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Throwing a tapas party: what's your favorite tapas?

Hi everyone!

I'm throwing a tapas party in a few weeks for a friend's bridal shower and would LOVE some suggestions for creative, yummy tapas. What are your favorites? Aside from sangria, do you have any drink suggestions? Any ideas for unique serving/presentation?

I want the food to be delicious, creative, and a little surprising for my guests. Any and all suggestions are appreciated! Thanks in advance.


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  1. I love tapas and they are perfect for a party. I'm going to post again when I have more time but the first two that come to mind are:

    1) olive stuffed in a date wrapped in bacon. They are really good and very surprising. The acid from the olive with the sweetness of the date and the fatty/salty bacon. One of those better than the sum of its parts type of things.

    2) Marinated tomato filets (I recommend this one all the time but I don't think people do it - they should). Get some great roma tomatoes, blanch in boiling wanter and peel. Cut off the "meat" from stem to blossom end creating long filets of tomato. Salt and pepper the filets in a bowl and cover with olive oil (I add garlic slices as well) and let marinate out of the fridge for 4-6 hours. They are wonderful. Serve with slices of crusty bread.

    3) Duck rillette - I just did this for a big birthday party last week. It takes a lot of time but it is wonderful. If you wanted to be a little less "adventurous" you could always do pork rillette instead of duck (the ingredients might be easier to find too). But you can do it several days ahead of time and it is a great addition to a cheese/charcuterie board - and easy to make a fairly large quantity for a party.


    Mojitos are always fun in the heat and not too hard to make in large quantity and put in some sort of glass dispenser.

    For this last party we did Dark and Stormy cocktails. Ginger beer (I made my own) and dark rum. Another great summer cocktail. I think this is a great food cocktail too because the strong ginger kind of keeps the pallet fresh (in my opinion).

    More later . . . .

    7 Replies
    1. re: thimes

      I'd amend #1 to do a piece of manchego cheese stuffed in a date wrapped in bacon.

      1. re: Dcfoodblog

        I'll amend #1.5. Stuff the date with a piece of cured Spanish chorizo and wrapp in bacon.

        1. re: suburban_mom

          Another amend: Date stuffed with cabrales (or another assertive Spanish blue) cheese and wrapped with bacon.

            1. re: scubadoo97

              Best stuffed date idea yet, scubadoo!

              1. re: L.Nightshade

                I love it! There will definitely be a date assortment. I need a few w/out the bacon for my vegetarian friends. Any clever ideas for wrapping them?

                1. re: KasieB

                  Grape leaves? I've grilled chevre wrapped in grape leaves, it comes out a bit flaky and crunchy. I think it would be nice around a date, especially one with cheese inside.

    2. Classic offerings should include: bites of Manchego with quince paste, a lamb or crab stuffed empanadita, small squares of the classic Spanish potato tortilla or pan seared goat cheese polenta, marinated mushrooms or chickpeas, albondigas (meatballs) in tomato-garlic sauce, melon wrapped with Serrano ham, and a selection of my favorites, anything seafood, white anchovies, grilled squid, clams with chorizo, roasted pr poached garlicky shrimp, salt cod fritters, stuffed and fried mussels and sauteed mackerel bruschetta with olive oil and chilies. Even chicken wings roasted with garlic and lemons and grilled sausage bites are great. A selection of Spanish olives, roasted and spiced almonds, roasted peppers, fresh fruit and other Spanish cheeses, such as Cabrales, and sangria or a sangria blanco or sherries could be on the table. Crisp dry white wine or dry ros├ęs are very acceptable, along with a ruby Port for after. Bread and chocolate (toasted peasant bread topped with chopped bittersweet chocolate) would be a unusual sweet offering.

      Here's an earlier tapas thread with lots of other menu suggestions, a prep breakdown and some general fun comments:


      With so many options, I can't help think you and your guests will have a memorable time.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bushwickgirl

        I'm partial to the melon and jamon serrano, pan con tomato, Spanish charcuterie and cheeses, and Jose Andres' gazpacho (his recipe is available online). Might I suggest setting up a gazpacho bar? Make pitchers of one or more kinds of gazpacho, and have a topping station so that the guests can garnish their own servings (i.e. Spanish olive oil, Spanish sherry and sherry vinegar, diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, grilled shrimp, grilled chicken, cruotons, etc.). Sounds like a great party!

      2. If you can get a tin of angulas in time and sautee them in a little olive oil with a few red pepper flakes, serve on crackers, it might be a fun first time experience for some of your guests.

        1. catalan-style spinach and toasted pine nuts
          fried dates wrapped in bacon
          cauliflower with dates and olives
          patatas bravas

          I second the tortilla, olives, cheeses and tomato filets.

          1. I have no idea how traditional this is, but a Tapas bar near my house does "painted grapes." The dover them first in goat cheese, then honey then chopped spicey pecans. They keep the coating pretty thin, but it's very flavorful and surprisingly refreshing.

            1 Reply
            1. re: luciaannek

              I do a different version of this idea - but I mix about equal parts cream cheese and blue cheese until it comes together and is well blended. Then I essentially wrap grapes with that mixture and roll each in chopped nuts (walnuts typically) - it takes a few to get the hang of it but is very easy to do.

              They are a great little bite. I sometimes cut them in half and put around a salad but this type of party I would put 2 on a skewer and serve.

              If you are doing a tapas party like this I also highly recommend checking out


              I have bought from them many times and a few cool picks on a tapas bar make a huge impact in terms of presentation. I have trouble finding them locally and think the site has a wide selection - there may be other sites too.

            2. I love Pan con Tomato - grilled bread, rubbed with a raw garlic clove, then rubbed with a ripe tomato and sprkinled with sea salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
              Shrimp in garlic sauce are also delicious (Anne Burrell made them on her TV show once, so recipe is probably on food network)
              Grilled chunks of chorizo
              And grilled ramps or scallions with romesco sauce.


              1. Roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with crab or shrimp salad. Piquillos are a sweet red pepper. I find them in jars in my local Wegmans grocery store. If they seem too big to use whole, you can cut in half, fill, then roll up and skewer with a toothpick.

                The best tapa I ever had was a deep-fried artichoke quarter on a long stem. I think there was an aioli type condiment. Don't deep fry, so never tried to recreate, but it was awfully good.

                1. I made these other night and they were really good-lighter than you would think and you can make the filling the night or morning ahead to make it easier on you! (chicken croquettas) ( I added a bit if minced celery and parsley)
                  for the drink I would make a punch or large batch of cocktails with cava-Spanish Sparkling wine (maybe with ginger as has been suggested or oranges) try looking up cava cocktails I love tapas I am jealous of your party goers! ;)

                  1. I was going to add in piquillo peppers stuffed with crab or tuna (which are my absolute favorite) but I see someone beat me to it! Instead, I'll add Goat cheese croquettes with honey: Shape small balls of goat cheese and freeze. Roll them in flour, then egg, then panko bread crumbs. Fry until golden. Serve warm with honey to dip in.

                    1. -any kind of croquette (ham or cod if you want to be really authentic)

                      -roasted pepper tarts-I use the small premade pastry shells and fill them with roasted red/ yellow peppers and a simple custard, and then top with any kind of grated hard cheese and bake until firm

                      -olive and anchovy "crackers" - ripe olives, a can of anchovies, manchego, butter and flour. I have a more exact recipe somewhereif you're interested (I usually just eyeball it). Easy to make a day or two ahead.

                      Another Spanish drink is "kalimotxo" (pronounced cahl-ee-mo-cho). It's equal parts red wine and cola (traditionally Coke) served over ice. We used to make big bottles for parties when I lived in Spain. Not the classiest sounding drink by a longshot, but super tasty and authentic as a nice variation from traditionaly sangria.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mse924

                        The kalimotxo is definitely great esp. in the heat! You can use "value wine" too! I like mine with a few drops of bitters and a slice of orange to jazz them up. Use the mexican coke (no corn syrup and cleaner taste. (you can usually find them @cash and carry costco (mexican pepsi) if they are not available where you usually shop.) It also provides an alcohol free mocktail sans wine for folks that are slowing down or otherwise don't drink. MMmm I think I am going to request one tonight when I go out if there is no AC!

                      2. For drinking, a fino sherry is a lovely accompaniment to tapas. A necessity in my book.
                        Want to serve a cocktail? My favorite drink is vodka with a dash of fino and an anchovy-stuffed olive. In desperate times, when I couldn't find anchovy-stuffed olives, I've bought pitted olives and stuffed them myself!

                        1. You don't have to limit your ingredients to Spanish cuisine. Even in Spain you will find traditional and non traditional tapas. Any interesting small plate will do. Just make sure it's delicious.

                          1. That sounds like a very fun party. I had a sweet corn cake at a tapas place, with kernels of good corn (and it's the season for it, in a lot of places) and cheese, I think manchego. It was memorable.

                            1. Just remembered this Avocado Gazpacho that I have in my to-try tapas file.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: nemo

                                Looks good but looks very thick like pudding. Have you made this before? I think this would be a wonderful use of the Florida avocados which naturally have a higher water content and a lower fat content.

                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                  Have not made it. Yes, it looks thick. I think a little will be quite enough, but tapas are supposed to be small tastes of things. You could probably thin it out with a bit of cucumber juice or tomato water, but I'm inclined to go with the recipe as is.