Spanish tapas may suggest a familiar course for a night out, but Toro didn’t become a Boston icon by sticking to the script. Chef-owner Ken Oringer (and his former partner Jamie Bissonnette, who left the restaurant group in 2023) made the likes of street corn-inspired Maíz Asado and a handheld Uni Bocadillo with miso butter staples as much as jamón Iberico and Paella Valenciana. Meanwhile, the bar program—which introduced Boston to the porrón (a traditional Catalan drinking vessel that’s like a cross between a wine carafe and a watering can) and cocktails like the frosty Frezcal—is just one of the reasons Toro is among our favorite party places. More than a decade in, this popular South End spot still commands crowds night after night in the convivial dining room and on its hidden-gem patio.
The Best Spanish Restaurants in Boston
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Spanish cuisine is richly diverse and decadently delicious, united by the likes of zesty olive oil, meat, cheese, seafood, and wine—glorious wine. In Boston, this worldly fare typically translates as tapas, Barcelona’s most famous shareable small plates. From the chic to the oh-so-whimsical, here’s where to find the best Spanish restaurants in Boston.
Taberna de Haro
Chef-owner-sommelier Deborah Hansen established Taberna de Haro nearly 30 years ago to bring authentic Spanish cuisine to Boston. She certainly succeeded with tapas such as Buñuelos de Bacalao (saffron-salt cod bites) and local clams with spicy chorizo always on the menu, plus seasonal specials like fresh Sardinas with romesco. But where the taberna has truly made its mark is via Hansen’s unparalleled list of Spanish wine and sherries. With more than 300 bottles, the Brookline spot has earned inclusion among Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wine Lists in America and a James Beard Award nomination for Outstanding Wine Program. For locals like us, it’s downright fun to explore—and it’s right on the Green Line. We love the bar and the alfresco patio open whenever the weather is above 50 degrees.
Pagu is part-Spanish tapas joint, part-Japanese izakaya, part French bakery, and all Cambridge. The Central Square restaurant is the unique realization of chef-owner Tracy Chang’s influences and experiences, which include time spent working with chef Martín Berasategui at his Michelin three-star restaurant in San Sebastian. You’ll taste that background by way of acorn-fed Aljomar jamón ibérico and Pan con Tamate—as well as the worldly local’s own spin on Spanish flavors, such as Black Cod Croquetas with Thai chili alioli, an extra-garlicky version of the traditional condiment; and Basque Burnt Cheesecake with Maine blueberry sauce. Spanish flavors abound on the bar, where there are numerous Iberian wines as well as cocktails like Kyoto Temple, made with Japanese tea, whiskey, and fino sherry.
The small plates at Tres Gatos are certainly inspired by Barcelona, but these seasonally changing Spanish tapas sport flavors from around the world—and ingredients from the backyard. (Seriously, at the right time of year, the mint that crowns your cocktail or the oregano in the chimichurri was plucked straight from the raised-bed garden.) Take one of our faves, the Gambas al Ajillo: these large, head-on shrimp come off the plancha and into a dish of a vibrant, addictively delicious zhoug, a Yemeni cilantro sauce. The summer menu often includes ceviche, which features flavor combinations like halibut with shoyu, mint, husk cherries, and peanut salsa macha. We could go on, but you should just taste for yourself. Once somebody’s house and currently also a bookstore and record shop, this Jamaica Plain restaurant is cozy for date-night and totally unique.
Bacelona Wine Bar
This chain of Spanish restaurants has three local locations: in the South End, Brookline, and newly on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge. Across the land, Barcelona Wine Bar is beloved for an always-lively scene, like the big, horseshoe bar in Boston and the spacious patio in Washington Square. We love that 3- and 6-ounce glasses of wine are options on the menu so we can try more for our money. Ask your server about matches for the Spiced Beef Empanadas and the Hen of the Woods Mushrooms with polenta, aged Mahón cheese, and brown butter. Pro tip: The Brookline and South End outposts offer happy-hour specials on weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. with $7 “mini cocktails” and special small plates (did somebody say Mini Churros with chocolate sauce?!).
A truly transportive dining experience in Somerville, Dalí introduced the Boston area to a whole new Old World when it debuted more than 30 years ago. Named for and inspired by a surrealist Spanish innovator, the restaurant is revelatory in design and decor: Textural, colorful, and ornamental, it’s absolutely prime for a party. (Don’t pass up the porrón or the special shot combinations!) If you grab a seat at the mosaic-tiled bar, beneath vining greenery, florals, and fancy fish bones, you’ll want to fill the counter with grilled tapas, such as Pulpo A’Feira, or grilled octopus with Spanish pimentón on potato medallions; and Chuletillas de Cordero, or grilled lamb lollipop chops with peach sauce. We also love the rich and rustic Alcachofas Rellenas, mushroom and Manchego-stuffed artichokes.