With its laid-back feel and a casual seaside charm, it's not hard to see why Brighton ranks among Britain's top destinations to knock back a glass of wine while indulging in small plates over hearty conversations. Originating from Spain, tapas is recognised as a cuisine of its own around the globe today, including in Brighton, where tapas restaurants offer a sheer variety of dishes that entice everyone from finicky nibblers to fastidious gourmands. Typically consumed at the bar in a lively atmosphere, experience the pulse of the city when you tapear – the Spanish tradition of going from bar to bar for tapas and drinks – at Brighton's best tapas spots. Get started now by finding the one nearest to you and booking a table with Quandoo!
So how did this well-loved cuisine come about? The most popular of all theories has to be the one that goes back to the 1200s when King Alfonso X of Castile ruled. During his reign, the king fell ill and small servings of wine with snacks kept him going until his recovery, when he ordered that alcohol had to be served with snacks in taverns, which paved the way for the tapas culture of modern Spain to take root. More recently in the 1700s, innkeepers were believed to have displayed samples of their dishes in tiny portions on top of pot covers, or tapa, to their guests, who were mostly illiterate. Often comprising ham and olives, these small plates of samples would also keep dust and bugs away from drinks, which was how they became common across eating and drinking establishments. Satisfy both your appetite and your curiosity at one of Brighton's many tapas restaurants today!
New to the Brighton tapas scene? We'll give you a rundown on what to order. Start with three to four small plates to make up a meal, although you may also order more for variety if you're with a group. The ubiquitous tortilla española (Spanish omelette comprised of egg and potato) makes an excellent starter, as do the aceitunas, or olives, which rev up your appetite for what's to come. Following that, you'll want to order the chorizo al vino (wine-cooked chorizo sausages) or the gambas al ajillo (prawns sauteed in garlic). You shouldn't miss out on pairing these tasty treats with sangria – the common poison of choice at Brighton's tapas restaurants. ¡Buen provecho!
Although traditionally Spanish in nature, there has been a growing acceptance in small plates dining across other cuisines, and Brighton's tapas restaurants are proof of that. Taking the street food of Thailand to Brighton Square is Street Thai, where an assortment of basil- and lemongrass-laced grilled meats and spring roll starters rule the menu. Adding on to the Asian influence among tapas restaurants in Brighton are Senor Buddha and Terre à Terre – the latter of which has even scooped up a Michelin Bib Gourmand and consistently ranks among Britain's best vegetarian spots. Even in neighbouring Hove, the tapas trend does not recede, as places like Olé Olé serve up a delicious array of Spanish tapas to complete its classic paellas, with a regular roster of live guitar and flamenco to keep you entertained ‘till late. With a diverse range of tapas restaurants in Brighton to choose from, score a reservation at your favourite one with Quandoo for a cultural culinary experience you won't easily forget.