The round-up: pay a visit to Brisbane’s best Spanish eateries
Those who have ventured across Spain can vouch for its stunning landscapes, gorgeous weather, architecturally magnificent cities, vibrant culture and friendly populace, but perhaps one aspect they’ll wax lyrical about is the food. From tasty tapas to seafood-loaded paella, Spanish cuisine is varied, rich in history and flavour, and is well worth seeking out if you’re in the mood for a feast that can feed a crowd. Keen to try? We’ve compiled a list of Brisbane’s best Spanish eateries to try this weekend …
Moda Tapas Brasa Bar, Petrie Terrace: Moda has been a culinary institution for decades, with chef Javier Codina helping pioneer Iberian-influenced cuisine in Brisbane from Moda’s first location on Edward Street, a passion that continues at Moda’s new headquarters at The Barracks in Petrie Terrace. At Moda, Javier mixes influences from France, Italy, and his native Barcelona, creating mouth-watering tapas like beef-cheek empanadas, sardine montadito, paellita filled with Queensland seafood and Galician chorizo with Espellette peppers. Also worth investigating are the steaks cooked using the charcoal-fuelled MIBRASA oven – all served with Mediterranean vegetables and rioja sauce.
Pata Negra, Bardon: Hailed as a little slice of Spain in Brisbane, this pint-sized tapas bar looks to transport guests (and their tastebuds) to the streets of Seville, Madrid and Barcelona with a host of authentic Spanish flavours. Fill your table with plates of crispy berenjenas (eggplant fingers), succulent albondigas (meatballs), gambas al pil pil (spicy garlic prawns) chipirones (sauteed baby squid), or go all in on a bowl of traditional family-style paella – just don’t forget to get a round of Spanish craft beers or a bottle of wine for sipping on the side.
Rico Bar & Dining, Brisbane City: Taking a Latin-inspired approach to dining is Rico, the uber-stylish riverside eatery from the Massimo, Opa and Fatcow team. Here the menu showcases a mind-boggling array of tapas (patatas bravas, Spanish-style omelettes with guindillas and flash-fried calamari, for example), as well as kilos of black mussels, chargrilled pork cutlets and paella loaded with marron and piquillo peppers.
Vaquero, Albion: The menu at this seductive Albion restaurant has origins deeply rooted in Spanish cuisine, with locally sourced ingredients transformed by fiery flavours and scintillating cooking techniques. Take Vaquero’s tapas selection, for example, where Josper-grilled chicken skewers, beef tartare with egg yolk and papas fritas, and spiced zucchini and manchego tostadas enliven tastebuds ahead of the main affair. Plates of atun a la plancha (grilled salmon steaks), wood-fired pork chops and coal-roasted lamb shanks are similarly transportive dishes, which will have you believing you’ve been magicked away overseas.
Alba Bar + Deli, Brisbane City: Sherry, Spanish pintxos and hip-hop – can you name a better combination? This trio is what you’ll get at Burnett Lane’s Alba Bar + Deli, plus more. Inspired by the kind of low-key watering holes you’d find wandering the back streets of San Sebastián, Alba’s ultra-slick fit-out is matched ably by the offering. We suggest ordering a selection of plates, like fried bacalao with piquillo mayo, arroz negra (squid-ink risotto with charred cuttlefish), Mooloolaba scallops with jamon xo, or a selection of conservas before browsing the drinks list. Sherry is a big focus, but there are also Spanish wines aplenty for thirsty patrons looking for the full experience.
Botellón, Graceville: Locals of leafy Graceville are lucky to have Spanish-inspired tapas and wine bar Botellón in their suburb. In the early evening, it’s not uncommon to see the venue’s street-side tables full with folks grazing on chorizo a la sidra with pickled eschallots, pan-seared scallops with corn-and-tomato salsa, whole-baked gold band snapper marinated in ancho chilli and mixed seafood paella. You’re also likely to see glasses filled with an assortment of Spanish vino, from white grenache and rioja to tempranillo and mencía.
Olé Restaurant, South Bank: This long-standing eatery has built its reputation on its ability to channel the vibrant energy intrinsic to Spanish cuisine and the act of eating. Here, dining is best enjoyed as a communal affair, with an assortment of finger-licking tapas like aceitunas fritas (deep-fried crumbed olives), boquerones (pickled white anchovies), cabra (baked goats cheese) and crispy pork belly joining the likes of jamon platters, raciones grandes (share plates) and large serves of paella creating feasts fit for friends and family.
Black Fire Restaurant, Brisbane City: Capri by Fraser’s ground-level restaurant space specialises in rustic roasts and sumptuous grilled feasts with a foundational influence of Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine. Bites such as grilled chorizo bruschetta, seared local scallops with Parma crudite, prosciutto and manchego croquetas and duck breast pan tossed in calvados are just some of the heavenly morsels on offer for lunch and dinner.
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