Understanding Seville’s Tapas Scene: Traditional vs Modern

This blog post was originally posted on February 19, 2016, and was updated on February 8, 2018

Of course, you see everything from timeless traditions to modern ways of life in the culture and the architecture, but also in the tapas in Seville.

Seville is a city that has it all. From beautiful monuments, and smaller attractions, historic neighborhoods, and modern architectural wonders, there really is something for everyone. And that’s before we’ve even started talking about the food. This is a city where there are just as many upscale restaurants and modern tapas bars to be found, as there are cozy nooks with elderly Spanish men propped up on the bar and traditional Andalusian tapas dominating the chalk-etched menu.

But how do you know what place is right for you to eat in, and what kind of eating experience you would enjoy? Here is our guide to understanding tapas in Seville. With this, you’ll know exactly what you are getting into on a night out in the city, whichever kind of place you enter.

Seville is a city where there are just as many upscale restaurants and modern tapas bars to be found, as there are cozy nooks with elderly Spanish men propped up on the bar and traditional Andalusian tapas dominating the chalk-etched menu. But how do you know what place is right for you to eat in, and what kind of eating experience you would enjoy? Here is our guide to tapas in Seville & understanding Seville's tapas scene, so you know exactly what you are getting into on a night out in Seville, whichever kind of venue you choose!

Traditional bars

Seating: Many of these places will have no or limited seating. Expect to order your tapas and squeeze up at the bar with locals – remember, we aren’t big fans of personal space in Spain so just get in there and join the crowd. Don’t let the busy bars put you off. In fact, it should be the opposite! If the bars are busy with locals, that means they are good, so use that as a sign to find out what all the fuss is about!

Service: Service will often be what you may consider a little bit gruff, with pleasant niceties skipped over and plates being slammed down on your table. This isn’t rude, it’s just their way of getting the job done efficiently! You will probably have to flag the waiter down to order absolutely everything, including asking for the bill at the end.

If you are not standing at the bar the waiter will probably come to you. but if you see the sign autoservicio this means self-service – so go to the bar yourself.  English may not be spoken and there may not be a menu in English, so make sure you familiarise yourself with Seville’s traditional tapas before you go!

To understand tapas in Seville, you must not miss a visit to a historic bar like this one!
Locals enjoying an afternoon tipple at El Rinconcillo, the oldest bar in Seville

Ambience: Expect a lively atmosphere with people talking loud, sometimes even yelling. Also, you can even find a TV on in the background. The clientele will probably be mainly locals, many of them perched at the bar speaking with the waiters. The atmosphere is warm but sometimes can borderline chaotic depending on the bar and the time of day! It’s all part of the fun os tapas in Seville.

Food: Firstly you will find a lot of simple tapas such as fabulous local cheeses and mouth-watering Iberian ham. Also, expect to find traditional favorites. When it comes to tapas in Seville, this means stews, like local favorite espinacas con garbanzos or simple (usually cold) things on top of bread. You can also find little sandwiches, and fried foods, especially fried fish.

Price: Traditional tapas in Seville are super cheap! Expect to pay between 2 and 4 euros for a tapa, 1.50 – 2 euros for a small beer, and 2-3 euros for a glass of wine. A satisfying amount of food for 2 people with a glass of wine each, can end up costing between 15-20 euros.

Read More:

Perhaps you want to discover Seville’s traditional tapas scenes with the locals? Join us on our evening Tapas, Taverns & History tour, and we will not only share with you some of our favorite traditional bars and tapas but tell the fascinating story of Seville’s history as we move around the city.

These are some delicious traditional tapas in Seville
Enjoying some traditional tapas in Seville

Modern Bars

Seating: While places may still have a bar or bar tables, there will often be seating too (with some places only offering seating). Depending on the place, it may be possible to book in advance. Also, to be honest, we would recommend it as some of these places are very popular!

Service: Even in the “nicer” places, the service is slow or not up to scratch by US standards. Waiters often take more care in explaining dishes and making recommendations, as well as taking the initial order. However, to order subsequent tapas (because let’s face it, you’re going to want more!) or getting a drink refill, and yes, even getting the bill at the end, you will probably still have to flag your waiter down…multiple times.

This is the way we do things here! You have to make yourself known if you need anything so don’t be afraid to do so! Generally, you will always be served at the table. Also, the wait staff and more likely to have a basic handle on English with menus normally available in English too.

This is an example of modern tapas in Seville, a traditional dish done and presented in a beautiful way!
One of our favorites, carrillada, but done in a modern way and beautifully presented too!

Ambience: Depending on the place there are still likely to be locals, especially on weekends. However, you will often see a lot more tourists dining. This doesn’t (always) mean that the place is bad or a tourist trap. It’s just that many locals love to dine in their old favorites unless it is a special occasion. In many places, the atmosphere can often be lively, similar to the traditional bars. Although, in some places, the atmosphere will be more relaxed and conducive to a relaxed meal or special occasion.

Food: You will still find things such as plates of delicious Iberian Ham and often plates of cheese. And, trust us, these products will be of quality! When it comes to the main affair, typical stews or plates are on many menus. However, the preparation and presentation are often more modern and creative. A good example of this is instead of a typical pork cheek stew which would be served with boiled potatoes, you get a puree of potato with truffle. But you may also find ingredients and plates with influences from Asia, Latin America, and other European countries. Really, anything is possible!

Price: While there are some more expensive restaurants, generally speaking, expect to pay between 3.50 – 6 euros for a tapa. In many of these places, some dishes are only available as a half or full plate. So, you will see some dishes priced between 7 – 15 euros. Otherwise, a small local beer will cost between 1.50 – 2.50 euros. International and craft beers will be available for a higher price, and a glass of wine between 2.50 – 4.50 euros. A satisfying amount of food for 2 people with a glass of wine each, can end up costing between 25-30 euros.

Read More:

Want to take a virtual tour through some of our favorite tapas bars in Seville? Our local expert, Jaimie, shows you three of his top spots, covering modern and traditional, in this great video!

Seville’s tapas scene is one of the best in Spain for good reason. Come explore it like a born-and-bred sevillano when you join our Evening Tapas & Wine Tasting Tour. You’ll discover the secrets of an authentic tapeo as you eat your way around one of Seville’s most emblematic areas, all with the help of a local foodie guide who’s as passionate about Seville and its cuisine as they come. We hope you’re hungry!

2 Comment

  1. May 20, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    I spent 10 days or so in Seville almost 20 years ago to visit my married daughter. That at Easter time in 2000. The festival was spectaculor with the last day carrying the images if Saints, Christ, Mary, etc. I like the food espacially.

    Reply
    1. Devour Tours says
      May 21, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      Sounds like an amazing experience, Justine! And sounds like it’s time for you to come back!
      Loving the food here is something we have in common 🙂

      Reply

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