This blog post was originally posted on October 31, 2016, and was updated on January 18, 2018.
In Seville, we don’t just eat tapas, we “do” tapas, and if you’re unsure how to order tapas in Seville, allow us to simplify it for you!
If you asked 10 Spanish people from different parts of the country how they do tapas, you’d most likely get 10 very different answers. A meal in Madrid often consists of bigger plates called raciones, while the north of Spain has its pintxos tradition and the southern region sticks to smaller, individual plates. While this all makes for a very fun debate, it doesn’t really make visitors’ lives much easier!
Call us biased, but we think the tapas tradition in Seville is the best in Spain. It’s a dynamic, sociable way to enjoy your meal and eating like a true local is an experience you can’t miss out on! Read on and make sure you’re ordering like a pro when you arrive in Seville!
Claim your space
When it comes to choosing a bar in Seville, the busy bars are the way to go! Generally speaking, Sevillanos do what’s called a tapeo, a sort of tapas bar crawl through the city where they’ll hop from one place to another, stand by the bar and devour that place’s specialty. Before you can even think of what to eat, squeeze your way to a nice corner or an open spot at the bar and get comfortable – the lively atmosphere of a busy bar is a big part of the tapas experience!
Get a round of drinks
Waiters are quick to attend to new customers, even in busy bars, but don’t rush into ordering food. To show off how well you know how to order tapas in Seville, get a drink first to give yourself time to have a good look at the menu. Beers tend to come in the form of cañas, small glasses of the local cerveza, while wine-lovers choose between vino tinto for the house red or vino blanco for the white. Go even more local by starting your tapas experience with the treasured Andalusian specialty – sherry!
Know your portion sizes
Menus often contain two, or even three, separate columns for each dish, tapa, media, and ración. If you’re having a sit-down meal in a restaurant in Seville, raciones can be a great way to share your food across the table and medias can serve the same purpose, but if you’re standing at a bar with just a small space to yourself, tapas are the way to go! But don’t worry, be it a sit-down meal or a standing one, as long you’re trying different things and sharing it with friends, you’re doing it right!
Do as the locals do
The most common question when people want to know how to order tapas in Seville is, ‘How can we possibly know a bar’s specialty if we don’t speak the language?’ And the answer is simple – copy the locals! A tapas bar may have a huge variety of dishes on their menu, but there’s almost always one or two tapas that stand out and become instantly associated with that bar. Locals will have their favorite place for ham, their perfect spot for fish and that ideal place to get a delicious pork sandwich. If you see 10 Sevillanos ordering the garlic mushrooms, for example, then you can bet they’re good and you should definitely follow suit!
It happens to all of us, you get your space in a bar, have a look at the menu filled with delicious sounding dishes and, inevitably, you want to try them all. But don’t be hasty, tapas vary in size from bar to bar and while 3 tapas may be just right in one spot, the same amount in another bar will leave you stuffed – or even leaving food behind! The best way to combat over-ordering is to start small. To begin with, get just one or two tapas for your group, then, once you’ve tasted some of the food, you can decide if you want to order another round or pay up and head to the next bar. Knowing this trick is a great way to show you’ve truly mastered how to order tapas in Seville.
Pay at the end
Even if you’ve ordered two or three separate round of tapas, bars will keep a running tab going and you pay at the end. It’s amazing how waiters can look at you and automatically remember each individual dish you ordered! Also, while tipping is definitely welcome, it’s not compulsory and locals tend to just round up their bill if they’ve enjoyed their meal.
Now you’ve learned the basics of how to order tapas in Seville, check out some unmissable tapas you should try in Seville. This video from local expert, Cyra gives you great insight into unmissable dishes in the city.
“Tapas” doesn’t just refer to food here in Seville—it’s a way of life. Come discover this integral (and delicious!) part of many sevillanos‘ evening routines when you join our Tapas Like a Local: Triana Neighborhood Tapas Tour. Eat your way through one of Seville’s most emblematic barrios and discover the secrets of a true local tapas crawl. By the end of the night, you’ll be armed with knowledge of how to tackle Seville’s tapas scene on your own throughout the rest of your stay—no need to fear those crowded bars after all.
After studying in Andalusia, Jaimie made sure he was on the first possible flight back to Seville—the day after graduation! Many years later, he is fully immersed in Spain’s culinary world and has shown thousands of guests the secrets of sherry and tapas.