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10 things you need to know about…tapas bars in Canada.

Spanish flavours are causing a stir in trendy bars and restaurants across the country.

04 February 2015
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Suggested tweet: Spanish-style tapas are hot new items on menus in Canadian bars + restaurants http://ow.ly/HgAQk #explorecanada

Canada’s food scene is eclectic, an international hot pot of flavours from around the world. Now, top chefs are enamoured of all things Spanish, causing trendy tapas bars to pop up from coast to coast.

1) Perro Negro (Victoria, BC): Climb the stairs to the popular Ferris’ Oyster Bar and Grill new tapas spot. The west coast meets Spain in small bites such as Dungeness crab, corn and roasted pepper pintxo or smoky albacore tuna with preserved lemons, olives and almonds.

2) Espana (Vancouver, BC): Chef Neil Taylor channels the tapas bars of San Sebastian with bar snacks—including BC mussels cooked in cider, white anchovies on toast and fried chickpeas spiced with smoky paprika—alongside Spanish sherry and cava.

3) Sardine Can (Vancouver, BC): Duck into this tiny tapas bar in Gastown for a glass of wine and a small snack, Spanish style. Sardines—check. Sherry—check. Soccer on the TVs—check.

4) Ox & Angela (Calgary, AB): Slide into a dark booth in Kelly Black and Jayme MacFayden’s masculine bar (Ox) to sip sangria or pick the bright dining area (Angela) for pans of paella and crispy patatas bravas with house-made smoked paprika ketchup.

5) Segovia Tapas Bar (Winnipeg, MB): On a summer night, cava on the patio is a treat, as is Chef Adam Donnelly’s inspired tapas menu that melds local and Spanish ingredients in dishes from roasted quail on piquillo pepper confit to ricotta gnudi with porcini and Garrotxa cheese.

6) Bar Isabel (Toronto, ON): Chef Grant van Gameren has replicated a Spanish tavern experience with simple authentic food. His next project, Bar Raval, will recall a seedy bit of Barcelona, but perfect pinchos are anticipated, too.

7) Barsa Taberna (Toronto, ON): Head to this modern tapas spot near the St. Lawrence Market for happy hour and pay for Chef Michael Smith’s market-fresh pinchos the Spanish way—according to the toothpicks left on your plate.

8) Patria (Toronto, ON): Authentic Spanish tapas is the mandate of this upscale eatery, with fresh fish, octopus and shellfish arriving daily, and an extensive list of fine Spanish wines to pair with authentic black-hoof Iberico ham or 18-month-old Manchego cheese.

9) Navarra (Ottawa, ON): Top Chef Canada 2014 winner Rene Rodriguez creates Basque cuisine at his restaurant in the Byward Market district, from exotic sea urchin with avocado emulsion to zucchini and Serrano ham frittatas for Sunday brunch.

10) Pintxo (Montréal, QC): Chef Alonso Ortiz’ pinchos offer an explosion of flavour in a single bite, via Basque-style tastes such as octopus carpaccio with cava vinegar and scallops with chorizo tapenade.

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