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.
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 Broken Eggs “Huevos rotos”, Charcoal Grilled Flat Iron Steak, and Seafood Charcoal Baked Rice “Al horno” (for two), 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 3pm) 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
Iberico & Co
Award-winning restaurant Iberico has been a hit since opening its doors back in 2013, and we’re pretty sure it’s because of the legendary Crispy Cider Roasted Pork Belly with apples (pictured) which has been known to start fights over the dinner table. We’re not kidding, you will definitely need to order a few of these. Pork belly aside, the stylish modern interior, inspired by the Estacio de Franca train station in Barcelona, occupies a huge space which is a rarity in the bustling streets of SoHo. The menu is outstanding too, showcasing classic Portuguese and Spanish ingredients like chorizo, serrano, sardines, octopus, and white anchovies which are prepared with hearty slow cooking techniques and served as tapas to share – or fight over! Must-orders include the Fries with Black Truffle Salt & White Truffle Oil, Panfried Spicy Chorizo with Onions, Goats Cheese Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, and Tuna Ceviche. While you’re there, make sure to try one of the eleven sangria cocktails on offer – or better still, arrive during happy hour (from 3pm to 7pm daily) and enjoy several for $52 a pop!
Iberico & Co, G/F, 18 Shelley Street Soho, Central, (+852) 2752 8811
FoFo by el Willy
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 “Jamon” Hand Sliced Iberico Ham, Explosive Smoked Salmon Air Bag, and Scallop Ceviche with Avocado and Crispy Shallots. There are some tasty omelets 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. 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 Gambon Grilled Tiger Prawns with “Chimichurri” Sauce and Lemon, Wagyu Short Rib with Sweet Potato Fries, and Crispy Slow Roasted Suckling Pig. If you’re famished, then the all-you-can-eat dinner menu is an appealing option, and comes in at a reasonable $350 per person. This gets you four tasty tapas dishes and unlimited suckling pig and seafood paella. Otherwise, the Sexy Brunch Menu ($288 per head) is a great choice for larger groups, offering several tapas dishes and unlimited paella and suckling pig, plus free-flow sangria, wine, or cava for an additional $208. 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
Olé Spanish Restaurant and Wine Bar
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 and Wine Bar 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 newly launched weekend brunch ($380 per person) which features twenty 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. Magic!
Olé Spanish Restaurant and Wine Bar, 1/F, Shun Ho Tower, 24 Ice House Street, Central, (+852) 2537 8856
Brunch is available every Saturday and public holiday from 12pm to 3pm
$380 (adults) $228 (kids) Free-flow options: juice and soft drinks ($88) / Cava and Sangria ($150) / White wine, red wine, Cava, and Sangria ($180)
La Rambla by Catalunya
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 (with regular paellas starting from $420 and tapas hitting around the $150/$200 mark), it certainly leaves a good impression – and flavour. The brunch option is perhaps more appealing, getting you several tapas, made-to-order paellas, and meaty dishes for $550 per person. There are also free-flow packages available, with some cracking gin and tonics of 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, 3071-73 Level 3, ifc mall, Central, (+852) 2661 1161
Ham & Sherry
Tucked away in trendy Ship Street, bar slash restaurant Ham & Sherry offers a more casual take on dining in (Spanish) style. The venue serves a range of rustic Spanish dishes perfect for sharing, as well as Asia’s largest sherry list. Its vibrant, modern Spanish ‘bodega’ ambience, with blue and white tiled walls, gives it a certain ‘drop in’ feel, made all the more appealing by the open kitchen in the centre which offers counter seats to watch the chefs in action. Signature dishes include the Iberico Pork and Chorizo Burgers with Black Garlic and Pickles, Seafood Paella, Scallop Ceviche, and Jamon with Manchego and Truffle Toastie, and Quail Eggs, which each fall under the $200 mark. Be sure to check out Back Bar while you’re there, which can be accessed through a side door located in an alleyway next to Ham and Sherry. Presenting a moody, industrial vibe, completely unlike the connecting restaurant, the bar is known for serving some of the best cocktails in town – the Dumpling Martini and Don’t ‘Lai Cha’ Me (both $120) are just fabulous!
Ham & Sherry, 1-7 Ship Street, Wan Chai, (+852) 2555 0628
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 neighborhood 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 Crispy Duck Egg, Grains, Confit Leg, the Braised Chorizo with Red Wine, Onion, and Peppers, and the Peanut Butter Condensed Milk Banana for dessert. 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
Solera Spanish Restaurant
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 Haloumi 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!