Being a picky eater can be hard sometimes; like, when you go to a restaurant, what do you go for?
It’s a big commitment to pick just one thing, don’t you think?
If that’s a problem you find yourself in often, Tapas is for you. Birmingham’s selection of tapas ranges from independent to franchise; but where’s good?
If it’s your first time going to a tapas restaurant, maybe swing by Tapas Revolution. Their simple yet authentic-feeling style’s sure to make you feel comfortable whilst still suitably more exotic than chowing down on a Big Mac.
You’ll sit at the bar, in the light and airy restaurant while the staff regale you with stories of Spain and you sip on the delicious housemade lemonade. You’ll almost forget about the rain outside, as you’re transported to warm, sunny Spain.
Plus, the food’s outstanding – ham and béchamel cheese encased in a crispy breadcrumb, are you kidding me? Who doesn’t want that? It wouldn’t matter how stressful a day you’ve had, Tapas Revolution really soothes you into the relaxed, Spanish atmosphere with these “little balls of happiness” (yes, that is a genuine quote, they’re that good).
While the menu is in Spanish with English translation, you’ll have no problem finding food that sounds good – even the ‘ensalade’ sounds good, go ahead, say it; it rolls off of the tongue.
Then, even though it’s hard to narrow down what sounds the best, the staff are only more than willing to help; but the specials change by season, so definitely make your way through those. I noticed though, on my trip to Tapas Revolution, that béchamel cheese is common in Spanish food. So, on that note, I’m moving to Spain. It’s been an honour Birmingham.
Tapas Revolution, Ground, Grand Central, 68A East Mews, Birmingham B2 4XJ. 0121 643 6381 www.tapasrevolution.com/birmingham
El Borracho de Oro:
Maybe one for the more seasoned Tapas-eaters, this independent restaurant is subtle from outside but the inside greets you with the warm, Spanish atmosphere I’d grown to love on my tapas journey – with a slight Tardis feel; y’know, bigger on the inside. I was told the décor was entirely sourced from Spain, which really added to the authenticity, topped off by a metaphorical cherry; the Spanish chef, Nacho Castells.
While the room has more of a rustic feel to it than the industrial light of Tapas Revolution, you’re welcomed with open arms by the attentive staff asking if you’d like a drink.
The helpful staff were never too far away, and only willing to help (maybe it’s a Spanish thing). Now, as for the drinks – the sangria. Oh, the sangria. Did you know white sangria was a thing? It’s incredible. It’s fruity and sweet, and fuelling my alcoholism.
To soak up the glass of sangria (which, by the way, is the size of a baby’s head; order the bread to come with it), I can’t express how essential it is to try the churros; or the croquettes. They have béchamel cheese in them, so obviously I fell in love with them. But, the chocolate that comes with the churros is rich and deep in flavour, offsetting the crispy, sugary goodness. Spain just keeps on tempting me, I’ve packed my bags.
If you’re looking for somewhere to teach you the ways of relaxation; meander over to Rico Libre. You’ll experience a much more relaxed level of dinner, even for tapas – which is already pretty relaxed. Now, I don’t know about you but this was the first place I’d heard of that allows you to bring your own alcohol. It’s kind of like a party, but less of the dread of having to interact with people and more of the excitement because there’s food.
Speaking of the food, now that you’re nicely relaxed, it’s time to look at the menu. Rico Libre offers a friendly, comforting way of dining; encouraging you to steal the food from your friend’s plate. Of course, that isn’t retaliated. Especially if you check out the lemon chicken with quail’s egg. Yes, I did say quail’s egg, how fancy is that?! I don’t care how close we are, if you touch that, I’ll cry.
Again, they offer specials and while the menu tells you of four unique dishes, it also promises random specials that change when the chef feels like it. I mean, really, how much closer to relaxed, ‘family-style’ eating can you get?
Rico Libre, 1 Barn St, Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5QD. 0121 687 8730 www.rico-libre.co.uk
Now, I know this is a chain and I’m not telling you anything, you didn’t already know, when I say it’s amazing, but seriously; it’s amazing. Maybe it doesn’t have the charm of the independent places, but if you’re just looking for some good, no messing about food – here, go here.
Though they sell more than just tapas, why would you want more when they offer nachos on the tapas menu? In fact, just go and get four to six plates of the nachos to ‘share’ (cough, eat them yourself, cough) nobody’s going to judge you. I mean, it’s a hard title to win, but I’d maybe even go so far as to say they’re the best nachos I’ve ever had – and I’ve had my fair share.
Of course, the tapas menu is smaller than the others I’ve suggested so maybe better for a first time tapas experience, y’know, when you’re a bit scared. Plus, they offer things like smoked cheese as an actual dish. So, what I learnt is, all those times my mum told me a block of cheese isn’t a meal, she lied. Thus, I can conclude, tapas makes your dreams come true.
Las Iguanas, Arcadian Centre, 70 Hurst St, Birmingham B5 4TD. 0121 622 4466 www.iguanas.co.uk/locations/birmingham
Last but, by no means, least on what I think are some of the best tapas places in Birmingham, Comida doesn’t disappoint. Like Rico Libre, they keep that party going by letting you bring your own alcohol, providing you have ID of course. Though, slightly different as they have a ban on Sambuca, and the likes – very smart, if I may say so.
To make up for the lack of tequila, they offer a slightly different variation of my favourite tapas treat to soak up all the wine you bring along instead. Churros, which I know, already sound good – but, not with the usual chocolate, oh no. This time, they’re served with salted caramel.
Hold your applause though, it gets better. They serve their own version of the jamon croquettes (ham and cheese with breadcrumb) that I fell in love with at Tapas Revolution. It’s like the best of both worlds, all I need now is the sangria from El Barracho and I’d never leave. While it’s a little bit out of the city centre, with a harborne postcode, the food’s worth the walk – plus, that definitely means you can eat more, trust me on that.
Comida, 4 Gordon Rd, Birmingham B17 9HB. 0121 439 2800 www.comidatapaskitchen.com
Other places to check out:
All Bar One New Street Station:
Like Tapas Revolution, the central location really amps up the desire to go; plus you could hop on a train. I hear the crispy duck dumplings are to die for, and as you can get £5 off the bill right now if you join their newsletter, that’s basically a free dish.
The Cuban Embassy:
Seeing as it’s in Moseley, there’s, like, a million places you can get food from. But why bother looking around, when you can go straight to The Cuban Embassy? Go ahead and help yourself to something from a bespoke menu that changes daily. Plus, they sell cocktails – a banana daiquiri, you say?
If you’d like a more educational dinner time, run over to Amantia who’s offering a ‘Spanish Immersion Day’. Learn Spanish and get a good amount of tapas in your stomach, it even includes sangria and is open to all levels of Spanish speakers.
Article by Megan Matthews for Grapevine Birmingham