To “tapar” in Spanish means to cover, and the small plates, or snacks, known as tapas originated in Spain when sherry drinkers used slices of meat or bread to cover their glasses between sips to prevent flies from entering their drinks. Now considered to be “snacks,” or small plates in most cases, in southern Spain to “tapear” means to go from bar to bar having a drink and something to eat that does not constitute an entire meal.
Although tapas have crossed the Atlantic, this manner of eating and drinking has not. When New Yorkers or Americans now think of tapas, they equate the word with a meal that might include several smaller dishes rather than one or two larger ones. The possibility of sharing with friends is also part of the modern concept of going for tapas in most major cities in the United States while going from bar to bar is not. In Manhattan, several Spanish restaurants have opened in the past few years that specialize in tapas.
Boqueria is named after the iconic Barcelona market. Seasonal favorites at Boqueria include Calabazas Asadas, or acorn and butternut squash seasoned with hazelnuts, sage, cheese, and a sherry reduction.
Tertulia is located in the West Village. At Tertulia, a favorite is the Tosta Huevo Roto con Jamon Iberico or the crushed egg, potato, Iberico ham on toast.
3. La Fonda del Sol
La Fonda del Sol is in Grand Central. La Fonda del Sol has a tapas tasting menu that includes croquettes and traditional Catalan tomato bread.
4. Bar Jamón
Mario Batali’s Bar Jamón. At Bar Jamón, a popular favorite is chorizo, or sausage, with pickled peppers.
Dani Garcia’s seven-month-old Manzanilla is in the Flatiron district. Finally, the chef’s favorite dishes at Manzanilla are the oxtail montadito, the cuttlefish croquettes, and the fried Branzino.
These five restaurants might be surprising to visitors from Andalusia, for instance, who are used to the traditional way of going from bar to bar. However, all restaurants are great options for diners who are looking for creative and traditional Spanish cuisine and the option to eat small plates, and often converse at the bar. So, if you would like to experience the way in which tapas became modernized for how residents of Spain outside Andalusia — and Americans — eat and drink, plan a visit to one of them and let yourself be impressed. Just don’t try to “tapear” like they do in Andalusia and hit all five restaurants in one night!