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The stats that explain Spain's love affair with tapas

The Local Spain
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The stats that explain Spain's love affair with tapas
Photo: Despositphotos

To mark the momentous occasion of World Tapas Day, The Local explores statistics that reveal Spain’s passion for food.


While we’re sure that, like us, you won’t let your tapas consumption be limited to just one day of the year, on Thursday June 20th, annual World Tapas Day, you will have a great excuse to head to your local tapas bar an gorge on tortilla, croquettes, queso manchego or whichever miniature dish makes your mouth water the most.

To keep you going until then, here’s a run-down of the figures that outline Spain’s relationship with tapas.

Spaniards spend around €1,900 in bars and restaurants per year on average, and honestly, the temptation is understandable when you consider that there are around 260,000 bars in Spain, that’s one for every 175 people, according to stats released by Acierto insurance company to mark World Tapas Day.

More than half of Spaniards prefer tapas to other dining options  such as going to a conventional restaurant or fast food joint and 70 percent of people prefer tapas to anything else when they are on holiday.

Spanish mealtimes can be a bit of a struggle to get used to, but if you’re trying to blend in with the locals, it’s interesting to note that round 9 out of 10 people think tapas is best enjoyed in the evening or at the weekend.


Photo: Despositphotos

Although there are gourmet options for all you tapas connoisseurs out there, filling up on the mini dishes doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, almost 3 in 5 bars offer a free tapa with the purchase of drinks.

This tradition comes from the origins of the word tapas,derived from tapar (to cover). Legend has it that to stop the flies getting into their drinks, Spaniards of yore used wedges of bread, topped with various tasty morsels to cover their beer and wine glasses, hence the word tapa (lid) and the tapas tradition was born.  

Unfortunately, many bars across Spain no longer offer free tapas, but 53 percent of Spaniards think a free tapa with a drink is an important factor when choosing which bar to head to. The friendliness of the staff and the quality of the beer is also highly valued.

But here’s the big question: which tapas is the ultimate favourite?

Unsurprising, considering 46.5 percent of Spaniards say it is their favourite food, tortilla is the number one choice of tapas amongst Spaniards, followed by patatas bravas, jamón serrano, croquettes and Russian salad.

Other best-loved tapas include calamari and Manchego cheese. 7 out of 10 people enjoy an alcoholic drink with their tapas, with 26 percent opting for wine and the rest choosing other beverages.

Tortilla is Spain's all-time favourite dish. Photo: Depositphotos

Now for the eternal debate: should tortilla be cooked with or without onion? Well, according to data from Acierto, almost 60 percent of Spaniards are sure that onion has a rightful place in tortilla. 20 percent disagree, and prefer it without, but another 20 percent can appreciate it both ways.

Spaniards respect that good food isn’t confined to one area, with 3 out of 4 being happy to travel to different areas of the country in order to eat well. Spending on gastronomic tourism has increased by 17 percent in the past year, and around €12,000 million is spent on food experiences by both international and national tourists per year. The most popular destinations for food-lovers are Andalusia, Galicia, the Basque Country and Asturias.

By Alice Huseyinoglu


Quiz: How well do you know your Spanish food?



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