Hit up these restaurants when the craving sets in!
Fans of Spanish cuisine are spoilt for choice in Singapore. Thanks to a steady increase in Spanish eateries and bars, you can now sample from tapas and pintxos, and most people know that soccarat (the crunchy rice at the bottom of a paella pan) is the hallmark of paella done well. Here’s our round-up of the best spots in town for a food fiesta like none other. ¡Delicioso!
Part-tapas bar, and part fine-dining Catalan restaurant, Binomio has been serving stellar Sangria and delicious tapas before most of the trendier spots on this list. They have since gathered a loyal following of regulars, most of whom cannot get enough of the Gambas al Ajillo ($16) of sizzling fresh prawns in olive oil, garlic and parsley; or the delicately charred Cordero ($22) or lamb chops, served with a crust of herbs and nuts. Begin the meal with drinks and nibbles at their tapas counter (which is street-side on Craig Road, and great for people-watching) and finish at their elegant indoor dining room.
20 Craig Road, #01-02, 089692
Tel: 6557 0547
This intimate dining space in Tanjong Pagar is the Singapore outpost of its one Michelin-starred sister restaurant from Barcelona by Carles Gaig. Far from stuffy and pretentious, the restaurant is warm and inviting. Expect exquisite renditions of classic Catalan fare; Gaig’s traditional cannelloni is a family recipe that remains unchanged since 1869 ($16.50) where pork and foie gras filled cylinders are drenched in the richest truffle cream sauce. Mains include a black-hued squid ink and seafood Fideuà ($32.50) rich in umami ocean flavours. The award-winning chef visits his Singapore restaurant a few times a year, so if your visit coincides with those times, expect even more delicious seasonal specials on the menu.
16 Stanley Street, 068735
Tel: 6221 2134
Unlike Binomio, it’s more upscale sister-restaurant next-door, El Tardeo is a fun and casual tapas bar which is always buzzing with post-work revellers. Their Gin & Tonics are legendary — generous pours flavoured with citrus and served in large goblets, and they have over 40 varieties to choose from, including two Spanish Gins. Food-wise, all the usual suspects on a Spanish tapas bar menu are there. Top choices are the Jamon Croquettas ($9) and the Coca bread topped with wild mushrooms and Manchego cheese ($16). Prices are affordable, which is always a plus!
20 Craig Road, #01-01, 089692
Tel: 6221 6288
In a neighbourhood that sees trendy spots come and go, Esquina has firmly held its ground on the corner of Jiak Chuan Road. Small and large plates of Spanish and Catalan flavours, in the form of elegant tapas and upscale mains, are all churned out with panache by the team led by Head Chef Carlos Montobbio. Spanish staples have been reinvented here, like the Paella of Bomba rice cooked in lobster stock and topped off with sea urchin, saffron aioli, sugar snap peas and avocado mayonnaise ($32), or their version of the Spanish Omelette, which is served in pancake-like discs topped over slivers of sourdough, olive oil caviar and aioli. Counter seats are a great choice to watch the buzzy, open kitchen as you devour your meal.
16 Jiak Chuan Road, 089267
Tel: 6222 1616
While delicious, a lot of the small plates served at fine Spanish restaurants come with eye-watering prices. Not at Tapas Club. Here, you get quality nosh at excellent value. Their most raved about dishes include the Calamares Fritos ($12.90) where deep-fried baby squid is served with butifarra sausages and fava beans, and the lush Spanish Omelette topped with thinly sliced jamon and sour cream ($12.90). Their good-value deals on Spanish beer ($5 onwards) and Sangria (available in red wine and Cava versions, $12 for a glass) make both the Orchard and Vivocity outlet an excellent happy hour spot.
Their Boat Quay location may be more central and accessible, but we are partial to the original Bukit Timah outpost for its charmingly cosy vibe. They’ve been feeding people since 2010, and the warm service, top quality food and family-restaurant ambience remains unchanged since. Regularly imported servings of Spanish ham (hand-carved to order), cheeses ranging from the typical Manchego to rarer Catalonia Romero, and indulgent signatures like the Grilled Octopus Leg with Red Pepper & Saffron Potato Purées ($38) are all reasons to visit. A solid list of Spanish wines, Cava and good ol’ Sangria all guarantee a delicious night out.
They might’ve ceased operations at Sabio Tapas Bar (Duxton Hill) and the Glasshouse by DHM at The Heeren, but thankfully, you can still get your fix of authentic tapas and paella at Sabio By The Sea! This bar and grill serves up exceptional Spanish food with a dedicated weekend tapas menu that is great for sharing among friends and family. With an authentic Spanish charcoal oven, you bet your bottom dollar that you’ll be getting an authentic experience!
Be sure to try its El Cerdo ($23), herb-marinated pork belly with sauteed potatoes and Pan Con Tomate ($8), a traditional tomato bread from Catalonia with fresh diced tomatoes with garlic, salt, and Spanish olive oil over toast, and so much more.
Sabio By The Sea
31 Ocean Way, Quayside Isle, #01-02, 098375
Tel: 6690 7568
Ola’s chef-owner Daniel Chavez is no stranger to fine Spanish cuisine, having worked in the kitchens of award-winning restaurants in both Spain and Singapore (he worked under Santi Santamaria at the now-defunct Santi at Marina Bay Sands), and the food at Ola also bears touches from his Peruvian heritage. Seafood dishes are their specialty, be it the Piquillos ($22) where cod fish brandade stuffed peppers are served with Vizcaina sauce and crispy wild rice, or the Fideua Negra ($38) a noodle-paella flavoured with squid ink and topped with fried calamari, paprika and aioli. Prices are steep and portions are modest, but the food is excellent so do reserve this for special occasions.
Ola Cocina Del Mar
12 Marina Blvd, Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3, #01-06, 018982
Tel: 6604 7050
Expectations are understandably high when you sit down for a meal at La Taperia, as you would have of any restaurant by the acclaimed Les Amis group. Since their opening in 2014, La Taperia have established themselves as an intimate tapas and Spanish wine bar, boasting the city’s largest selection of wines from the region, paired with incredibly authentic Spanish cuisine. Whisky aficionados, there is even a selection of Glendronach single cask whiskies aged in the best Spanish Oloroso casks. The food does not take a backseat at all; their Crispy Baby Squid ($26) cooked in ink and served with aioli, is insanely addictive, and for dessert their Churros ($3.50 a piece) served with chocolate sauce are often lauded as the city’s best.
La Taperia by Les Amis
Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Rd, #02-10/11, 228208
Tel: 6737 8336
While most of the other choices on this list can be classified under tapas bar, or casual-fine dining, this Dempsey stalwart boasts a family-restaurant vibe — complete with kids menu and dining options to suit a variety of palates. From tapas staples like Patatas Bravas ($8) to heartier mains like Paellas in all sizes, and in vegetarian, chicken and seafood versions, or one with the works (the Don Quijote ‘Especial’, $53 onwards). Tip: Don Quijote does an excellent weekend brunch. It’s great value at $38++ onwards ($19++ for kids) and you will not go hungry with their array of tapas, salads, Catalan-style pasta and exotic mains like the Stewed Pigs Feet with White Beans.
Block 7 Dempsey Road, #01-02, 249671
Tel: 6476 2811
‘FOC’ means fire in Catalan, and it is a fairly apt description as a meal here is vibrant and the mood always lit and buzzy. Trendy, but incredibly fine is how we would describe the elegant plates that come out of Nandu Jubany’s and Jordi Noguera’s busy kitchens. Inspired dishes on the menu are the Watermelon “Gazpacho” & Smoked Olive Oil Ice Cream ($12) and the FOC-style Prawn Ravioli ($14). Drinks-wise, their cocktail list holds many winners. The FOC Sangria is arguably one of the best (read: potent) classic versions in town — it’s a highball glass of Rum, Sweet Vermouth, wine and orange juice ($17). The choice of tipples also include a variety of Spanish wines and sherry and rare liquors that the bartenders are happy to put into a libation, on request.
40 Hongkong Street, 059679
Tel: 6100 4040
Unlike its more refined sister restaurant on Hong Kong Street, Pim Pam is a trendy and casual Orchard Road spot that is a welcome change from the cookie cutter mall restaurants on the shopping belt. The food are delicious nibbles, and the street-facing terrace is where we prefer to sit while chowing down on the Croquetas (in ham, mushroom, crab and spinach and pine nut versions, $5-$6) or their selection of flown-in Iberico Ham. Their version of Patatas Bravas ($6) are among our favourite potato dishes in town. Here, a deep-fried potato mille feuille is topped with dainty dollops of aioli and salsa. Tip: Look out for their Boqueria-style Sunday brunches (on ‘select’ Sundays only) where the restaurant is transformed into a buzzy food market complete with live stations, a food parade of their classics and free-flow of Cava, Sangria and more. ($68++ per person onwards).
FOC Pim Pam
442 Orchard Road, #01-29, 238879
Tel: 6100 4242
By Priyanka C Agarwal / Updated October 2019
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