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Find the best Spanish hotspots across the Chicago area.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The Essential Spanish Restaurants in Chicago

Where to find terrific tapas, pinxtos, sangria, and much more

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Find the best Spanish hotspots across the Chicago area.
| Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Between flamenco, sangria, and late-night dinners, there’s a lot to love about Spanish dining. And then, of course, there are the tapas — the small plates that are easy to share, brimming with bold flavor to please all kinds of diners.

Thankfully, Chicago is home to a slew of spots specializing in just that, with styles ranging from the traditional to the modern day. From a casual neighborhood retreat in Andersonville to a Michelin-starred seafood palace in West Town, here are Eater Chicago’s picks for the city’s best Spanish restaurants.

As of June 11, Chicago restaurants have fully reopened and the city has lifted restrictions on capacity and social distancing. However, on July 30, the city issued guidance recommending that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following safety guidelines. The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is available here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Little Madrid Tapas-Café

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Andersonville diners can be difficult to win over, but first-time restaurant owner (and native Spaniard) Francisco Bolanos has steadily accumulated a following in the area. Cozy and casual, this storefront spot puts out hits like patatas bravas, huevos rotos (manchego, jamón serrano or Spanish chorizo), and marisco paella (mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, green peas).

Bulerias Tapas Bar

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Longtime local favorite Bulerias, named for a fast flamenco rhythm, remains a destination for Spanish dishes like chuletitas de cordero, pulpo a la plancha, and paella negra. It all pairs perfectly with a pitcher of sangria or bottle of cava.

mfk. restaurant

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Inspired by the coastal regions of the Catalonian and Basque countries of Spain, this tiny subterranean restaurant focuses on simply-prepared food, easy-drinking beverages, and a relaxed, intimate ambiance that draws neighborhood denizens and visitors alike. Don’t miss favorites like suzuki crudo (guacamole, squid ink tostada, honey-citrus sambal), Clams ‘n Ham (Manila clams, smoked pork, pastis, tomato, ciabatta), and the Trinidad Sour cocktail (angostura, rye, lemon). The restaurant is currently closed but hopes to reopen in mid-August.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!

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This lively Lincoln Park restaurant has been drawing groups for more than 35 years for a variety of Spanish plates. Kick things off with a sampling of the pintxos (namely the chorizo-wrapped dates and bacalao croquettes), and try the paella — the mariscos version packs in a medley of saffron-laced seafood, including shrimp, squid, and mussels. If there’s a wait, head to the bar for some sangria — staff serves six kinds here.

Mama Delia

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Mama Delia is one of two restaurants on this list from Bonhomme Hospitality (the other being Porto). In 2020, the company remodeled this space, which was formerly known as Black Bull, and added a gourmet market and larger outdoor patio to help adapt to the pandemic. They’ve upped the sherry selection and added more conservas mixed in with seasonal plates like a lobster gazpacho and a chorizo and oyster shooter with truffle egg yolk. 

A round white plate with a grilled octopus tentacle
Pulpo canario at Mama Delia
Barry Brechceisen/Eater Chicago

One of the most exciting openings in recent memory, Porto is a beautiful space, a former bank, taken over by the owners of neighboring Beatnik. Porto captures much of the energy of its older sibling, but channels it by focusing on Spanish seafood. Grab a seat at the chef’s counter and watch staff create magic with conservas (tinned seafood) and smell the smoke from imported fish prepared on a wood-burning oven in the back. This restaurant earned a Michelin star in 2021 and provides locals with a unique experience that’s not to be missed.

The granite bar with boxes of fish above it.
Porto specializes in seafood from Spain and Galacia.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Tapas aren’t new to Chicago, but José Andrés is, and he’s brought his flagship restaurant to River North. Jaleo Chicago has all the classics his locations in D.C. and Vegas have excelled at with a few wrinkles for the local set (table side paella is exclusive to Chicago). The celebrity chef and humanitarian will unveil a basement bar later in 2021, but Jaleo positions itself as a strong happy hour destination. Grab a gin and tonic and play a few rounds of foosball for a fun night.

A red and white dining room
Jaleo made its debut in July.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Boqueria

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This lavish New York import swept into Fulton Market with much fanfare and quickly became known as a loud, lively spot for groups to dine on Spanish classics like gambas al ajillo and albondigas while drinking lots of sangria.

A side view of a bar and the space between a large rectangular wooden table and seats.
Boqueria’s Chicago outpost opened in 2019.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Mercat a la Planxa

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This Michigan Avenue fixture, known for a focus Catalan culture and cuisine, has long drawn local diners for favorites like the arroz de carnes (chorizo, iberico secreto, chicken, Catalan sausage) and bacon-wrapped dates (stuffed with Marcona almonds and topped with bleu cheese fondue). Try the restaurant’s grilled items, which range to include hearty portions of ribeye, hanger steak, and rack of lamb.

Emilio's Tapas Restaurant

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Chef Emilio Gervilla cut his teeth working at tapas bars and restaurants throughout Spain before opening up his namesake suburban restaurant in 1988. Ever since, he’s been serving diners a range of small plates with big flavor, including paella Valencia, patatas con aioli, and paprika-seasoned octopus. The downtown location shuttered in early 2018, but check out the calendar on the regular for events like cooking classes, wine dinners, and family paella nights in the suburbs.

Tapas Valencia

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Colorful mosaic artwork and around-the-clock crowds outfit this South Loop space, where staff serve a menu of tried-and-true Spanish tapas like grilled artichoke hearts, spicy potatoes with Manchego cheese, and grilled beef tenderloin skewers. Best to book on a Saturday, when the restaurant hosts live music and Flamenco dancing. 

Mesón Sabika

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The ambiance rivals the dishes at this suburban restaurant — a sister spot to Tapas Valencia — housed inside a 1847 mansion on a four-acre estate. In an environment like that, it’s easy to feel transported — and the food only helps, thanks to authentic flavors found in plates like ham croquetas, grilled chorizo sausages, and grilled chicken skewers. 

Little Madrid Tapas-Café

Andersonville diners can be difficult to win over, but first-time restaurant owner (and native Spaniard) Francisco Bolanos has steadily accumulated a following in the area. Cozy and casual, this storefront spot puts out hits like patatas bravas, huevos rotos (manchego, jamón serrano or Spanish chorizo), and marisco paella (mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, green peas).

Bulerias Tapas Bar

Longtime local favorite Bulerias, named for a fast flamenco rhythm, remains a destination for Spanish dishes like chuletitas de cordero, pulpo a la plancha, and paella negra. It all pairs perfectly with a pitcher of sangria or bottle of cava.

mfk. restaurant

Inspired by the coastal regions of the Catalonian and Basque countries of Spain, this tiny subterranean restaurant focuses on simply-prepared food, easy-drinking beverages, and a relaxed, intimate ambiance that draws neighborhood denizens and visitors alike. Don’t miss favorites like suzuki crudo (guacamole, squid ink tostada, honey-citrus sambal), Clams ‘n Ham (Manila clams, smoked pork, pastis, tomato, ciabatta), and the Trinidad Sour cocktail (angostura, rye, lemon). The restaurant is currently closed but hopes to reopen in mid-August.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!

This lively Lincoln Park restaurant has been drawing groups for more than 35 years for a variety of Spanish plates. Kick things off with a sampling of the pintxos (namely the chorizo-wrapped dates and bacalao croquettes), and try the paella — the mariscos version packs in a medley of saffron-laced seafood, including shrimp, squid, and mussels. If there’s a wait, head to the bar for some sangria — staff serves six kinds here.

Mama Delia

A round white plate with a grilled octopus tentacle
Pulpo canario at Mama Delia
Barry Brechceisen/Eater Chicago

Mama Delia is one of two restaurants on this list from Bonhomme Hospitality (the other being Porto). In 2020, the company remodeled this space, which was formerly known as Black Bull, and added a gourmet market and larger outdoor patio to help adapt to the pandemic. They’ve upped the sherry selection and added more conservas mixed in with seasonal plates like a lobster gazpacho and a chorizo and oyster shooter with truffle egg yolk. 

A round white plate with a grilled octopus tentacle
Pulpo canario at Mama Delia
Barry Brechceisen/Eater Chicago

Porto

The granite bar with boxes of fish above it.
Porto specializes in seafood from Spain and Galacia.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

One of the most exciting openings in recent memory, Porto is a beautiful space, a former bank, taken over by the owners of neighboring Beatnik. Porto captures much of the energy of its older sibling, but channels it by focusing on Spanish seafood. Grab a seat at the chef’s counter and watch staff create magic with conservas (tinned seafood) and smell the smoke from imported fish prepared on a wood-burning oven in the back. This restaurant earned a Michelin star in 2021 and provides locals with a unique experience that’s not to be missed.

The granite bar with boxes of fish above it.
Porto specializes in seafood from Spain and Galacia.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Jaleo

A red and white dining room
Jaleo made its debut in July.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Tapas aren’t new to Chicago, but José Andrés is, and he’s brought his flagship restaurant to River North. Jaleo Chicago has all the classics his locations in D.C. and Vegas have excelled at with a few wrinkles for the local set (table side paella is exclusive to Chicago). The celebrity chef and humanitarian will unveil a basement bar later in 2021, but Jaleo positions itself as a strong happy hour destination. Grab a gin and tonic and play a few rounds of foosball for a fun night.

A red and white dining room
Jaleo made its debut in July.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Boqueria

A side view of a bar and the space between a large rectangular wooden table and seats.
Boqueria’s Chicago outpost opened in 2019.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This lavish New York import swept into Fulton Market with much fanfare and quickly became known as a loud, lively spot for groups to dine on Spanish classics like gambas al ajillo and albondigas while drinking lots of sangria.

A side view of a bar and the space between a large rectangular wooden table and seats.
Boqueria’s Chicago outpost opened in 2019.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Mercat a la Planxa

This Michigan Avenue fixture, known for a focus Catalan culture and cuisine, has long drawn local diners for favorites like the arroz de carnes (chorizo, iberico secreto, chicken, Catalan sausage) and bacon-wrapped dates (stuffed with Marcona almonds and topped with bleu cheese fondue). Try the restaurant’s grilled items, which range to include hearty portions of ribeye, hanger steak, and rack of lamb.

Emilio's Tapas Restaurant

Chef Emilio Gervilla cut his teeth working at tapas bars and restaurants throughout Spain before opening up his namesake suburban restaurant in 1988. Ever since, he’s been serving diners a range of small plates with big flavor, including paella Valencia, patatas con aioli, and paprika-seasoned octopus. The downtown location shuttered in early 2018, but check out the calendar on the regular for events like cooking classes, wine dinners, and family paella nights in the suburbs.

Tapas Valencia

Colorful mosaic artwork and around-the-clock crowds outfit this South Loop space, where staff serve a menu of tried-and-true Spanish tapas like grilled artichoke hearts, spicy potatoes with Manchego cheese, and grilled beef tenderloin skewers. Best to book on a Saturday, when the restaurant hosts live music and Flamenco dancing. 

Mesón Sabika

The ambiance rivals the dishes at this suburban restaurant — a sister spot to Tapas Valencia — housed inside a 1847 mansion on a four-acre estate. In an environment like that, it’s easy to feel transported — and the food only helps, thanks to authentic flavors found in plates like ham croquetas, grilled chorizo sausages, and grilled chicken skewers. 

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