Teach Me How to Eat in a Tapas Bar

Work is being done on a restaurant here in Springfield that is soon to open as a tapas bar.

My only experience with tapas is what I’ve seen via food porn on the Travel Channel and Food Network. While the dishes look fun, I’m not clear on the experience itself.

Do I order each tapa a la carte? Do I pay one price and get, say, five? Is it an all-you-can-eat buffet of tapas?

Also, I get that the pricing structure for tapas in Springfield will differ from that of, say Barcelona or Chicago, but can someone give me a general idea of what I’ll be paying?


My experience is that each item on the menu is roughly the same size and price as an appetiser at an ordinary restaurant, and that three items would be enough to make a reasonable meal. It’s more fun if you are with others: a party of four might order a dozen items, and share them with each other. However, you can eat alone too.

Cafe Tu Tu Tango is a tapas restaurant. It’s recommended you go with friends. Everyone orders two or three different things, then you share. It’s a lot of fun.

We’ve had a couple of Dopefests at the one in Orange, CA. They were fun. :slight_smile:

I just looked at the West Coast menu, and I didn’t see the Alligator Bites. Too bad. Those were great.

Nothing to add, but I do have an amusing anecdote.

Tapas bars (restaurants) are popular nowadays, but no so much when I entered the professional working world almost 20 years ago in NYCity. I’d never heard of a “tapas bar” at that time.

In a very prim, proper, and professional setting a colleague suggested we take a group of visiting clients out to lunch at a tapas bar. I thought she said “topless”. She then asked me if I knew any good ones. (I kept a perfectly straight face and insisted I didn’t.)

The rehearsal dinner for our wedding was held at a tapas restaurant. When I called each of my groomsmen and told them we would be going to a tapas place, they each initially thought that I would be marrying the coolest woman in the world (I did, but not because we had dinner at a topless restaurant).

We have a tapas bar in Flint.

Here’s a link to their menu with prices:

I was disappointed with the preponderance of greek food on the menu. I was hoping for more spanish food.

The kitchen will typically serve up some of your orders faster than others, in no particular order, so you’ll have a constant stream of dishes coming to your table. Toward the end you’ll have long since forgotten what you ordered, so everything will seem like a little surprise. You’ll likely be full by then, too, since it’s easy to over-order.

I went to one years ago in DC following a hockey game. We basically ordered a round of drinks, and a couple of plates. We repeated until we had had enough… then ordered one more (ok, it was 2) rounds of drinks, and hopped a cab back to the hotel.

It was a fairly casual affair, and easy to figure out when we sat down, and looked around.

I miss working in DC on an expense account.

Was that Jaleo on 7th Street NW? I’ve been there 2 or 3 times, and it’s great fun, with interesting food.

Wowie. Looking at the menus from the links provided is making me hungry! If anything, it looks like there might be too many options to choose from!

That’s why you need to go with some other people.

I usually try to go with as many friends as possible the more the better the experience. Each person orders one or two items then everyone samples anything they may be interested in. Everyone orders more. Repeat until everyone has had enough. Usually it works out on the more expensive side of meals but good times and food are had by all.

If you want to be really authentic (like in Spain), you have to hop from bar to bar to bar, eating and drinking in each one. And if you don’t bring friends, make some new ones along the way.

In Spain, it seems much more affordable—most places will give you a pretty decent sized portion (3-4 portions would make a substantial meal) for around 3 or 4 euros each, depending on the type of tapas you order.

When I have gone out for tapas in USA it is seems WAY more expensive than Madrid or Barcelona would be for a similar amount of food.

(of course, it is all dependant on where you are specifically at, I am sure there must be some reasonably priced tapas places around, but the ones I have visited were pretty expensive for what they offered)

If you’re going there by yourself, I’d recommend ordering three tapas to start with. This will usually be enough for a meal, but if you’re still hungry you can order more. If you’re going with other people, I’d suggest ordering two tapas a person (and share them, of course). You won’t be filled up by these, so you’ll have to order at least one more round of tapas, but then if you’re with other people I presume that you’ll want to hang around for a while anyway. Tapas are not cheap in the U.S. It will cost you at least $22 (including tax and tip) just for the food.

Jaleo in D.C. is also the one I’ve been to. I’ve also been to the other Jaleo in Bethesda, Maryland. That’s where we did a Dopefest, in fact.

Perhaps that’s because in Spain, tapas is really just a bunch of bar snacks, rather than restaurant food. The best bars in Spain are the ones that give you tapas for free, the more fancy the more you drink.

Great, hazy memories…

I’d love to say yes, as the pictures look a little familiar, but at the time, the place was crowded, dark, smokey, and a bit blurry already (Pregame, and the game had already passed). It was also more than 10 years ago, when I was single, and younger.

We walked from the game to the bar, so the distance looks right.

I do remember it was a great time though.

How do they enforce that? If you order a round of beer, they bring you crap; if you order a bottle of house wine, you get some yummy stuff; and if you order expensive cocktails you get really awesome tapas?

My experience at Tapas places is usually that we order in rounds – everybody in our group will order 1 (or maybe 2) items, and we’ll share. If there’s just two of us, we’ll probably order 3-4 items per round. We usually start with a round of cold items, followed by a round of hot items, and then (if still hungry) maybe a few more. Since hot items typically take more time than cold, we often actually ordered the first two rounds together, and just ate as things came out of the kitchen.

No idea if that’s a typical or recommended format, but it’s how I’ve always done it. I do recall the first Tapas place I went to (in Geneva, IL, though the name escapes me now) suggesting the “start with one hot and one cold dish apiece” thing, and it’s just how I’ve always continued to order.