Spanish cuisine is an all-time favourite: tapas never get boring. These modest, tasty dishes are ideal for shared dining – and lunching. So many people, so many flavours, so many tapas. From classic to modern and everything in between – a day without tapas is a day not lived.
Words: Dijlan van Vlimmeren
Walk into Destino and you know you have reached your destination. Destino serves next level tapas. After nine years, ownership has recently changed hands as Niels Koomans and Nelleke Elbert handed over the Spanish baton from Niels Koomans. He has hardly touched the concept, however, whereas lunch was previously not on the menu at Destino, Reimbert has extended the opening hours. So now you can come here during lunchtime too to enjoy the smoked mackerel with guindilla (pimiento rojo), tomato/olive salsa and pine nuts or the stewed octopus (pulpo) with black rice (prepared with sepia or squid ink) and a pimenton mayonnaise. The delicate, entirely organic Soler Romero olive oil is of exceptional quality.
The indoor Markthal is a must-see for every visitor coming to Rotterdam. Basq Kitchen has been housed in the 39 metre high attraction, designed by the architecture practice MVRDV, since day one. Basq Kitchen, run by Kevin Chow and Dennis Martherus, is frequented by Spaniards living in Rotterdam, which says a lot. A popular choice is the tabla mix tapas, an elongated wooden box with pan con tomate, patatas bravas, calamares (fried squid with aioli), green olives and manchego (aged 5 and 8 months) with a pear compote jelly. Also recommended is the txuleta de ternera, super tender veal (côte de boeuf) from Rubia Gallega calves cooked on a hot stone.
Grote Markt 188 (unit 117)
De Hemel op Aarde
For sixteen years, this restaurant has been known as a little slice of Spanish heaven. The confessional has made way for a dartboard, but everything else still breathes the atmosphere of a Catholic church. You enter through the kitchen, making you feel right at home. And whatever you order, every dish is a bull’s eye – from the deep-fried jalapeños stuffed with cheddar, green beans in tempura with a honey and mustard dip, scallops served with parsnip and saffron butter, to the heavenly custard pie with dulce de leche ice cream.
Oostzeedijk beneden 205a
A hip and happening joint in the city is Lola, where chorizo croquettes are served as finger food. It’s the place to be for fried aubergine with miel de caña and churros with a chocolate dip. Euskadi specialises in Basque dishes: the beetroot tartar is an absolute must. And if you’re a really big eater, at Lust and at Guay you can eat tapas to your heart’s content for less than 30 euros per person.
Lola Bar & Kitchen
Schiedamse Vest 57