Tempting Dishes to Share with Friends in Edinburgh's Tapas Restaurants

Tapas restaurants and bars are very popular in Edinburgh, perhaps because they are perfect for those wanting a drink and a bite to eat as well as some lively conversation.

Tapas developed in the Andalusian region of Spain and became popular across the country before being exported across the globe. It is thought that the name “tapas” (which translates as “lid”) refers to the fact that in Andalusian pubs bartenders used to put plates over the top of sherry glasses to prevent fruit flies being attracted to the liquor. Bars began to compete to top these plates with tasty morsels of food and as chorizo and ham were both salty (and therefore encouraged patrons to drink more) they became great tapas favorites.

In keeping with their origin, tapas dishes are meant to be a small portion of something lovely and for a full meal you order a few dishes and share them with friends. Tapa in Leith is the perfect spot to sample some traditional Spanish dishes.

As new ingredients and cooking styles were brought to Spain, new dishes were added to the repertoire and tapas style dining widened its horizons. Now you can now enjoy tapas style dishes from many other cultures too. Indian tapas is particularly popular with restaurants such as Tuk Tuk serving delicious street food.

Traditional or unconventional, you are sure to be beguiled by the variety and flavor of tapas if you check out the restaurants on our list.

El Quijote
Photo courtesy of El Quijote

El Quijote is a charming and authentic tapas bar with loads of charisma. The menu largely features Andalusian specialties rather than the tired combination of tortilla, paella and patatas bravas served up by other tapas restaurants (although...  Read More

La Tasca is a great Tapas restaurant located in the heart of Edinburgh. The interior is warm terracotta, dotted with brightly painted pottery and tiles. Wooden benches and chairs are studded with colorful cushions and candles flicker invitingly....  Read More


Malvarosa is named after the beach in Valencia, and is located in Portobello – close to Edinburgh's beach. It has a wonderfully laid back and friendly atmosphere and the owner is always present to welcome guests. Inside the restaurant, subtle...  Read More

La Sal is a cozy little tapas restaurant in the heart of Newington close to the Pleasance and Edinburgh University. The interior is simple and comfortable with rich warm wood complimented by warm dark blue walls and colorful prints. You can also...  Read More

Tapame offers what may at first seem to be a strange combination of Spanish tapas and Greek mezze dishes. With a menu which includes many tapas favorites but adds to them a wide selection of meat and cheese platters, great salads, pasta and rice...  Read More

The idea here is to share your food and experience something new. Mother India's Cafe offers a twist on the tapas style so each person orders a few dishes and everyone tucks in. The dishes are a bit bigger than traditional tapas so you won't...  Read More

Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food is a welcome new addition to Edinburgh which brings with it an exuberant love of Indian street food and a kitsch sense of humor. The decor is bright and vibrant with retro Bollywood posters, garishly colored chairs,...  Read More

Indaba offers an unusual blend of classic Spanish tapas dishes with South American and South African dishes and a few Scottish favorites. Although this combination sounds unusual, in practice it is rather refreshing. The traditional tapas dishes...  Read More

Linked to Igg's Restaurant in the Old Town is the hip and trendy Barioja Tapas Bar. Barioja shares a kitchen with Iggs, and both are managed by the flamboyant Iggy Campos, so a certain level of quality is to be expected. However, Barioja is much...  Read More

Situated in a converted bonded warehouse in a cobbled street behind the Shore in Leith, Tapa offers patrons a wide range of traditional tapas dishes and a few surprises. Simple wooden tables and chairs are complemented by the warm colors of the...  Read More


Meet Simon Hill

Simon has lived in various corners of Edinburgh over the last 18 years. He fell in love with the city as a small child after visiting the castle and returned to study Scottish History.

After...  More About Simon

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