As the post-Covid proliferation of ‘small plates’ evolves into an interminable and maddeningly uncalled-for culinary fad, their Mediterranean forebears rise effortlessly above the noise, transcending trends and disposing of all pretense to bring the timeless, unifying magic of tapas to the city with joy, authenticity and unimaginable depth of flavour.

From seared cod cheeks in beloved neighbourhood haunts to Butifarra sausage in opulent urban eateries, here are the best tapas bars around Manchester.

Evuna | Deansgate

With city centre restaurants in the Northern Quarter and on Deansgate alongside an outpost in Knutsford, renowned tapas joint and award-winning wine importer Evuna reimagines tradition with an exquisitely selected array of small plates charting Spain’s diverse gastronomic topography, from Pan Catalan to Calamares a la Andaluza.

Book a table below to enjoy a uniquely authentic tapas experience in one of Evuna’s intimate mahogany sanctuaries, and keep an eye on their regular wine-tasting events schedule here.

277-279 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EW | 79 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1LQ | 46 King St, Knutsford WA16 6DT
El Gato | King Street

Serving seasonally influenced dishes until late, the Manchester branch of the multiple award-winning El Gato Negro adds a modern flourish to classic tapas delicacies with locally sourced ingredients in a refined yet urbane atmosphere.

Winners of countless accolades including City Life’s ‘Best Restaurant’ twice in three years, ‘Newcomer of the Year’ at the 2016 Manchester Food and Drink Festival Awards, ‘Premium & Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year’ 2017 and a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand for three years in a row, El Gato continues to delight tapas enthusiasts and first-time diners alike with dishes like harissa-spiced chicken thighs, chargrilled octopus and 36-month-aged Jamon Iberico Bellotta, as well as a selection of sprawling charcuterie boards and perfectly paired wine options.

52 King St, Manchester M2 4LY
El Rafa de Rincon | Longworth Street

One of the city centre’s true hidden gems, family-run El Rincon de Rafa – known simply as ‘Rafa’s’ to its countless die-hard patrons – has spent thirty years serving phenomenally affordable tapas in its achingly traditional hideout, where guests enjoy piles of langoustines, albondigas and croquetas amidst walls of framed football shirts and family portraits.

Nestled in the kink of a backstreet behind Deansgate’s Milton Hall, Rafa’s offers quintessential Spanish social dining at unbeatable prices, with a draught beer line-up to match.

Call below to book your table.

244 Longworth St, Manchester M3 4BQ, Tel: 0161 839 8819
Nueve | Didsbury Village

Hailed across South Manchester as the platonic Mediterranean blend of lively and languid, hole-in-the-wall eatery Nueve supplies Didsbury Village and its surrounding areas with mouth-watering produce from Barcelona, Madrid, Córdoba and Jaén, as well as fresh meat and veg from local suppliers.

Standouts include the seafood-stuffed Arroz del mar, the umami-laden Fabada Asturiana and the irrepressibly tangy Boquerones.

9 Barlow Moor Rd, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6TN
Abeja | Chorlton

Over in Chorlton, Abeja brings peerless knowledge and immaculate wine pairings to town with traditional Andalusian delicacies served daily in ‘the smallest tapas bar in Manchester’ – and you can order a selection of items from their sublime menu to enjoy at home thanks to their nationwide ‘Board in a Box’ delivery service.

2a Beech Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 8BQ, Tel: 07540 395894
La Bandera | Ridgefield (Off Deansgate)

Winner of several illustrious gongs including the 2017 Diner’s Choice Award and Top 3 Tapas Restaurants in The Sunday Times, La Bandera embodies a bold new era of Spanish culinary excellence with a raft of expertly curated dishes including Pisto con Huevo – a native twist on ratatouille – Canarian red pepper chicken, twice-cooked octopus, Rioja chorizo and more.

2 Ridgefield, Manchester M2 6EQ
Tast Catala | King Street

Part-owned by Pep Guardiola, elegant three-storey restaurant Tast transforms King Street into a thrumming Gràcia enclave with high-end interpretations of classic Barcelona tapas – ‘tastets’ – ranging from chargrilled octopus and duck egg to Butifarra sausage and traditional tortillas.

Reservations are required, so book your table below.

20-22 King St, Manchester M2 6AG, Tel: 0161 806 0547
Bar San Juan | Chorlton

Billed as a little corner of Spain in the heart of Chorlton, Beech Road’s deliriously popular Bar San Juan celebrates the lesser-known delights of authentic tapas with a divine array of dishes including fresh chorizo cooked in Galician cider, salt and pepper cod cheeks, roasted pulled lamb leg and wagyu black pudding. You can even grab a one-litre carafe of their homemade sangria to take home.

56 Beech Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9EG
Canto | Cutting Room Square

Situated on Ancoats’ coolest quadrangle, El Gato’s well-established younger sibling utilises the best in both local and continental produce to deliver a delectable Mediterranean-inspired medley featuring salt cod fritters, Gambas Pil Pil, braised ox cheek, mushroom croquetas and much, much more.

Running every day during set hours, you can grab a table in their fashionably industrial yet pleasantly sanguine restaurant and enjoy three highlighted dishes for just £20.

Cutting Room Square, Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 5DH
Campo Blanco | Whitefield

Serving North Manchester’s best tapas to fanfare audible from the city centre, revered Whitefield bistro Campo Blanco rivals all the stalwarts and heavy-hitters with a sumptuous small plates menu featuring salt-aged pork, sea bass asturiano, chilli chicken, goat’s cheese bon bons and three-bean quesadillas fritas, served alongside a meticulously chosen yet blissfully long wine list.

1 Moss Ln, Whitefield, Manchester M45 6QE
Porta | Salford

Born of passion, knowledge and a dedication to homely tradition, Salford favourite Porta captures the beauty in simplicity with a taut, proudly unpretentious menu featuring some of the best tapas dishes in the region.

Porta operates solely on a walk-in basis, so drop by to snag a table and enjoy flawlessly assembled dishes like Zamorano cheese with quince, air-dried beef Cecina with pickled chillies, Andalusian fried squid and confit rabbit.

216 Chapel St, Salford M3 6BY
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Thu 9 May 2024