Spanish Restaurants in St James's
1. Dehesa Italian restaurant in Soho 25 Ganton Street - W1
“Delicious” Spanish and Italian tapas and “a great choice of wines by the glass” win plaudits for this “romantic candlelit restaurant”, “tucked away conveniently behind Liberty just off Carnaby Street”. However, since its fabulous debut 15 years ago, it is undeniably “less superb than it used to be”, but “that’s partly due to standing still while everyone else continues to press forwards”.
2. Cakes and Bubbles Spanish restaurant in Westminster Hotel Café Royal, 70 Regent Street - W1B
“Extraordinary” and “visually stunning” – the desserts and cakes at this café on a prime site in Regent Street come sprinkled with Adrià family magic (patron Albert is the brother of Catalan genius Ferran Adrià, and worked as pastry chef at his world-beating restaurant El Bulli, RIP). However, even those who feel “the desserts are really exceptional” can also note that “they don’t really deserve the price tags”. Still, “once at least you should give it a try, especially with all London’s Christmas lights aglow”.
3. Sabor Spanish restaurant in Mayfair 35 Heddon St - W1B
“A little bit of San Sebastián in the heart of the West End” – “grab a seat at the counter and watch the magic unfold in front of you” at Nieves Barragan and José Etura’s tapas bar (ground floor) and ‘Asador’ (first floor), an “all-time-favourite” which – despite the travails of the era – “just goes from strength to strength as one of the strongest Spanish restaurants in London”. “Top-notch Iberian food is served with élan” – “heart and soul-filling, happy and warm, tear-inducing dishes” – and service is “so lovely and welcoming”. “Limited bookings mean that there is always a queue to get in from when the doors open at lunch” and “the queue can be long”. But “it’s pleasing to hear that there are now bookable small tables upstairs”, as many feel that “the Asador has got better now they have replaced the sharing benches with a proper arrangement”. Top Tip – Asador means BBQ of a complete animal, and “if you crave suckling pig, this is the place!”
4. Kitty Fisher's British, Modern restaurant in Mayfair 10 Shepherd's Market - W1
This “very small, charming and romantic” venture in Shepherd Market was briefly the hottest ticket in town in the mid noughties (providing a much-PR’d date night for David & Samantha Cameron). Nowadays, those who remember the historic hype can find it “overrated” or “dependable rather than… wow!”, but overall its food is well-rated. Top Menu Tip – Belted Galloway Wing Rib and “cosmic crispy potatoes!”
5. Tapas Brindisa Soho Spanish restaurant in Soho 46 Broadwick St - W1
“Delicious tapas with a view of the River Thames” from “a large open terrace” is going down a storm at the instantly popular, new Richmond branch of the well-known chain (occupying the prominent site that was formerly Jackson & Rye, RIP). Backed by the firm of wholesalers of the same name, the group has steadily grown from its Borough Market origins over the last 10 years, and fans feel “it’s exactly what you would expect from a place run by Spanish produce importers”. On the downside, though, there is a school of thought that “while the food’s done decently, it’s serviceable but unexciting”.
6. El Pirata Spanish restaurant in Mayfair 5-6 Down St - W1
This old-school tapas bar tucked away in Mayfair boasts an “interesting wine list, attentive staff and fun atmosphere”. There’s a “good selection of dishes – nothing spectacular, but a pretty decent effort across hot and cold tapas”. It’s “not particularly cheap” by most standards, but in this part of London prices are often astronomical. The most famous pirate of modern times, Johnny Depp, has apparently swung by for a tapa or two.
7. Barrafina Spanish restaurant in Soho 26-27 Dean Street - W1
“Sights and smells of Spain sitting at the counter” provide “heaven on a stool” at the Hart Bros’ faithful recreations of Barcelona’s Cal Pep: still, after 15 years, one of the most-mentioned groups in our survey. The “extraordinary tapas is full of fresh ideas” – there’s “always something new to try on the menu” (created by their chef/director Angel Zapata Martin) – and it “still deserves top marks, particularly the seafood” (which is the only option nowadays at the WC2 ‘Mariscos’ outlet). A meal is “not cheap” mind you (in fact, even fans can find prices “crazy”) but the overall verdict? “Worth the queue, and the bill!” (In July 2022, they added a new, fifth branch to the group, in SE1’s Borough Yards developments).
8. José Pizarro at the RA Spanish restaurant in St James's Royal Academy, Burlington Gardens, Piccadilly - W1J
“I was expecting this to be a luke-warm franchise type of place, but the food was really exceptional!” – José P has confounded any sceptics with his takeover of this “relaxing oasis” within the famous Piccadilly art institution: “a fantastic addition to the dining scene in London” with “fabulous tapas”, “served impeccably” in a “stunning” dining room where you eat “surrounded by art”.
9. El Norte Spanish restaurant in Mayfair 19-20 Dover Street - W1S
“Top-class Hispanic cuisine is served in an atmosphere of easy luxury” at this Mayfair yearling from Spanish twins Alberto and Arian Zandi – their third London restaurant following Zuaya and Como Garden in Kensington. “Both taste and texture of the food are spot on”, but even fans who say “it really is a super restaurant” can fret that “prices are a bit out of control” (but for the most part feel “you get what you pay for”).
10. Mountain Spanish restaurant in 16-18 Beak Street - W1
Opened in July 2023 in the heart of Soho, on the former site of a Byron, Brat chef Tomos Parry's "wood grill and wine bar" is inspired by his travels across Spain and supplied by farmers and fisherman in Wales and Cornwall. Whole roast bream will be a feature as will lamb chops, and Anglesey lobster – all will emerge, as at Brat, from an open kitchen and the venue will incorporate a good deal of counter seating.
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