Spanish cuisine will probably never become as integral to Sydney as Thai and Italian food – there’s simply not enough Spaniards emigrating here.

For the same reason, many Spanish restaurants in Sydney take a loose approach to the cuisine, combining techniques and ingredients from all around the Iberian peninsula and often from beyond it, too.

As long as the results are delicious, we're not fussed. Our list includes a number of restaurants dedicated to serving the classics faithfully, and many others which only use Spanish ingredients as a creative springboard.

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Una Mas

Eat octopus cooked on the plancha, buffalo mozzarella on lemon leaves, and cured meats paired with vermouth cocktails at this seaside eatery open until 3am.

169 Dolphin Street, Coogee

Mercado

This plush, heritage-listed basement butchers its own meat for charcuterie. That says plenty about the kitchen's dedication to quality, but you should also know there are a rotisserie and wood-fired oven on site, cooking whole spit-roasted lambs and incredible Wagyu.

4 Ash Street, Sydney

Bar Topa

This tiny 19-seat tapas bar from Merivale is mostly faithful to what you'd find in San Sebastian. Cocktails such as Negronis can be ordered by the half-pour, and there's a range of hot and cold snacks such as morcilla (blood sausage) with white beans; and seared cuttlefish with lemon, chilli and garlic. Topa is a great start to any night.

4 Palings Lane, Sydney

Can Cava Pintxos & Wine

NSW food regulations prevent this bar from serving pintxos exactly the way they do in Basque country. You still choose your toothpick-spiked snacks from a display and pay by counting how many sticks you've accumulated, but the pintxos must be made to order. Which isn't the worst thing in the world, actually. On a given day you could choose from tuna tartare; tempura prawn with smoked paprika togarashi; or chickpea fritter with spicy tomato sauce.

101 Hall Street, Bondi

Alegrias Spanish Tapas

Albondigas. Patatas bravas. Churros. If you're looking for a reliable, familiar take on Spanish cuisine, this laneway diner is a good contender for your dollar. Case in point: the kitchen offers seven renditions of paella, including the classic Valencian with rabbit, chicken, white beans and snails.

9 332 Darling Street, Balmain

Bodega x Wyno

The team here freely makes use of ingredients from around the world. Spanish? Only just. Delicious? Entirely. Porteño's sister restaurant makes a compelling argument for foregoing tradition.

50 Holt Street, Surry Hills

Bodega 1904

A glossy green roof and sprawling silver countertop transports diners to a 1900s-style train-station diner.

1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge

Tapavino

This lively bar is one of the best places in Sydney to drink sherry – there are more than 80 in stock. Between sips, there's a huge range of tapas, charcuterie and substantial mains such as braised beef cheek.

6-8 Bulletin Place, Sydney

Balcon by Tapavino

And this, Tapavino's sister restaurant, is undoubtedly the best place in town to explore Spanish wine. The cellar list runs into the thousands, much of it on display in floor-to-ceiling cages. It's a memorable backdrop for enjoying the restaurant's similarly sprawling food menu.

17 Bligh Street, Sydney

Bar Tapa

Spaniard Manuel Terron always found Australian Spanish restaurants too far from the real thing – hence opening Bar Tapa in 2018. The menu mixes Terron family recipes and Spanish classics. Valencian-style paella and patatas bravas are inspired by Terron’s travels in Spain.

78 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst

Despana

Much like Alegrias, this is an excellent place to get your fix of staples such as manchengo and chorizo croquettes; patatas bravas and paella. Bonus: if you like it enough, the team will send its food truck out to cater your next party.

101 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

Ash St. Cellar

The menu here mixes flavours from across the Mediterranean, but maintains a refined edge.

1 Ash Street, Sydney