This cute tapas joint is always packed with locals – no mean feat when you consider how much competition there is in Tarifa. Tapas and drinks can be enjoyed in a cosy interior or out on the terrace, both of which are serviced by staff repeatedly praised for their friendliness. El Lola’s must-tries are the tuna dishes and the langoustine salad – all made with freshly caught fish from the Cádiz coast.
Enjoy classic Spanish tapas such as albondigas (meatballs) at El Francés
Just over the road from El Lola is Bar El Francés, a Tarifa institution that serves up beautifully presented Andalusian classics with a modern touch. The inside bar is standing-room only, but there are tables outside (arrive early to get one because the bar doesn’t take telephone bookings). Francés’s standouts are the tuna meatballs and rice with baby squid, prawns and vegetables.
Don’t be fooled by the name of this trendy spot (cocina sencilla means simple cooking) because No.6 serves some of the most inventive and tastiest tapas in Tarifa. In its stylish interior, Spanish classics such as patatas bravas are served up alongside tuna bruschetta and a broccoli tart (there are plenty of veggie options). The most sought-after spot is a romantic table for two overlooking the food market.
Situated on one of the old town’s liveliest streets, Misiana serves a varied menu of traditional and modern tapas, from gazpacho to mini hamburgers. These can be savoured in a contemporary interior characterised by exposed-brick walls, high tables and deliberately mismatched chairs. Misiana is also sought out for its cocktails and copas, making it a great post-tapas joint, too.
This cosy joint has established itself as a locals’ favourite over recent years and is known for the quality of its fish tapas, all of which are prepared using the freshest catch. The boquerones (anchovies), the tuna dishes and the pescaito frito – a mixed platter of deep-fried fish and seafood – are all standouts. Make sure you’ve cash on you, as cards aren’t accepted.
Modern tapas joint La Caracola is often described as offering one of the best gastronomic experiences in Tarifa. Located in the heart of the old town, it serves up traditional Spanish dishes with creative tweaks, such as the delicious truffle tortilla. Amongst other must-tries are the mini tuna burger with wasabi mayonnaise and the homemade desserts (yes, all of them).
Located just next to La Caracola on the insanely narrow Calle San Francisco is Bar Ola Ola, a tapas joint famed for its atún crujiente (crunchy tuna). It’s a tiny place and popular with the locals, so if you want to secure a patch of the bar to prop up, arrive early (i.e., before the Spaniards flock in at about 9pm). Other idiosyncratically tasty dishes to order include pumpkin croquetas and aubergine with mango and honey.