3 of the Best Tapas Bars in Manchester
‘Tapas’ truly is one of the better ways of bringing people together. Who doesn’t love to be presented with irresistible food that rather than absorbing all of your focus in a gluttonous ecstasy, is actually designed to foster conversation? Indeed, the eating of tapas is an event that dually serves delicious food for the lips and a jovial and friendly exchange for the tongue.
Tapas is designed to be interactive, and rather than overload one diner with large plates that are to be eaten in an encumbering sequence, tapas encourages sharing and exchanging dishes with your company, each small variety a talking point. As tapas exhibits such a variety of appetizer style dishes, its sociability is met with a versatility in making it one of the better avenues to pursue when it comes to gatherings of friends and love ones. I adore tapas for the fact it represents the informal bargain of the dining world – like dim sum, one is served an array of moreish and delectable treats at a respectively low prices and with a relaxed atmosphere. In this article, I am suggesting three of the best tapas restaurants to visit in Manchester, and whether you’re visiting with family, friends, colleagues or dates, I implore you that these entries will bring both variety and quality to your Mancunian dining experience.
Pinchjo’s is as Addictive as the Food it Serves
The first entry on my list is located in West Didsbury, a short drive or journey from Manchester City Centre. “Pinchjo’s” is a Mediterranean–style Tapas Bar that takes its name from the Spanish word ‘Pincho’ ‘meaning ‘spike’, which is a word that I’m sure any fan of Tapas is already acquainted with. A Pincho is the type of tapas snack that is served with a cocktail stick (hence the spike), maintaining the form of whatever it contains and most often involving small pieces of bread with an assortment of ingredients. Yet Pinchjo’s serves more than nibbles on the end of sticks, rather, Pinhjo’s is an excellent eatery that brings a continental charm alongside its relaxed atmosphere. Simply, Pinchjo’s just feels like a place to hang out, it is simple and effective and unpretentious in its provision of mouth-watering food.
The food is Spanish with a Basque edge, meaning that all the fresh vegetables, fish, and meat dishes of the Mediterranean are met with a zing and a spice. The tapas menu is far from extensive, but that works with the rustic intentions of Pinchjo’s, dining here offered is akin to eating to an authentic destination where the Spanish locals would eat. For instance, up for a mix and match are several dishes which are each priced from £4.95 to a little over £6, and are assorted to whether they’re vegetarian or contain meat or fish, so are easy in accordance to coordinate the dietary requirements of the diner. All the food however, is consistent in its taste, which is ubiquitously savoury and fresh, with a delicate layering of seasoning. A favourite from each of these menus include the vegetarian ‘Cauliflower and Leek Frites’, served with refreshing mint and crème fraiche, offsetting the salty indulgence. My favourite of the Meat dishes was the Spanish Classic of the Chorizo, but cooked in white wine with onion and tomato, a way of preparing Mediterranean food I have only used when cooking mussels but is something I shall gladly adopt when trying to recreate the delicious recipe! The best of the fish dishes was the Calamari, deep fried rings of squid that achieve both a crispy but buttery texture! Pinchjo’s also has an impressive beer, wine and cocktail menu to ensure any occasion is met with both great food and a limitless option of drinks.
Evuna matches Rustic Tapas with Fine Wines
The next Tapas restaurant on my list actually has two branches in Manchester City Centre, both of which are rightfully popular. Located in Manchester’s Deansgate and Northern Quarter respectively, Evuna is too a destination that brings the best of Spanish Cuisine to the streets of Manchester. Unlike much of its competition, Evuna is a restaurant that has stood the test of time, and a huge accomplishment given that many a restaurant don’t make it past one year, let alone more than a decade. Established in 2002, Evuna was originally a fine wine house, which focused more on importing the best of Spanish vintage rather than Spanish Tapas. Yet, Manchester clearly had an appetite for Spanish dining and in 2003, Evuna opened its Deansgate branch, complimenting fine wines with superb Spanish dishes made by top chefs from Madrid. The Tapas at the Deansgate and Northern Quarter branches follows the same menu and as they are presenting in equally inviting establishments, with a continental décor of exposed brick and hardwood furniture, the choice is really one of luxurious convenience.
The Tapas Menu separates is dishes not by food type, but by whether they’re ‘Frio’ or ‘Caliente’, cold or hot. The Frio tapas resembles a summer meze or antipasti, wherein the quality of the ingredients speak for themselves, and the comparative blandness of much of the produce in rival restaurants is only highlighted, The ‘Frio’ menu champions the quality produce used in Spanish cooking and definitely needs not to be played with. Particular highlights include ‘Jabugo Iberico Black Foot Pig’, which is a plate of succulent slices of cured ham, pungent in flavour but still able to melt in your mouth. The dish is £8.90 for a small plate or £15.30 for a large. A second treat from the ‘Frio’ menu is the ‘Mixed plate of Jamón, Queso, and Chorizo’, which offers the finest assortment of hams, cheeses and chorizo sausage, at £7.50, or £13.30 for their respective sizes. The ‘Caliente’ menu is heartier but still a wholesome example of premium Spanish produce, a particular treat if you’re looking for something sweet, savoury and spicy to hit the spot. I think the ‘Caliente’ menu is at its strongest when serving meat and fish, and the dishes that contain it are nothing less than irresistible. To stimulate the taste buds, choose the ‘Chicken in a Creamy Paprika Sauce’ tapas, or the ‘Half Sea Bass with Garlic and Chilli’ at £4.90 and £7.95 respectively.
You won’t need a boat get on to go to Bar San Juan
Bar San Juan, despite being named after the Puerto Rican capital is the third tapas bar to round of my triumvirate of paragons of Spanish dining in Manchester. Located in Chorlton, just outside of the City Centre, Bar San Juan offers authenticity; the food is rustic and tantalising and is served in a setting reminiscent of a quaint bistro in the continent, let’s hope Manchester provides suitably Spanish sunshine during your visit. Bar San Juan is the more modest in pricing when it comes to the other entries on this list and the atmosphere reflects that. I am not saying that Bar San Juan feels cheap, but the mood is certainly very laid back and with a focus on presenting unfussy dishes from the diverse Spanish repertoire. Expect tapas classics with a focus on taste rather than affectation. Bar San Juan serves the staples from meatballs, to paella plates, each ensuring simple potent flavours, prepared with care.
Tapas truly is a people-pleaser, and there is no surprise why that is so. The food is rich and diverse and caters across the palate. The dining is perfect for an informal soiree with fond company and memorable times. If you’re in Manchester, then I’m hard-pressed to suggest somewhere other than mentioned on this list for a relaxed yet rewarding place to dine and soak up the Spanish rays, even if it’s through sun-ripened food.