Header image courtesy of Olé Spanish Restaurant & Wine Bar (via Facebook)
Originally published by Sophie Pettit. Last updated by Jen Paolini.
Sharing is caring, and with so many amazing Spanish restaurants dotted around Hong Kong, each serving tasty tapas and more, love is definitely in the air when it comes to dining out in the 852. So the next time you find yourself craving a piping hot paella or ice-cold sangria, be sure to check out these venues that won’t fail to impress even the pickiest hombres and chicas.
The Spanish culinary team behind Pica Pica has unveiled a second tapas concept, now open on Hollywood Road. Specialising in premium cuts of beef from the Galician Hills of northern Spain, Rubia pays homage to the lively and jovial atmosphere of Mediterranean taverns, with hearty dishes to boot.
Must-tries include their signature 250-gram Rubia Gallega boneless rib-eye ($499) and 250-gram Rubia Gallega tenderloin ($527), as well as the acorn-fed ibérico pork short ribs ($395). Pop in for a drink or two during happy hour and nibble off of the tapas menu to get an introductory taste. The steak tartare with bone marrow ($220), padrón peppers ($75), and flavourful cured white anchovies with garlic picada ($65) come highly recommended and are perfectly sized for sharing.
Rubia, UG/F & 1/F, C Wisdom Centre, 35–37 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 2889 1199
Highly-lauded Spanish restaurant Pica Pica continues to delight the Sheung Wan neighbourhood. From their tapas-oriented menu that highlights the best of seasonal ingredients, head chef Edgar Sanuy Barahona presents contemporary creations like red prawns carpaccio ($135) with finger lime and squid ink cracker; piping-hot Ibérico ham croquettes ($15 per piece), and Galician-style octopus on potato “al caliu” ($130). Of course, one of Spain’s most popular exports, the paella (a Valencian rice dish), makes an appearance in the form of the black paella rice (starting from $115) and the lobster & octopus juicy rice ($340). We’ll wrap up with a dessert, the vanilla ice cream with Catalan cream foam ($50), to make this meal a true holiday experience.
Pica Pica, Shop G & H, G/F, 317–321 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2811 9880
Espuma, in our opinion, does a little bit of everything: It offers modern Asian-Spanish fusion cuisine and delicious roasted coffees done the Barcelona way, all in modern European interiors designed to encourage a sense of comfort and home. It’s no wonder then that we find their deep-fried churros the most comforting part of their menu, served with a miniature cup of chocolate sauce and a whole lot of love. Shaped in a long oval, with the ends so neatly tucked together that they look like large throwing hoops, it’s hard to deny these sugary treats.
Not only home to some of the best gin cocktails in town, but also some of the most drool-inducing northern Spanish dishes, The Optimist is as authentic as it gets. With over a dozen small dishes to choose from, as well as tantalising meat, fish, and charcoal baked mains, you'll definitely want to gather the gang and share a few.
Among our favourites are the charcoal-grilled flat iron steak and seafood charcoal-baked rice “al horno,” but if the options are too overwhelming, you can always opt for the classic tasting menu which gets you four starters, a choice of four mains, and a dessert for $480 per person.
While The Optimist sits at the more modern and stylish end of the scale, it certainly doesn’t lack in atmosphere, with brass lamps, vintage pictures, gold railings and studded brown leather upholstery evoking a rich, European ambience with Barcelona-style influences. Arrive during happy hour any day of the week (from 3 pm) and you’ll also get to sip on gorgeous cocktails like the Bramble for a piddly $48. Winner!
The Optimist, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2433 3324
With menus designed by award-winning chef Willy Trullas Moreno from Barcelona, contemporary Spanish restaurant FoFo by el Willy has earned a sterling reputation in Hong Kong, and it’s not hard to see why. In this spacious and airy setting, adorned with loveable chubby pigs and penguins (owing to the translation of FoFo meaning “fat belly”) the venue offers more than sixty dishes focusing on Spanish classics with a modern twist.
Signatures include the hand-sliced Ibérico ham, explosive smoked salmon airbag, and scallop ceviche with avocado and crispy shallots. There are some tasty omelettes, too, as well as special tapas and creative rice dishes such as the black juicy rice with squid and green peas. Boasting a relaxing setting which overlooks the lush green mountains of the Central district, FoFo is the perfect spot to indulge in a fiesta of Spanish flavours—and penguins.
FoFo by el Willy, 20/F, M88, 2–8 Wellington Street, Central | (+852) 2900 2009
Located in the hip neighbourhood of Sai Ying Pun, La Paloma (which literally translates to “The Pigeon”) is certainly striking on the eye, boasting a spacious venue adorned with fresh and modern decor, funky furnishings, and bursts of colour which help to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It’s also home to Hong Kong’s largest paella pan!
Here, guests can watch the chefs whipping up treats in the interactive, open kitchen as they prepare a plethora of tapas, signature rice dishes, and wood oven delights like the grilled tiger prawns with “chimichurri” sauce and lemon, Wagyu short rib with sweet potato fries, and crispy slow-roasted suckling pig. Just make sure you leave plenty of room for those heavenly churros at the end!
La Paloma, 189 Queen’s Road West, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2291 6161
There’s a reason this legendary Spanish eatery has remained a Central landmark for the past 20 years—the food is amazing! Swaying more towards the traditional side of Spanish culture and cuisine, the cosy setting of Olé Spanish Restaurant oozes romance and an old-world charm that is often lost in favour of more contemporary tastes.
If you love tapas and are a sucker for romance, then you will love the classic menu of all-time favourite Spanish dishes, all served among the rustic arched alcoves of this timeless gem. And that’s not all—you may also find yourself falling under the spell of the musical duo who serenade you at your table on flamenco guitars. Diners will be charmed to the core as they tuck into the sizzling garlic prawns, baby squids in ink sauce, and traditional Spanish seafood paella, all the while listening to those beautiful strings.
Olé Spanish Restaurant, 1/F, Shun Ho Tower, 24 Ice House Street, Central | (+852) 2537 8856
The latest restaurant to join the Spanish dining scene in Hong Kong, La Rambla by Catalunya boasts a gigantic 5,000-square-foot space at IFC Mall, which overlooks the iconic Victoria Harbour. This modern, sleek venue offers a Catalan-inspired menu which showcases the freshest ingredients from the region, as well as seasonal seafood flown in twice weekly from Spain, Europe, and Japan.
The menu includes a diverse range of tapas, meat and seafood dishes, and must-try paellas, and while this certainly isn’t the cheapest dining option when it comes to Spanish cuisine, it certainly leaves a good impression—and flavour. The brunch ($550) is perhaps more appealing, getting you several tapas, made-to-order paellas, and meaty dishes. There are also free-flow packages available, with some cracking gin and tonics on offer and, of course, sangria. You can also choose to sit on the beautiful outdoor terrace and nibble on bar snacks from a separate (and more affordable) menu while enjoying a live DJ on the weekends.
La Rambla by Catalunya, Shop 3071–73, Level 3, IFC Mall, Central | (+852) 2661 1161
Just across the road from Ham & Sherry lies its sister venue 22 Ships, which has remained a landmark for good restaurants in the Wan Chai neighbourhood since opening its doors in 2012. With window seating providing the perfect people-watching spot, and another central counter with open kitchen inviting diners to catch all the action in the kitchen, this is a great place for a casual catch up with friends. Must-orders include the summer gazpacho with cucumber sorbet ($68), rusa and sea urchin on toast ($180), blue lobster paella with salmorreta (starting from $380), and roasted suckling pig with grilled gem lettuce and pomegranate ($380). Keep an eye on the specials board which changes frequently, offering up delectable seasonal dishes that never fail to impress.
22 Ships, 22 Ship Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2555 0722
Across the pond and not too far away, Discovery Bay staple Solera Spanish Restaurant offers a splash of colour and charm to an otherwise soulless dining scene. The menu offers both traditional and contemporary Spanish cuisine, with an impressive range of salads, soups, pasta, and paella dishes, as well as six tantalising desserts that aim to satisfy all taste buds.
Guests can feast on must-order dishes such as the porcini meatballs, Greek fried rice with halloumi cheese, and black ink seafood linguini, all served in rustic plates which align with the venue’s authentic vibe. This modern, friendly restaurant is a great option for lunch and dinner, should you choose to venture to DB for the day. Aim to sit by the window for stunning views of the ocean, or better still, swing by on a Friday night and catch some live acoustic music. Be warned though, the sangria here is lethal—they soak the watermelon in vodka for several hours before it hits your glass!
Solera Spanish Restaurant, Shop 101, 1/F, D’Deck, Discovery Bay | (+852) 2555 0772