock to your lips to guzzle the rest of the sauce. Shout out to the jamón and manchego croquettas with their dopamine hits of salty cheesiness, too, along with the bold simplicity of the roasted whole branzino served with just fennel and potatoes.
1700 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-264-8900; 525 Tremont St., Boston, 617-266-2600, barcelonawinebar.com.
With an artful atmosphere amplified by the tin ceilings and a Salvador Dalí-inspired wall of “dripping” plaster, Dalí was among the first Spanish spots in Boston, as the temple to tapas has been open since 1989. Sample some of the painterly plates—the patatas bravas with smoky aioli, pristine sautéed spinach that’s served with slivers of garlic and pine nuts, braised rabbit with red wine and an almost floral touch of juniper—and it’s no surprise why. While it’s tempting to get your fill of these morsels (do try the paella, too), be sure to save room for dessert, even if only the churros served with chocolate dipping sauce and dulce de leche. Each sweet bite is like ending your meal with a masterpiece.
415 Washington St., Somerville, 617-661-3254, dalirestaurant.com.
You’ll find the usual tapas talent at this South End eatery—the kicking and craveable garlic shrimp, the empanadas with artichoke, spinach, and creamy mahon cheese—but also a few creative riffs, perhaps best exemplified by the hamburgeusa de la casa. With Australian wagyu beef, Spanish manchego cheese, and crispy onion, the offering is a nod to chef/owner (and Madrid native) Julio de Haro and co-owner Lara Egger, who hails from Australia. While many of the tapas draw from de Haro’s family recipes, he’s not afraid to think outside the small plate, like with the addition of sesame miso and tomato chutney to the lamb sliders.
700 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-266-0443, estragontapas.com.
Taberno de Haro
Since 1998, chef/owner Deborah Hansen has been delighting with an expansive menu that traipses from the Brookline spot’s patio to across Spain, with both tapas and unexpected entrees. Take the arroz negro paella—perhaps a dark horse compared to the more locally available saffron-punched variety—which owes its jet-black beauty to squid ink. Gobble up the ever-changing specials, too, like the gazpacho, made with puréed tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and a splash of sherry vinegar, which helps cool down scorcher days. And make a plan to finish your feast with some silky flan.
999 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-277-8272, tabernaboston.com.
Executive chef and owner Joaquin Galan fuses the flavors of his native Spain into his menu of traditional tapas and paellas. He also specializes in pintxos, or small bites usually served on bread, like the pinxto de txistorras. Homemade chorizo—its paprika smokiness only boosted by a turn on the grill—paired with a crunch of crispy bread? Heaven. The six paella dishes range from the simple feasts of seafood to rabbit and vegetable variations, plus a hearty Catalán stew called Fideuà, with angel hair and seafood in a lobster broth. Having a slow start to your week? The $5 tapas specials (4-6 p.m., Mondays through Wednesdays) with all the crispy shishitos peppers and empanadas you can eat makes slogging through to the weekend infinitely tastier.
1612 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton, 617-730-8002, tascatapasrestaurant.com.
Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette are a chef-owner duo that outdo themselves. Case in point: Bumping Spanish tapas spot Toro, where the plates may be small but pack take-the-bull-by-the-horns flavor. Menu stars include dates stuffed with marcona almonds, blue cheese, and serrano ham, along with roasted bone marrow with oxtail marmalade. The locally sourced and sustainable focus of the menu means that some dishes are in flux, but be sure to sample mainstays from the jamon & queso section of the menu, including the rich Ibérico ham with nutty manchego cheese, which is made from sheep’s milk. Heads up that of the three large paella offerings, one is totally vegetarian if you’re not meat-minded.
1704 Washington St., Boston, 617-536-4300, toro-restaurant.com.
This gem in JP offers the unique experience to scarf down tasty small plates and then hit the back of the restaurant, where you’ll find a small shop selling books and vinyl records. Before indulging in some retail therapy, though, hit up the patio to cheers with some charcuterie (perhaps some serrano ham pilled on slabs of Buzzard’s Bay cheddar). The tapas menu rotates according to seasonal availability, though you can usually find goodies like paprika-packed shrimp, a delicate beet salad with whipped ricotta and passionfruit, along with spicy meatballs with silky manchego polenta. And the recent special of Basque cheesecake with sherry strawberries? Sounds like music to the taste buds.
470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-477-4851, tresgatosjp.com.