Santiago de Compostela, a historic municipality in Galicia, is better known as the terminus of the Catholic pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago. However, it is also home to many examples of yet another Spanish tradition – tapas. Set within the meandering streets of this medieval city are the tabernas and haunts that pride themselves on serving up these delicious and innovative cultural morsels. Here are 10 places that provide the best and most flavorful tapas in Santiago de Compostela.
Of all the restaurants here listed perhaps none is as innovative and creative as Casa Marcelo. Located adjacent to the cathedral square in an unassuming and intimate space, the creative team behind Casa Marcelo have sought to unite robust Galician produce with the clean precision of Japanese cuisine. This fusion presents one of the most enlightened dining experiences one is likely to find in Santiago, if not the entire country. The menu makes for a joyful read given the depth of surprising innovation, though a discerning eye could readily identify iconic Galician preparations in all their eastern finery. Casa Marcelo is undoubtedly essential eating for all who travel to Santiago and should not be missed.
Known locally as simply ’16,’ O Dezaseis has been experimenting with classic Galician dishes for over 20 years and has become the shining star of Santiago’s vibrant culinary cosmos. Set within a renovated stable, this rustic lunch house – or casa de xanthar – retains many of its original features, creating a space that exudes character and spirit. This charming establishment also boasts a signature dish of grilled octopus (polpo a grella) that has achieved an almost mythic status among santiagues and should be top priority for intrepid foodies visiting the municipality.
Having had a long history in Santiago’s restaurant scene, this family business eventually found a home on the Rúa do Franco in 1975 and quickly established itself as a local institution. With strong family values and a love for all things Galician, A Charca takes its food to heart and all who dine there can attest to the warmth of its inviting embrace. The homey stone-clad interior and exposed wooden beams recall the medieval architecture of the city and forms a fitting backdrop to A Charca’s culinary traditionalism. As one might expect, the tapas menu here reads like a textbook of Galician cuisine, offering a selection of ham and seafood racions that are a must for anybody wanting to experience authentic local food and hospitality.
Named after a region in the province of Leon, Bierzo Enxebre marries Galician culinary traditions with that of its namesake to craft a fulfilling dining experience. Despite such diverse influences, the menu remains deliberate and established, listing seasonal treats such as Caldo Gallego and Gazpacho, all accompanied by a selection of carefully curated wines from the Bierzo region. What stands out among the various inspired dishes, though, are the platters of cured meats and local cheeses that, in their honesty and simplicity, convey the quality and freshness of the regional produce. Enxebre really is the one of the best ways to sample all that Santiago, and indeed Bierzo, has to offer.
In 2003 Taberno do Bispo opened its doors on the Rúa do Franco with one goal in mind; to offer traditional tapas and the finest beer and wine to pilgrims and santiagues alike. Over ten years later, Bispo continues to honor its vision, providing a dining experience that champions all that is great about tapas. The ever-lively atmosphere, contained within a cozy yet modern space, is a testament to this little restaurant’s passion and popularity. Once inside, patrons can choose from an informed menu that incorporates Galician cuisine with the staples of traditional tapas and is sure to satisfy all tastes and preferences.
The taberna at Abastos 2.0 represents a more conceptual contingent in food culture and does so under a veil of unassuming modesty. The restaurant consists of a single under-lit table that traverses the entire space; reinforcing the community aspect of the dining experience and returning a sense of ceremony to the act of eating. Offering a menu that changes daily, based on the freshest produce sourced at local markets allows each visit to Abastos to be profoundly unique. The ephemeral nature of the dining experience coupled with the perfect simplicity of the food makes Abastos 2.0 unmissable for those who seek wonder, adventure, and, most importantly, delicious tapas.
The team behind Café Lacobus had their first success in 1995 with a quaint coffee shop on the Rúa da Azabachería. After nine years they expanded with a new premise on the Rúa Santiago de Estero, thus establishing their first foray into the world of food. This new focus on food in no way diminishes their zeal and ingenuity, serving traditional tapas racions and tortilla with a selection of Spanish craft beers and select wines while maintaining their pioneering attitude towards coffee.
Located in the historic center of Santiago, this charming bar grants all who visit an authentic and unapologetic slice of Spanish culture. The bustling Rúa Nova on which La Tita sits leads to the cathedral square and thus provides weary pilgrims a place to rest and share stories with the vivacious santiagues who flood the bar for lunch daily. Serving up generous pinchos of tortilla with every drink order and accommodating a colorful mix of clientele, La Tita presents the perfect opportunity to get in touch with the heart and soul of Santiago.
Antollos, located on the Rúa das Orfas, is one Santiago’s prime purveyors of pinchos – tapas served on a toothpick, with or without bread – and manages to maintain a casual, laid-back atmosphere. As a result, Antollos has become a refuge for those seeking rest and relaxation from the vibrant throngs of Santiago’s busy streets. One of the strengths of Antollos is certainly the sheer variety, not only offering a wide range of pinchos, but empanadas and traditional tortilla. This is not to mention the plethora of wines to choose from, made all the more pleasurable by the informed and approachable staff, ever-willing to assist even the most uninitiated diners.
Drawing from the concept of a gastropub, Artesana fuses quintessential passion with the affable informality of the gastropub. Despite the conceptual underpinnings, the food at Artesana is a cut above that of the average gastropub, offering a menu that maintains an international perspective, where conventional tapas are reinvented. Furthermore, diners can choose to enjoy their food in the Santiago sun by availing of Artesana’s delightful garden space.