Header image courtesy of Pica Pica (via Facebook)
Small plates made for sharing, considered to be a form of intangible cultural heritage—no, we’re not talking about dim sum. Tapas, that Spanish custom of having “pica pica,”—“a little bit of this, a little bit of that”—is perfect for those who enjoy trying a variety of delicious morsels without getting stuffed; a way to experience a smorgasbord without having to rally a huge group of friends. Whether you choose to have a few nibbles over a glass of sangria or fancy filling up on Spanish flavours, here are the best places to get tapas in Hong Kong.
Headed up by Spanish native Rubén Beltrán, Pica Pica is a contemporary tapas bar located directly opposite the Western Market’s red-bricked façade. Well-appointed with a warm and inviting atmosphere, the restaurant’s industrial-inspired interiors provide ample room for casual catch-ups over snacks, while counter tables at the large arched windows provide views of the hustle and bustle outside. While “rooted in tradition,” the dishes are all given a little modern spin—think deboned suckling pig with sweet potato purée ($175) and a slow-cooked egg with chorizo ($85) that’s lightened with silky potato foam. Don’t forget to leave room for the lobster and octopus “juicy rice” ($340) and Catalan cream foam with vanilla ice cream ($55).
Pica Pica, 321 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2811 9800
Named after the Spanish phrase for “light my fire,” this popular tapas restaurant and bar has been a mainstay on Lamma Island since 2017. Chef-owner Carlos Andres whips up traditional tapas dishes such as paella, tacos, fresh fish, and salads, with plenty of creative and quirky twists to keep things interesting. There is plenty to love on the menu, but the patatas bravas ($45), fish tacos ($90), Galician-style octopus ($180), and garlic prawns ($100) are among our favourites.
On weekdays, the set lunch offers three generously portioned courses for just $120, with past plates including homemade gnocchi and the fan favourite smoked duck tacos. Chill at one of the outdoor tables with a jug of sangria ($160) or grab one of the “famously massive” gin and tonics at night to enjoy the live DJing—if you’re lucky, you may even catch one of their semi-regular vinyl nights!
Dale Candela, 23 Main Street, Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island
Occupying the same spot on Ice House Street for over 20 years, Olé is a longtime favourite offering a rustic Spanish atmosphere and hearty, delicious food. Everything from the yellow plaster walls to the decorative pottery, ornate wrought spiral staircase, and curved alcoves evoke old-school Mediterranean hospitality. Of the tapas, we like the porcini croquettes with truffle ali oli ($120), deep-fried Padrón peppers ($90), anchovies in vinegar, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil ($158), and the classic garlic prawns ($148).
A limited selection of tapas dishes are available as add-ons when you order the three-course set lunch ($268), but if it’s a tapas spread you’re after, the weekend brunch (starting from $438) provides much more bang for your buck, with a whopping six tapas brought to the table as sharing starters—and that’s before you even get to mains and desserts! (We highly recommend wearing clothes with elasticated waistbands in this scenario.)
Olé Spanish Restaurant, 1/F, Shun Ho Tower, 24 Ice House Street, Central | (+852) 2537 8856
Spanning 5,000 square feet with enviable views of the harbourfront, this spin-off of the original Catalunya in Wan Chai offers a comprehensive menu of tapas, both traditional and contemporary, alongside fresh seafood and meat dishes, a selection of paellas, and delectable Spanish desserts. Whet your appetite with the tomato tartare ($120) with capers and gherkins or the classic pan de cristal con tomato ($75) before moving onto plates like the Japanese-inflected ensaladilla rusa ($180), which marries the potato salad with marinated tuna and seaweed.
Of the bigger dishes, seafood lovers will no doubt be keen on the red prawn squid ink paella (starting from $550), while large groups must try the traditional suckling pig ($950). Finish things off on a sweet note with the churro sundae ($110) featuring cinnamon sugar churros, vanilla ice cream, and caramel sauce.
La Rambla by Catalunya, Shop 3071–73, Level 3, IFC Mall, Central | (+852) 2661 1161
With its neon-drenched façade and glowing doorway that looks like an optical illusion, Tapa Room looks at first to be more like a nightclub or trendy immersive art exhibition than a Spanish restaurant. With three branches across Kwun tong, Causeway Bay, and Tsim Sha Tsui, this trendy local chain is known for its delicious fusion tapas.
While some dishes, such as the broken egg with jamón serrano ($68) are presented in a more traditional Spanish way, many plates include a twist of some sort adapted for the local palate—a preponderance of foie gras or the use of cod roe in a Spanish potato omelette (starting from $78), for example. That creative approach lends itself especially well to one of our favourite items on the menu, the virgin sangria jelly with berries ($48), which provides a lovely refreshing burst of fruit flavour tempered with wine.
Yet another local chain, El Cerdo has two branches—the original Tsuen Wan haunt and a newly opened Soho location, amongst all the action on Elgin Street. A concise menu of small plates is split into five sections: classics, cured meats and cheeses, seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes.
We love the thinly sliced cured pork blood sausage with paprika ($68), which you can order on its own or as part of the Iberian meat platter ($168), while the Moorish spiced meatballs in tomato sauce ($78) and chickpeas with Basque-style chorizo in tomato sauce ($88) are always a good shout. If you happen to work or live nearby, the very reasonable lunch menus offer diners the option of three or five courses for under $200, with dishes like Ibérico ham croquettes and pan-fried squid with chorizo, garlic, and chilli available along with soups, salads, and desserts.