tapa (Spanish pronunciation: tapa) is an appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine. It may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or hot (such as chopitos, which are battered, fried baby squid) and other hot tapas. In select bars in Spain, tapas have evolved into an entire, sophisticated cuisine. In Spain, patrons of tapas can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal.  

Today you hear restaurants serving "small plates".  This would be like a tapas plate.

 I have chosen three popular areas to feature in this post:  

  • Basque (North central Spain & South central France)
  •  Madrid (central Spain)
  • Catalonia (Barcelonia) (North eastern Spain)

In some Central American countries, such snacks are known as bocas. In parts of Mexico, similar dishes are called botanas.

According to The Joy of Cooking , the original tapas were thin slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners created a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales. The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry.

They originated in Spain and are served in tapas' bars 

Tapas bar in Madrid

and restaurants.  
Northeastern Spain

The Basque area is in North central Spain and South central France

They are also served in:

In Portugal:  Petiscos are the Portuguese tapas. Iberian delicacies. Special little snacks that accompany drinks or make small tasty light meals or large meals made of small tasty snacks. This is another example of Borderless Cuisine due to the proximity of Portugal to Spain

In Mexico:  tapas bars are called "cantinas otaneras"  and the botanas (tapas) are similar

  • In ArgentinaPicada is a type of tapas eaten, usually involving only cold dishes, such as olives, ham, salami and different types of cheese. (Tapas are served warm and cold)

  • In Brazil:  Tira-gostos  or petiscos are served in the bars of Brazil and typical as tapas-like side dishes to accompany beer or alcoholic beverages

  • In Italy:  Cicchetti are small tapas-like dishes served in cicchetti bars in Venice, Italy. Venetians typically eat cicchetti for lunch or as late-afternoon snacks.


  • In Korea, drinking establishments often serve anju of various types, including meat, seafood, and vegetables. 

  • In Japan, izakaya are drinking establishments that serve accompaniments similar to tapas.


The Mercury News: 5 of the best Spanish restaurants and tapas bars in the SF Bay Area. 

5 of the best Spanish restaurants and tapas bars in the SF Bay Area
The Mercury NewsJackie Burrell · Mar 28, 2018
Ready to sate that tapas craving? Here are five fantastic restaurants where the sangria and small plates are as fabulous as the ambience, from San Francisco’s dazzling Bellota to Berkeley’s paella paradise, La Marcha.

1 Bellota, San Francisco

This sizzling spot in the city’s SoMa neighborhood presents classic Spanish cuisine as a feast for the senses. Grab a cozy booth, order sangria and a charcuterie platter that includes Spain’s famous acorn-fed jamon Iberico, and don’t miss the puffy Spanish omelet-like tortilla topped with chorizo aioli. Open Monday-Saturday at 888 Brannan St., San Francisco;

2 La Marcha, 


La Marcha, a Spanish tapas bar in Berkeley, is known for its sensational paellas. (La Marcha) La Marcha
Reservations are a must at this two-year-old, high-energy rustic Spanish restaurant, where cod croquetas, wild-boar albondigas and sherry-spiked sangria compete for attention with sensational paellas. Open daily at 2026 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley;

3 Shakewell, Oakland

Crunchy coquetas, impeccable flavors and stellar craft cocktails combine to make Shakewell — as in cocktail shaker, get it? — one of our favorite spots to dine. This is “Top Chef” alum Jen Biesty’s ode to the tapas and small plates of Spain and its Mediterranean neighbors, and it’s delish. Open Tuesday-Sunday at 3407 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland;

Executive chef Jen Biesty poses with bacalao croquetas and a bomba with Manila clams and chorizo. Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group file

4 Juerga Tapas and Wine, San Jose

No need to make tough decisions at this charming, year old tapas bar.  A beautiful and bountiful tapas sampler includes everything from olives, chorizo and manchego to olive oil-cured boquerones, rich pate, a tortilla Espanola and marinated carrots so delicious, you’ll want to get a full order. Open daily at 3250 Zanker Road, San Jose;
The Tapas Sampler at Juerga Tapas & Wine offers tastes of everything. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group) Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group file

5 Teleferic Barcelona, Walnut Creek

Owned by Barcelona’s Padrosa family, this colorful restaurant in downtown Walnut Creek fairly buzzes with energy. Don’t miss the Gambas al Ajillo — the piping hot, garlicky prawns are irresistible — Catalan-style gin and tonics and tasty sangrias. Plus, flamenco every Monday night. Open daily at 1500 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek;

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