In search of the authentic tapas bar experience: (1) North West London

Olives and Estrella Galicia in a shady bar in London
Olives and Estrel­la Gali­cia in a shady bar in Lon­don

En espanol

We tend to go to Spain around this time each year. How­ev­er, due to start­ing new jobs etc we haven’t been able to plan any­thing, and so we start­ed think­ing about how to repli­cate some of the best Span­ish expe­ri­ences in Lon­don. In par­tic­u­lar, we’re on a mis­sion to iden­ti­fy all of the authen­tic tapas bars in Lon­don, ide­al­ly gath­ered togeth­er in con­ve­nient tapeos (tapas bar crawls).

Let’s make it clear: we’re not talk­ing about restau­rants that serve tapas or Span­ish food. We’re talk­ing about places where you can have a nice chat over some drinks and a tapa or two. Ide­al­ly, we’re look­ing for places where you can sit up at the bar and lis­ten to old men bick­er­ing in impen­e­tra­ble dialects, to get the real feel of being in Spain.

So, after a bit of inter­net research, we put togeth­er the fol­low­ing tapeo in north west Lon­don, an area we bare­ly know. Con­tin­ue read­ing “In search of the authen­tic tapas bar expe­ri­ence: (1) North West Lon­don”

Buscando tapas auténticas en Londres (1): El Noroeste

Eng­lish ver­sion

Sole­mos ir a España en el otoño. Por des­gra­cia, debido a nuevos puestos de tra­ba­jo, no hemos arreglado nada este año. Como echamos de menos España tan­to, hemos empezan­do a pen­sar cómo podemos replicar algu­nas de las mejores expe­ri­en­cias españo­las en Lon­dres. En par­tic­u­lar, queríamos iden­ti­ficar todos los autén­ti­cos bares de tapas en Lon­dres, para plan­ear tapeos vari­a­dos.

No esta­mos hablan­do de restau­rantes que sir­ven tapas o comi­da españo­la. Esta­mos hablan­do de lugares infor­males donde se puede char­lar sobre algu­nas copas y una tapa o dos. Esta­mos bus­can­do espe­cial­mente los lugares donde se puede sen­tarse en el bar, hablar con el dueño y escuchar a los viejos dis­cutien­do en dialec­tos impen­e­tra­bles…

Así que, después de un poco de inves­ti­gación por Inter­net, planeamos el sigu­iente tapeo en el noroeste de Lon­dres, una zona que ape­nas cono­ce­mos.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Bus­can­do tapas autén­ti­cas en Lon­dres (1): El Noroeste”

Why the Galicians are the Irish of Spain

WARNING: Con­tains gen­er­al­i­sa­tions pre­sent­ed as facts with­out evi­dence to back them up.


Gali­cia is a fas­ci­nat­ing part of Spain, tucked away above Por­tu­gal. It has its own lan­guage (between Por­tugese and Span­ish) and some uncan­ny par­al­lels with Ire­land.

  1. It rains all the time and is con­se­quent­ly very green.
  2. It’s bat­tered by the Atlantic.
  3. Weird sim­i­lar­i­ties in tra­di­tion­al music.
  4. Accord­ing to some, there are more peo­ple of Gali­cian ori­gin in Amer­i­ca than Gali­cia, due to famine and pover­ty in the 19th cen­tu­ry.
  5. Get­ting onto the beer angle. Their major beer is seri­ous­ly over-rat­ed. Estrel­la de Gali­cia is prob­a­bly my least favourite beer in Spain. How can you man­age to have smooth flow lager? I also tried their 1906 “Reser­va” which was actu­al­ly worse than the nor­mal lager.
  6. The rep­u­ta­tion for being twinkly-eyed, salt of the earth types. Par­tic­u­lar­ly when it comes to bars. It’s a broad gen­er­al­i­sa­tion (I warned about those) but Gali­cian bars in cities like Madrid and Barcelona are often extreme­ly friend­ly places, with very good ser­vice and excel­lent atmos­phere. What’s inter­est­ing is that I think we’re see­ing the start of the “Gali­cian theme bar” (i.e. like O’Neil­l’s in the UK), cash­ing in on this rep­u­ta­tion. I cer­tain­ly vis­it­ed one in Bur­gos.

The food choice tends to be more excit­ing in Gali­cian bars than Irish bars though…