Cozy Spanish tavernas in Toronto

Is there any country in the world that does bar food better than Spain? Don’t worry, you don’t need to cross the pond, we’ve hand-picked the city’s top spots for authentic Spanish tapas. These cozy tavernas are serving up some of the most piquant-in-flavour small plates in Toronto – and they each boast their own unique, chilled-out vibe to boot.

Bar Isabel

797 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1C7

Eat, drink, be merry – this is the motto of one of Toronto’s most coveted restaurant for tapas this side of Barcelona. This College and Ossington hotspot serves up authentic tapas brimming with flavor, in a sexy, intimate setting. Glowing overhead lighting and a mosaic floor provide a comfy and cool backdrop for munching plates of P.E.I. littleneck clams, satiating cheese plates and octopus, and knocking back some serious libations. Top pick: if you’re dining with three or more, order a Negroni fountain – the classic cocktail is served up in a tall punch bowl with side-spouts for pouring.

Bar Raval

505 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1A5

With a baroque interior design that’ll make you blurt out the word “beautiful” as soon as you walk in, this College and Palmerston taverna is a must-visit for a post-work fuel-up or night of imbibing with friends. This sleek yet unpretentious setting has garnered international acclaim for its decor and since it’s designed for standing and gathering around a few oversized barrel tables, it’s also a spot where you’re likely to meet some new and interesting people. Canned tuna belly and squid in ink burst with deep flavours, and shared plates like the beef tenderloin and tomato bread rival those found in the Raval neighbourhood of Barcelona. Oh, and save room for dessert – the lemon and fennel pollen doughnut is to die for.

Cava Restaurant

114-1560 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4T 2S9

This midtown taverna not only knows its tapas, but it’s known for some of the best sweet breads in the city (sneak peak: they’re roasted rather than fried). Traditional shared plates and a rotating menu offer a host of savoury and inventive dishes. Dining alone? Most dishes can be made as half-portions. The must-try is Cava’s longest-standing dish: fried chunks of eggplant with queso fresco, bonito and tomatillo sauce. If you’re not the biggest eggplant fan, you may look at the aubergine in a whole new light after tasting this delicacy.

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