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Bar Tapa

As someone who usually identifies as a glass-half-empty sort of person, I can be remarkably optimistic when it comes to food. Despite an appalling experience at the well-rated Encasa, as well as the general consensus that Spanish food in Sydney just isn’t that great, I was still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when I heard about Bar Tapa, which promises to be unapologetically Spanish. On a Saturday night, Bar Tapa has a convivial, buzzing vibe, and if it feels a little everyman, it’s made up for by the energy of the diners. The wall-to-wall Spanish memorabilia makes for some good conversation starters, and definitely adds to the authentic feel.

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It’s no secret that Spanish cuisine is one of my all-time favourites. With Melbourne’s small but high-quality selection of Spanish restaurants (my favourites are here, here, here, and here), I’ve really developed a taste for the tapas-and-vermouth life. So far from being satisfied that Sydney has blessed me with an Asian food scene that’s just as good as Melbourne’s – better, if we’re talking Thai and Korean – I’m keen to find my new favourite hidey-hole for drinks and nibbles.

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For the longest time, Hammer and Tong has been one of my favourite brunch spots. But despite always intending to make that return visit someday, K presented me with some very sad news before I could make my way back – Hammer and Tong has quietly disappeared in the night. Predictably, I was a little devastated. When I heard that the space had been taken over by Nomada however, the pain eased significantly. And what’s so special about Nomada? Not much, except for the fact that they serve tapas for brunch. Let that sink in for a bit. Tapas. For Brunch. And I can’t even bring myself to think about the $35 breakfast degustation – I may just hyperventilate. I…

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United Kitchen Dining and Tapas

Opened in late 2015, United Kitchen Dining and Tapas is an almost brand new Latin American restaurant and cocktail bar located just minutes away from the central buzzing hub of St Kilda. In stark contrast to the terrible weather outside, United Kitchen was dark, warm, and welcoming on the evening we visited. Even more inviting was the prospect of Mexican and Spanish-influenced tapas, accompanied by a generous list of wines and cocktails. Although I couldn’t have alcohol because I was driving, the team were kind enough to mix up some custom-made mocktails for us. This concoction of berries and pineapple in a base of ginger beer was sparkling and tropical, without being cloying. It could definitely hold its own, even…

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Carino Tapas Bar

Carino means love or affection, and when it comes to my own relationship with Spanish food, I have to say the name Carino Tapas Bar is rather apt. Decorated in a Flamenco style, the interior of Carino is unimaginative but also quite lovely. We were the only ones around at 6:15pm on a Friday night, but as it turns out we just eat extremely early. This place actually appears to be a favourite with the local families – some are just here for a Friday family dinner, while others were keen to pop the champagne (giving the rest of the diners a bit of a fright!).

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Smith and Daughters

When offered vegan food, 9 times out of 10 my response would be to crinkle my nose and reach for the fried chicken. Although I like my veggies, and occasionally enjoy piling my plate with nothing but salad, I just can’t reconcile myself to the concept of an all-vegan diet. It’s not the lack of meat that bothers me (though that’s definitely part of it); it’s the fact that I feel like by cutting out all animal products, I am automatically shrinking my culinary world down to a bland, unimaginative pinpoint. And whilst I’ve enjoyed many meat-free meals, I’ve yet to find one that challenges my preconceived notions of what it’s like to be vegan.

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