Share plates, small bites to eat, Spanish wine, and good company. Some of the many perks of a tapas restaurant. Tapas bars are also perfect for those of us who want to try as many different dishes as we can in the one seating. Who can blame us, right?
In Melbourne we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to pretty much any cuisine and tapas is no different. While we don’t have time to talk about every hole in the wall tapas bar we’ve been to, here are a few of our favourites you should put on your to-do-list.
Bomba is a perfect example of everything good about tapas restaurants. There are incredible wines at affordable prices, food packed with flavour and authenticity, staff who know more than they’ll ever need to, and an intimate rooftop bar to start or finish the night. Once you’ve chosen your wine ($40 or $60, they keep things simple) you’ll need to choose your food. Good luck. A few must orders include the Mojama (air dried tuna), quail with pistachio and buckwheat, charcoal grilled 6+ score wagyu rump cap with mojo verde and horseradish, and the freekah salad with cauliflower, almonds, sumac, barberries, and mint. Order it all. Seriously.
103 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9077 0451
In a laneway off Little Bourke, hidden behind a red door, next to a cute cocktail bar, this tapas hotspot has Melbourne written all over it. The intimate space has wine lining the walls and a big share table in the middle, meaning lingering is easy. When it comes to the food menu, paellas of bug tails, prawns, fish, and seasonal vegetables sit nicely next to charcuteria of imported Spanish chorizo cooked in a honey and sherry caramel glaze and 36 month Jamon Iberico de bellota.
15 Warburton Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9602 2273
Eating at Movida is a rite of passage for any food lover traveling through Melbourne. On Hosier Lane in Melbourne, this little tapas place set the scene for laneway eats. The first of the Movida group from Frank Camorra, the menu is classic, tapas, raciones, and desserts. Start with marinated sardine fillets with heirloom tomatoes on olive and brik pastry crisp. Move to slowly braised beef cheek in pedro ximenez served on cauliflower puree. Imported cheese or maybe hot drinking chocolate with Spanish doughnuts will compete for your dessert choice.
1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9663 3038
Naked for Satan
Opening back in 2010 on Brunswick Street, Naked for Satan soon became the home of flavoured vodka and pintxos (small things on pieces of bread for those playing at home). As you drink your vodka, munch on small slices of bread topped with roasted beetroot, walnut, and cream cheese, or maybe the wagyu bresaola. Now you can also head upstairs to Naked in the Sky where the menu gets a little more sophisticated serving crumbed eggplant with honey and blue cheese, or the organic spring bay mussels with leek and cider.
285 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Sometimes when you want tapas, you want something outside of Spain, which is where Izakaya Den comes in. Offering up something from Japan to break up the cured meats and deep red wines. When you head to Izakaya Den, you’ll get to sample Den favourites like the den chicken, the sweet corn kaki-age, tuna tataki, grilled pork belly, and of course more sake and beer than you’ll need to wash it down with.
Basement, 114 Russell Street, Melbourne
An intimate space, unique wall decorations, bar seating, and the ever-friendly people behind the bar. That’s before you’ve even made it to the menu. Speaking of the menu, the small menu delivers big flavour. Yellow tail kingfish pancetta with lemon oil, roasted free range chorizo with lentils and cabbage, or even spiced cauliflower croquetas all make a brilliant start while vanilla rice, chocolate, and salted hazelnut makes for a perfect finish.
37 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
(03) 9663 7890
Anada is like the big sister of Bomba Bar, so you can expect the same incredible cooking, fine wine, and killer service. The intimate space, tucked into Gertrude Street in Fitzroy is the perfect cosy nightspot. When it comes to the menu, choose from the likes of chargrilled mussels with Iberico jamon migas, Joselita Jamon iberico and mahon cheese croquetas, or confit pork belly with artichoke-chestnut puree and chicharrones. A serious Spanish cheese selection makes dessert a decedent one.
197 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy 3065
Movida Aqui is the younger, yet larger sibling of Movida and Movida Next Door. Found in the lawyer district of the city, Movida Aqui offers up more space for the team to make more of the good stuff. The bigger kitchen allowed for larger rice dishes including the Bomba rice cooked with cuttlefish and squid ink, served with aioli, and the spanner crab in a rich bisque sauce with bomba rice. Among a range of other dishes, the Bocadillo de Calamares is a must, a little roll filled with calamari, basque guindilla, and mayonnaise.
Level 1, 500 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Another departure from Spain, Gingerboy takes us to the streets of Asia with snacks and street food filled with flavour and spice. The son in law eggs served with chilli jam and Asian herbs have their own cult following, so start with those. You can then move to tempura chilli salt cuttlefish with lemon and roasted sesame, or the fried penang beef dumplings with cashew chilli soy. Larger dishes of red duck leg curry with Thai basil and coconut cream, and steamed silken tofu, tomato, coriander, and toasted sesame dressing make for a hearty evening. The cocktails draw a crowd too.
27-29 Crossley St, Melbourne
(03) 9662 4200
Bar Nacional is deep into the city, pretty much in the Docklands at the bottom end of Collins Street. While that area is up and coming, Bar Nacional was one of the first in terms of great eating and drinking. Bar Nacional draws most of its inspiration from San Sebastian. You can start with charcuteria of wagyu bresaola, or jamon serrano, move to tapas of braised beef shin empanada, or charred broccoli and goats cheese croquetas. Larger dishes see braised squid with peppers, paprika, and patatas, or sardines with tomatoes, lemon, and grilled bread.
727 Collins St, Docklands
(03) 9252 7999