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Grab some tapas in Oslo. Photo: Shutterstock
Grab some tapas in Oslo. Photo: Shutterstock

Spanish delicacies in Oslo

Fancy enjoying yourself Spanish-style in Oslo? Or reliving the memories of your vacation in Barcelona or Malaga? But how do you really eat tapas like a Spaniard? Here, travel writer Vibeke Montero gives us an introduction to the etiquette of the tapas table.

Spanish tapas has long been a national dish in Norway. And in many other countries too. Who doesn’t enjoy a well-prepared mouthful of tasty food centered on delicious flavors? Most people know that the word tapas most likely comes from the verb tapar, which means ‘to cover’. It’s thought that a piece of bread was used to cover a glass of wine or sherry to protect the drink from flies. It also seems quite barbaric to many of those who live around the Mediterranean to have a drink without eating something and so tapas was invented to line your stomach if you fancy a drink before lunch or dinner.  Most Mediterranean countries have a similar custom. The Italians, for example, have their aperitivos, while in North African countries they serve meze. 

Journalist Vibeke Montero shows the difference between a ración plate and a tapas plateWhen we eat tapas in Norway, though, we make a few little mistakes that can impair the experience. Travel writer Vibeke Montero, who lives in Spain, tells us where we’re going wrong.

“First of all, we order everything at the same time,” Montero tells Scandinavian Traveler. “If you do that, the food gets cold. Also, the meal’s over all at once. In Spain, they order a little at a time. And they move in groups from bar to bar.”

There’s also a difference in the size.

“A tapa is a small mouthful of food, served on a little plate at the bar. A ración is a larger tapas served at the table. It’s meant to be shared. In Norway, though, they mostly serve raciónes.”

It’s more common to share in Spain, but that’s not something we do so much in Norway.

“We’re obsessed with splitting the bill and only paying for our share. That’s not common practice in Spain. Here everyone pays for a round at the bar if you go on a tapeo. If you sit around a table together and eat raciónes, it’s common to divide the bill by the number of people who’ve eaten.” 

We’ve Norwegified tapas in other ways too.

“We only order for ourselves.  We’re used to ordering a dish just for ourselves and it’s too well ingrained in many Norwegians to get away from this habit. In Spain, though, they put their dishes in the middle of the table and take what they want from there. Everyone shares.”

It may well be a nice idea to adopt this tradition as we tuck into some of those lovely Spanish hams, grilled peppers and other delicacies. 

 

The best tapas restaurants in Oslo

Kroketter på Delicatessen i Oslo.

Delicatessen

Popular restaurant with lots of tasty food on the menu: cheeses, hams, sausages and even our domestic interloper, the king crab. Oslo folk seem to love them, as there are now three branches of Delicatessen to visit. You'll find Delicatessen at Aker brygge, Majorstuen and Grünerløkka.

Delicatessen

Søndre gate 8, 0550 Oslo

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Barcia Bistro Bar By San Leandro

The owner of the new San Leandro is from a food-loving corner of northern Spain. For him, the most important things are hospitality, warmth and good food. There used to be several branches of San Leandro in Oslo, but now there's just this one again. They serve home-made Spanish classics such as meatballs, croquettes and hams, accompanied by a fine selection of Spanish wines. Plenty to share and enjoy.

Barcia Bistro Bar By San Leandro

Munkedamsveien 100, 0270 Oslo

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Pintxo the Basque way at Txotx in Oslo.

Txotx

Pintxos are the Basque version of tapas: perhaps a little more elaborate and served on a skewer. You can have anchovies, quail's egg and jalapeños or a piece of bread with some delicious seafood. At Basque bars, you serve yourself from the counter and at the end of the meal, the waiter works out the bill by counting the number of skewers. They're often served with sparkling txakoli wine. Oslo naturally has its own version, Txotx, with oysters, hams and, yes, even txakoli and several other Basque wines by the glass (and by the bottle of course).

Txotx

Trondheimsveien 2, 0560 Oslo

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Champagneria

This champagne bar first opened at Solli plass, but there's now also one at Vulkan. They have both French champagne and Spanish cava by the glass (and of course by the bottle), as well as tapas. On Fridays it's packed full of people ready for the weekend and looking for some bubbles and gossip. On the menu, you'll find cheeses, hams, olives and other delights.

Champagneria

Frognerveien 2, 0257 Oslo

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Bon lio

This restaurant is located in an old wooden building, which used to be home to a Spanish restaurant serving up old favorites such as paella. Bon Lio opened here a few years ago. It's perhaps not really a tapas bar, but more of a restaurant serving ten-course meals. Here you'll find octopus, pork cheek, rabbit, Spanish cheeses and wines, as well as some Norwegian additions, such as skrei cod. All prepared in a way that has the pickiest of restaurant reviewers singing the restaurant's praises afterwards in their columns.

Bon Lio

Fredensborgveien 42, 0177 Oslo

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Escalon

This restaurant at fashionable Tjuvholmen, right by Aker brygge, serves everything from pimientos de padron to Iberian hams and oysters at quite reasonable prices.

Escalon

Bryggegangen 8, 0252 Oslo

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Barramon

Mathallen in Oslo is home to a little pintxo bar not unlike the bars you'll find at Spanish food markets. You can relax here with some well-prepared snacks on a skewer and a glass of beer or wine. You can also buy some food to take home with you from their shop if you like.

Barramon

Vulkan 5, 0178 Oslo

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Text: Inga Ragnhild Holst

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