beer and food london pubs Spain

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.

Deberes de español pubs y bares

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.

Generalisations about beer culture Spain

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…