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To Go For Tapas…Ir de tapas

Where do I start….. who doesnt love tapas, a tapa is not a type of food, it’s a way of eating it, those bite size portions of food ranging from the most simple piece of manchego cheese on a piece of crusty bread served with peppery olive oil, to the most flamboyant of Spain’s many traditional dishes.

In Spain, dinner is usually served between 9 and 11 p.m. (sometimes as late as midnight), leaving significant time between work and dinner. Therefore, Spaniards often go “bar hopping” (Spanish: Ir de tapas) and eat tapas in the time between finishing work and having dinner. Since lunch is usually served between 1 and 4 p.m., another common time for tapas is weekend days around noon as a means of socializing before proper lunch at home.

It is very common for a bar or a small local restaurant to have eight to 12 different kinds of tapas in warming trays with glass partitions covering the food. They are often very strongly flavored with garlic, chilies or paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, saffron and sometimes in plentiful amounts of olive oil. Often, one or more of the choices is seafood (mariscos), often including anchovies, sardines or mackerel in olive oil, squid or others in a tomato-based sauce, sometimes with the addition of red or green peppers or other seasonings. It is rare to see a tapas selection not include one or more types of olives, such as Manzanilla or Arbequina olives. One or more types of bread are usually available to eat with any of the sauce-based tapas.

Every tourist who comes to Spain wants to try tapas, one of the most famous of Spain’s traditions, but many don’t understand the culture around this style of dining. To “go for tapas” (tapear in Spanish) does not mean ordering a lot of dishes in one restaurant (though, of course, you can), but to bar-hop, eating a different tapa in each bar.

Two of the most sought out bars in Malaga are:

Cerveceria Los Gatos,

 Located right in the heart of Malaga’s historic centre on Plaza Uncibay.

Consistently voted as being one of Malaga’s best. The service in particular, is often singled out for praise. Quick and friendly, a bit of novelty for many places in Malaga. You also get a free tapa with every drink.

 El Tapeo de Cervantes is located next to the Teatro de Cervantes. One of Málaga’s most popular tapas bars is also one of its smallest. With space for just 28 people. Reserve beforehand, arrive early or be prepared to wait. The wait is most definitely worth it, the food is excellent.

Run by an Argentinian who speaks several languages, El Tapeo de Cervantes is a popular haunt with tourists and expats.

They recently opened a sister restaurant, just around the corner and one that offers more space. They both have pretty much the same menu and wine list.If El Tapeo is heaving, just walk around the corner and check out El Meson de Cervantes.

History

Though the primary meaning of tapa is cover or lid, it has in Spain also become a term for this style of food, there are many stories, no one really knows the true one but one popular  explanation is that an item, be it bread or a flat card, etc., would often be placed on top of a drink to protect it from fruit flies; at some point it became a habit to top this “cover” with a snack.
It is also commonly said that since one would be standing while eating a tapa in traditional Spanish bars, they would need to place their plates on top of their drinks to eat, making it a top.