Even though Thai cuisine is one of the world’s best, occasionally we all jones for something a little bit different if we’re long enough in Bangkok, Thailand, and that’s where Tapas Cafe comes up. One of the most authentic Spanish tapas restaurants outside Spain, since I discovered Tapas Cafe last year, I’m now addicted to it. With its convenient location, inexpensive prices, incredible tapas and fun atmosphere, it’s really no wonder.
Where is Tapas Cafe? – Easy to get to, the main branch of Tapas Cafe is on Sukhumvit Soi 11 in the city center of Bangkok, near the Ambassador Hotel. Just take the BTS sky train to Nana station and from there it’s a couple of minutes walk.
Not surprisingly though, in the couple of years Tapas Cafe has been open, they’ve become so successful they now have another branch in the Silom area of the city, on Silom Soi 4, and it gets just as crowded. So get there early.
The Atmosphere – What I love about arriving at Tapas Cafe is the atmosphere. Similar to a hip, trendy and ultra modern tapas cafe I used to go to in the Alicante area of Spain, instead of creating a cheesy Spanish design most overseas Spanish restaurants seem to go for, Tapas Cafe has stuck with minimalist, cool,and a bit like a big warehouse.
The restaurant also has independent artwork all over the walls and fun, often upbeat Spanish or other Latino music playing – loud enough to enjoy but not so blaring you have to scream to be heard above the racket. The color scheme they’ve chosen too is perfect – it just always makes me feel relaxed, comfortable and so very European.
You’ll also find Tapas Cafe is very much a farang (westerner) hangout with few Thais seeming to have discovered it. and the ones that have are definitely the more well-traveled set.
The staff at Tapas Cafe are lovely. Friendly, smiling and efficient, food appears at your table so fast once you’ve ordered, it’s such a refreshing change from so many other Bangkok restaurants where you’ve forgotten what you ordered by the time it arrives.
The Tapas – Of course, just about everyone heads to Tapas Cafe for the food and I’ve yet to be disappointed at any of it.
There’s a large menu, with lots of choices for just about any taste and, with a specials section that changes weekly, there’s always something different to try.
Over the at least 10 times I’ve been to Tapas Cafe, I’ve eaten or tasted around 75% of what they serve and every dish has been tasty and delicious and, of course, on a par with anything I ate in Spain.
I recommend starting with the Embutidos Mixtos, which is a selection of Spanish hams and sausages. When you’re in Spain, you realize quickly how much ham and other pork products Spaniards actually consume (they’re one of the world’s top producers of ‘jamon’ or ham) and there’s a reason for it – Spanish ‘jamon’ is superb. At Tapas Cafe, the ham and sausage platter is wonderful, and a great compliment to the free French bread that keeps arriving at your table, complete with as much olive oil and balsamic vinegar you want as a dipping sauce.
Also order a bowl of the green olives, some Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes with garlic mayonnaise – yum!), a potato and onion omelette (Tortilla de Patatas), and a few ham and egg croquettes (you order per piece). A Russian salad finishes it off nicely and that is just about my favorite meal in Bangkok.
If you prefer something more ‘meal-like’ the Tapas Cafe also prepares a wonderful paella, the rice and seafood Spanish national dish, with a couple of different styles to choose from. Eat that with bread and a couple of glasses of wine and, if you closed your eyes, you’d swear you were in Barcelona.
Drinks – When you’re at any Spanish restaurant, you must drink red wine or, in my case, a mix of red wine and fruit juice (I always drink the cafe’s house sangria, which is lovely). They have an enormous selection of red wines as well as white and rose, which you can buy by the glass or by the bottle. Just be aware, some of the higher priced bottles are close to $75 a pop, which can get quite pricey if you eat your weight in tapas too, like I always seem to.
Price-wise, Tapas Cafe is quite reasonable. With most tapas between 90 and 130 baht ($3-$4.20) and a few a little lower or higher, if you share with a couple of friends, you can try four or five dishes for only $10 each. Add a glass of wine at 150 baht ($5) and, overall, for such wonderful food, good wine (or sangria) and friendly service, Tapas Cafe is a sure-fire, and inexpensive, winner.
You’ll find Tapas Cafe on Sukhumvit Soi 11 in Bangkok, Thailand