How to “fit in” on the tapas scene

Here is your “How To” guide for doing a tapas hop in the bars in Spain! A tapear!

1. The popular times for having tapas are between 1 and 2.30pm and before the evening meal, after 7.30 in the evening. But some wine bars in Madrid don´t even open till 8pm!

2. How to choose a bar? If you don’t have your route planned, no problem, just look for bars with lots of people, tapas on the counters and even napkins scattered about on the floor. They may know something you don’t.

3. The traditional way to have tapas is standing at the bar. But if there are tables, grab one, they go fast. (the price however may be 10% more)

4. It’s best to have a small group, about 2 to 6 people. More and you will never find a table and you may not fit comfortably in some bars.

5. How many tapas to order? You may be given a small free tapa with your drink. Other tapas are avaliable for purchase, if you have a larger group you could order a”ración” which is a larger portion of tapas meant to share.

6. One or two drinks and two tapas per person are standard for each establishment. The “tapeo” or “tapas hop” should include a stroll and a visit to a few different places.

7. Do not confound the waiters in Spain by asking them to split the bill, they don’t respect the concept because it’s just not the way things are done. This is a social culture! Do as the Spanish do and take turns “inviting” or paying a round of drinks and tapas in different bars.

8. Pay at the end unless asked to do so otherwise. Sometimes you have to remind the bartender what you had, but its usually written down, sometimes in chalk on the bar! In the basque country many bars run on the honor system, you tell them at the end how many drinks and tapas you had.

9. And most importantly, talk, laugh and enjoy the time with friends!









Filed under Tapas, Thoughts

3 responses to “How to “fit in” on the tapas scene

  1. Wonderful list Janelle, and I would add also that being assertive when you ask for your tapas is not considered rude, but rather expected. When you have so many people piled into a bar sardine like, there is no offense taken if you squeeze in and make yourself known.

  2. Good one Gabriella! Thanks! Along those same lines I would also say feel free to just interrupt and ask a question if you have one.

  3. I am doing a report on “las tapas” in my Spanish class. This site has supplied me with lots of info.
    Thank you. 🙂

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