¡Hola! Those of you who have traveled to Spain will know it is truly is one of the greatest gastronomic cultures in the world. And perhaps the best part is the humble tapa—a small bite traditionally served with your drink, usually in the early evening before you have your dinner at true Spain time (certainly not before 8pm). For us, tapas are a perfect after work dinner accompaniment, pre-dinner nibble, or can come together to create the original sharing plate dinner. In comparison to other cuisines, Spanish food isn't all that common in Auckland, but we've come up with a list of the best place to get your tapa on across the city.
Bellota sits across from legendary Depot and The Fed, but is headed up by an equally famous and acclaimed New Zealand chef—Peter Gordon. The tapas dishes are small in quantity, leaving you with plenty of room to try a vast array from the extensive menu. You’ll find quantities of quality and authentic Spanish ingredients—they serve up some of the best manchego and jamón we've seen in the city. The star is the crumbed balls of goat's cheese that do a stellar job of soaking up those drinks.
Must-try dish: Crumbed deep-fried goats cheese with runny honey and almonds
Mt Eden and Newmarket
Tasca has two locations, our pick of which is the Dominion Road spot with its sun-soaked courtyard out the back and tables that cater for groups of almost any size. Take a seat outside under the stars (or sunshine for the next month or so) and order a selection from the authentic menu. These little dishes come in the small terracotta plates synonymous with tapas in their native Spain. Anything with their amazing Turkish bread is incredible—try the pan con tomate—a very traditional tapas dish of bread rubbed with tomato, garlic, salt and olive oil and then grilled. This is the Catalonian version of the Italian bruschetta we all know and love.
Must-try dish: Pan con tomate
Apero is just one of the many quality spots on K Road that up the gastronomic stakes, while maintaining that local, casual atmos so as not to make the whole area feel too gentrified. We just love Apéro, where hosts Mo and Leslie will make you feel at home. They take good food seriously here and it shows in every single beautifully presented dish. The homemade sausage and terrine are divine, as are the simply yet interesting goats cheese croquettes. Get a bit’a errything by ordering their charcuterie platter. Note this down as a first date destination, people.
Must-try dish: Charcuterie platter
Stafford Road Wine Bar
Stafford Road Wine Bar is a sophisticated neighborhood wine bar that makes us all awfully jealous of the Northcotians who get to call this their local. It has a carefully curated menu designed for sharing over several glasses from their short, yet amazing wine list. You'll have a tough time choosing share plates from this list but trust us with the silky and luxurious duck liver parfait. Perfect dining pre or post movie at boutique cinema just down the road, The Bridgeway.
Must-try dish: Duck liver and foie gras parfait with redcurrant gel, truffle oil and hazelnuts
You haven't lived until you've dined at Casita Miro. Okay, perhaps a slight exaggeration but once you do make the trip out there, you'll be kicking yourself if you left it too long. Casita Miro's charm is in its sweeping location, evoking scenes of the Mediterranean, while you sip on spectacular wines and feast on, you guessed it, Mediterranean food. The menu is extensive, and begins with a short tapas selection that showcases local produce in a truly Spanish style.
Must-try dish: Hauraki Gulf snapper croquettas
Dida's Wine Lounge and Tapas
With Auckland's longest wine list, Dida’s Wine Bar in the country’s most expensive 'burb also cater to the most discerning of food palates. The short but sweet menu is divided into ocean, pasture, garden, cheese and dessert. There's nothing you'll be disappointed by, but we find it hard to get to far past a few from the ocean accompanied by a crisp white wine. Or glass of champagne—this is Herne Bay after all.
Must-try dish: Prawns wrapped in Spanish ham with smoked paprika salt and lemon
Mezze Bar is an inner city haven for good wine and even better food, offering a tapas and mezze menu that extends beyond Spain and spans the whole Mediterranean. They do larger lunch and dinner meals but we think the tapas are the real gems—plus it means you can order a whole load and try all the deliciousness! There’s all the classics here, patatas bravas, tortilla Espanola, meatballs and chorizo—order them all and add the suprising star—the sweet and slightly piquant carrot mezze.
Must-try dish: Roast carrot mezze with garlic yoghurt, fennel dukkah and chili oil
Elliot Street Stables’ resident Spaniard is suitably adept at pumping out seriously great tapas. In this bustling atmosphere, the tapas need to be loud to be heard, and that’s what you’ll get—bold yet simple flavours. El Faro have a short list of pintxos that are pieces of crusty bread with different toppings. It’s these bites which gave tapas their name—a ‘tapa’ or a cover for your drink that must be eaten before you can drink the vessel. The idea was to keep the flies away and reduce alcohol-fuelled shenanigans. We can’t help but think Police Ten 7 could become a great deal more boring if New Zealand culture included such a tradition.
Must-try dish: Braised lamb croquette, minted pea puree and red wine jus
There's always room for dessert. Check out 30 Desserts You Must Try This Year.
Image credit: H&N Magazine