Now, I’ve never been to Spain, but I have been to Como Taperia. This Spanish tapas bar opened on Main Street at East 7th in 2018. Como Taperia is inspired by time spent eating well in Spain by owners Shaun Layton and Frankie Harrington. They’ve carefully sourced their food and beverages, importing tapas directly from Barcelona, as well as serving Spanish beer and Spanish vermút and sherry on tap. Como is a bright space with tall windows and a clever split level design that creates, with the help of large pillars, a sense of privacy. The restaurant has a range of seating available from stools at the open kitchen, to tables, to patio seating, and standing room at their tapas bar.
Free Bar Snacks
Como’s tapas bar is inspired by the standing room-only tapas bars in Barcelona or Madrid. During Happy Hour which runs from 4-5 pm daily, you can enjoy the elegant tradition of free tapas as long as you’re drinking. It feels pretty special to get something for nothing and Como is offering something pretty delicious. Don’t worry if you can’t get a spot standing at the bar because Happy Hour deals extend to the rest of the restaurant as well. All bottled wine is 40% off and there are other drink specials too. Plus all food is 25% off, except for the items from the Raciones section of the menu.
In the Know at Como
It is impressive how well informed the staff at Como are about the Spanish traditions behind the food and beverages they offer. Yes, the standing bar is where you want to be if you want free tapas but other benefits include admiring the tapas case up close, seeing drinks being made, and maybe even getting a mini lesson on sherry or vermut.
During my visit for Happy Hour, I was greeted first with a slice of shishito pepper tortilla. Then, with a glass of El Bandarra Vermut. This on tap vermut is from Barcelona and comes on ice with an olive. The tortilla is one of my favourite dishes by Como. Don’t think of a Mexican tortilla. This is like a more wet potato dauphinoise meets a frittata. The shishito gives it just a little spice.
As I mentioned, a major feature of the bar is the tapas case which displays rolling mountains of verdant olives. I got to try some marinated ones as well as savoury anchovy stuffed ones. The olives and vermut pair so well together that I found myself constantly bouncing back and forth between the two.
I also tried the Tio Pepe sherry. Como Taperia sells more Tio Pepe sherry than anyone else in the country. When Shaun told me this I said that either means Como is serving a lot of this sherry or that the rest of Canada is not drinking enough. I think it’s both, and take it from me, Canada, this sherry is a must try. Tio Pepe is like a very dry white wine but it fortifies as it is ages under a “flor” or blanket of yeast, raising the alcohol content.
Old and New Taperia Favourites
The croquette with Jamón is an old favourite of mine. There’s nothing wrong with this freshly fried, crisp on the outside, ooey gooey on the inside snack. That is, except for the likelihood that you will burn the roof of your mouth. The patatas bravas is a staple dish that is great for sharing. Another favourite I was excited to have again is the truffle manchego cheese with quince jelly.
The fried eggplant is a new favourite of mine. A dish from the south of Spain, it is crispy, sweet, salty, and fragrant from the rosemary. The thin slices and the saltiness reminded me of potato chips. Shaun said they reminded him of mini donuts. It’s the cinnamon that brings that donut vibe. I shared some with my bar-neighbours, neither of whom were eggplant fans (and they are not alone). This eggplant won them over.
So Much Tasty Tapas
If you stick around after Happy Hour ends, I’d recommend the garlic shrimp or the clams served with Jamon XO and white beans. Be sure to order a side of olive oil drizzled bread because you’ll need it to sop up the delicious sauce.
Not only was Como Taperia named second-best new restaurant in the country in 2019 by enRoute magazine, it also recently had the distinction of being Michelin recommended.
Como is open every day from 4 – 11 pm at 201 E 7th Ave.