Tapas restaurants are more popular than ever and Leeds has no shortage of them, so if you fancy nipping out to indulge in the Spanish cuisine, here are half a dozen places to try
LA CASITA - HORSFORTH
Open since April, this is possible one of the most exciting tapas places in Leeds at the moment, not least because it is run by the award-winning team behind its namesake in Ilkley - there, head chef Simon Miller trained with Marco Pierre White, amongst others. This venture into Leeds represents a bold step for the team and they’ve done a great job in converting a unit at the bottom of Town Street. The interior is deceptively spacious, light and airy, with a nice little outdoor seating area hidden down the side. Food is exceptional. Try slow cooked Daube of beef, mustard truffle and wild mushrooms.
VIVA CUBA - KIRKSTALL
The style is casual and laid back with flickering candles setting the mood and dark wooden tables to fill with tapas and rum cocktails, beer and wine, all of which eases you effortlessly into the very South American vibe. It’s also very romantic without being overblown and expensive, so, no need to break the suit out (unless you really want to, of course).
There are at least 40 different tapas dishes to choose from the classic patatas bravas to sweet and spicy Caribbean lamb stew. It’s a place you will want to come back to again and again.
RICCI’S - INFIRMARY STREET
Michael Ricci has had a presence in Halifax for a number of years but recently he decided to bring his not inconsiderable talent to Leeds. This is sophisticated dining, with handsome plates of food and handsome diners to boot.
Exposed brick walls and weathered wood is an echo of his Halifax heritage, the food is to die for: Padron peppers, roasted and sprinkled with Ibizan salt, salmon tartare with grilled asparagus, miso crème fraiche and beetroot mooli or braised octopus with roast chorizo piperade. Verdict: hedonism but with style.
PINTURA - TRINITY
Open since April 2015, there is raw passion on display at this innovative and ambitious restaurant. The decor is bold and arresting and it embraces you like a long lost friend the moment you walk in. Prepare for a gastronomic adventure into the heritage of Basque Country with mostly tapas-style small plates but also a smattering of picotear (to peck at) dishes, with specials on a blackboard.
Try the carrillada de cerdo (£6.95), a serving of logic-defyingly tender Iberico pig cheek served with a slightly bitter cauliflower puree and crispy ears.
SANDINISTA - CROSS BELGRAVE STREET
Sandinista has an earthy, relaxed atmosphere with young, friendly staff, it’s lively and wants you to stay all night, sipping cocktails and trying some of the great tapas, such as rump steak, smoked sausage and prawn jambalaya and chorizo hash pan.
It’s also in a great location, being near to The Grand theatre and The Belgrave Music Hall, so perfect for a quick pre or post-performance meal. If you manage to bag a window seat, it’s also a great place to people watch. Good food, friendly service and a great atmosphere.
IBERICA - EAST PARADE
Iberica is sublime. If you want to impress friends from out of town (even from London) this will do the job, hands down.
Situated in a former auction house, it is a light and airy space, boasting high ceilings and stunning chandeliers. There are no starters as such. Instead, there is a ‘To begin’ section, with nibbles such as olives, bread and anchovies in vinegar from £2.50 to £5. Then there is the artisan cheese section, with 10 varieties. Finally there is the cured meats and ham section – not forgetting the Jamón Ibérico, which is made from pure-bred, free-range pigs fed only on acorns. It’s happiness on a dish.
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