Tony Clayton-Lea has rounded up 10 of Ireland’s best Tapas Restaurants. With many of us focused on getting out as much as possible and reconnecting with friends and family, what better way to make the most of a catch up than sharing delicious dishes in laid back restaurants.
In no particular order we present Ireland’s 10 Best Tapas Restaurants.
LAS TAPAS DE LOLA
Long established as the place to go to in the capital if you’re hankering after an evening of the best of Spanish wines and tasty morsels, Las Tapas de Lola knows its food inside out. The joint always seems to be jumping, especially after those anxious pandemic months, but it’s the kind of noise you can dig into: people chatting, laughing and – the best bit – sharing food hand over fist. What we’d make a beeline for if we were there right now? Fried Padrón peppers and traditional Barcelona bombas.
Where: 12 Wexford Street, Dublin
One of the telling taglines for the vibey Cask is ‘Eats & Beats’, and from it you can determine its ethos: a food policy that is as diverse as the multitude of cocktails, wines and music it delivers. The food is why we’re here, however: a multinational melting pot of small plates and tapas that have to be shared, no arguments. What we’d make a beeline for if we were there right now? Bravas Spuds (twice-cooked potatoes, brava and gubbeen farmhouse chorizo sauce, honey garlic aioli).
Where: 48 McCurtain Street, Cork
SOLAS TAPAS BAR
Overseen by chef/co-owner Nicky Foley, Solas has progressed in proverbial leaps and bounds since it opened its doors almost five years ago. The menu showcases what the restaurant describes as the ‘Solas Experience’, and that description doesn’t tell fibs, believe you me. What we’d make a beeline for if we were there right now? Cured Irish salmon, grapefruit and avocado, cucumber pickled cockles, and potato seaweed croquettes, mushroom, truffle ketchup.
Where: Strand Street, Dingle, County Kerry
No television, no music (piped or live), no Wi-Fi, no website and absolutely no reservations? Welcome to The Gravediggers, a Dublin/Irish institution that doesn’t apologise about anything – especially its decision not to serve tapas on Sundays or Mondays. You may validly ask why should you visit when you don’t know what’s on the menu, and all we can say is this: it will be worth your time, so take our word for it. What we’d make a beeline for if we were there right now? The menu changes regularly, but let’s hope the venue’s mac’n’cheese option is on it.
Where: 1 Prospect Square, Glasnevin, Dublin
We discovered this South American tapas place by its large-scale (and beautiful) outside murals but when we walked inside we were also hit not only with the overall interior design but also with a comprehensive menu that far exceeded our expectations. Truth? The only thing that stopped us from eating was our stomachs just couldn’t take anymore. What we’d make a beeline for if we were there right now? Every damn thing on the menu! (Perhaps more seriously, the dessert menu is, by a long mile, the best we have ever seen in a tapas restaurant.)
Where: 19 Middle Street, Galway
Chef Matty Murphy travels a lot, and when he returns home he makes sure to incorporate his culinary discoveries into Ora’s tapas menu, which is rightly regarded as one of the best in Ireland. As the website states: “fusion meets classic…” What we’d make a beeline for if we were there right now? Either the Bang-Bang Chicken with spiced madras coleslaw or Hot & Sour Thai seafood broth, with spiced cabbage spring roll. Yowsa!
Where: 12 Great Victoria Street, Belfast
Yes, it is pricier than other tapas restaurants, and it is, you might delicately say, hiding in plain sight due to its unpretentious design, but Uno Mas bounces back via its ‘Para picar’ and starter selections. The website states there is a minimum order of three dishes (including one main course) per person, which seems slightly obstructive, especially if you want to focus on the smaller plates. This said, you can’t beat the quality and flair of the food. What we’d make a beeline for if we were there right now? Smoked eel and caviar crisps, and Gambas Rojas à la plancha.
Where: 6 Aungier Street, Dublin
One of the originals and one of the best? You said it. Forging an award-winning path for almost 15 years, Cava Bodega’s tapas menu shines a light (and sometimes an extremely hot torch, especially in the kitchen) on over 70 regional Spanish dishes. You haven’t visited yet? Make amends to that pronto. What we’d make a beeline for if we were there right now? Basque-style monkfish, with parsley mayonnaise, and Connemara mountain lamb, with escalivada and charred onions.
Where: 1 Middle Street, Galway
“Small bites, funky music, friendly service and a cosy setting…” Yes, folks, we’re not in Kansas anymore but rather Cork city and its appropriately named Moody venue. The vibe here is one of inventive and nonconformist food offerings in a space where the work of local artists is proudly displayed. What we’d make a beeline for if we were there right now? Tabla de Quesos (extensive cheese board served with olives, dips, seasonal fruit, bread) and Cangrejo y gambas Al Ajillo (baked crab toes and prawns, with spicy garlic butter and warm bread).
Where: Tower Building, 1-2 Lower Glanmire Road, Cork
Not so much ‘tapas’ as ‘japas’ (as the restaurant itself states), the range of small dishes and snacks here is beyond compare. What we’d make a beeline for if we were there right now? Niku Dango meatballs (Japanese-style meatballs of Irish Wagyu beef and pork mince, with sweet ginger sauce) and Seabass & Kuro Ninniku (grilled seabass fillet, with torched black garlic butter, sea salt and pink pepper.).
Where: 12/13 South Great George’s Street, Dublin