This is the best Spanish tapa according to both Spaniards and tourists

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A survey conducted for the occasion of World Tapas Day on June 20 shows that 82.5% of Spaniards consider the tapa to be the most important symbol of Spanish gastronomy. Many foreign tourists who often visit Spain probably agree with this.

The survey shows that 76.4% of respondents prefer traditional versions over modern varieties. Furthermore, 94% of consumers vary their choice depending on the region they are in. This shows once again that tapas are a perfect showcase for the traditional flavours and cuisine of each Spanish region. The research was conducted by Saborea España and Hostelería España.

And the best tapas is?

Everyone has a favourite. But the tortilla de patata (potato omelette) has been voted the best in Spain by both Spanish consumers and foreign tourists. It also appears that 82.5% of Spaniards consider the tapa to be the most important symbol of Spanish gastronomy. In addition to the tortilla de patata, croquetas, ensaladilla (Russian salad) and patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy sauce) are also highly appreciated by the Spaniards, while foreign tourists mainly choose jamón (Serrano ham or Iberian ham) in second place, after the tortilla.

What do you drink with tapas?

The majority of Spanish respondents (71.2%) choose to accompany their tapa with a beer. The increase in the consumption of non-alcoholic beers is striking, which is now chosen by 12% of respondents. At 22%, the preference for wine is much lower (11.3% white and 10.7% red). It is striking that more foreign tourists than Spaniards choose wine with tapa, namely 40.6%, compared to 51.2% who choose beer. There has also been an increase in the number of people choosing soft drinks.

Social aspect

Eating tapas remains, above all, a social activity. The research shows that 46.2% of catering professionals believe that eating tapas has become more popular in recent years. Six in ten consumers enjoy them most in the company of friends, followed by partners and family members.

Also read: In this Spanish city you can eat the best tapas according to The Times

The weekend is the most popular time to eat tapas, especially on Saturdays during the aperitif. During the week, Thursday afternoon is the favourite time. About 62% of customers surveyed indicate that they eat tapas more than three times a month, with almost 22% even eating them six times a month. The age group from 31 to 45 years old does this most fervently (64.4%), followed by people between 46 and 60 years old (29.4%).

Economic benefits for the catering industry

The research shows that almost seven in ten catering professionals consider tapas profitable. For 40% of entrepreneurs, they represent more than 10% of their turnover. Almost 58% offer tapas with the price of a drink.

The average price of a tapa varies between €2.50 and €4.00 for 41.1% of catering professionals, while 39.7% keep the price between €1.90 and €2.50. The segment from €2.50 to €4.00 has increased by more than 12 points compared to 2022. Customers indicate that their average spend on tapas is between €10 and €20, with most consuming between three and five tapas.

Recognition of tapas

Rosario Sánchez Grau, Secretary of State for Tourism, emphasises that the tapa is an “identity symbol” closely linked to Spanish culinary culture. She emphasises the importance of tourism focused on wine and gastronomy, as these cultural events attract more and more interest from tourists and have grown in recent years.

The origin of tapas

Three theories are circulating about the origins of tapas. One of the most widespread theories is that they originated in Andalucia in the 19th century. Bar owners served small snacks with drinks to prevent customers from getting drunk too quickly. In this way they kept alcohol consumption within limits and at the same time satisfied the customers.

Another interesting theory suggests that tapas started as a way to cover glasses of wine with a piece of food, such as a slice of ham, to prevent flies and insects from falling into the drink. This custom is said to have quickly spread throughout the country and developed into a social tradition.

The third theory states that King Alfonso X, also known as ‘the Wise’, is the inventor of tapas. Due to an illness, he would have to consume small amounts of food with wine. Once better, he ordered that all drinks should be accompanied by a snack to prevent drunkenness among his subjects. This royal decree is said to have contributed to the spread of tapas throughout the country.

Culinary tradition

Over time, tapas have evolved and vary greatly by Spanish region. Yet the core remains the same: sharing small snacks in a cozy, social setting. Tapas have become an integral part of Spanish culture and are now appreciated all over the world. These small dishes embody the essence of the Spanish lifestyle, where togetherness and enjoyment of good food are central.

Also read: The best cities in Spain to enjoy free tapas when ordering a drink

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