The Best Spanish Restaurants In LA

Six spots to let loose over tapas, pintxos, wine, and great paella.
Dos Besos pulpo

photo credit: Jakob Layman

This guide would have been pretty thin just a few years ago, which feels silly to say because it’s still pretty short. Counting the dedicated Spanish restaurants in LA is like counting the hairs on Pablo Picasso’s head. (The man was follically challenged.)

But recently there’s been a noticeable shift. While LA still doesn’t have a huge amount of Spanish spots, it now has much better ones serving great paella, interesting tapas, and menus featuring regional cooking across Spain. So we’re rising to the occasion by highlighting the best Spanish restaurants in LA.


photo credit: Jessie Clapp


Beverly Grove

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsCasual Weeknight DinnerSmall Plates
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Hidden on what’s essentially a San Vicente service road, you could live in Beverly Grove for years and not know much about La Paella. This family-run Spanish restaurant feels like you’re drinking tempranillo in an old tavern in Madrid, and the tapas menu is full of homey dishes you won’t find at modern spots. This is where you should focus your attention: mini skillets of sizzling baby eels, paprika-tinged callos madrileños (tripe and chickpea stew), and a buttery-soft octopus swimming in good olive oil. Regardless of this restaurant’s name, the paella here is just ok and a touch wet for our liking, but we appreciate that the warm staff serve it tableside (A nice touch).

Otoño in Highland Park is a great place to kick off a night of bar hopping on Figueroa, preferably with one of their goblet-sized gin tonics. The tapas at this modern Spanish restaurant can be hit or miss, but there are notable wins, like garlicky gambas worth ordering twice and a simple, delicious pan de tomate with a thick layer of tomatoey pulp. Still, the main event of an evening at Otoño is their paella with premium socarrat— the crispy, toasty edges of rice that Spaniards obsess over. There are a few styles to choose from, but we love the mariscos paella with big prawns and a dollop of aioli that moistens the rice’s crust.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightSmall Plates


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Xuntos is home to the best tapas experience in LA and is one of the places we’d insist on for a fun, off-the-cuff dinner in downtown Santa Monica. Most shareable dishes cost between $15 and $20, so groups can explore the region-spanning menu without breaking the bank. It’s also a sneakily easy place to linger, so order a bottle of chilled albariño for the table and make the rounds on dishes like crumbly Galician tuna empanadas, Cantabrian anchovy toasts, and grilled Basque squid stuffed with shallots and minced scallops.

This Woodland Hills cafe feels like a Spaniard’s idea of an American roadside diner—a cute daytime spot full of vintage car memorabilia, an espresso bar, and a mini wine shop, because why not? Gasolina is the best for a quiet weekday lunch with a friend, where you can split a tortilla stuffed with jammy caramelized onions or a serrano-chorizo bocadillo with a spicy, vinegary kick from guindilla peppers. Spanish ingredients are also snuck into the brunch-y dishes in ways that work, like a serrano ham breakfast sandwich with spicy aioli and patatas bravas hash with a runny egg plopped on top.

A lot of Spanish restaurants serve paella, but none of them have the cojones to call themselves paella specialists. But Dos Besos can rightfully make that boast. At this stylish yet casual spot in Old Town Pasadena, the paella takes 30 minutes to make and arrives near perfect. The paella valenciana feeds two to three and comes with mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, and two very large prawns sharing a kiss in the middle. The rice, however, is the real star, with its crispy socarrat and garlic-wine broth seasoning every spoonful.

photo credit: Kim Fox

$$$$Perfect For:Lunch

Surrounded by blocks of auto repair shops, La Española is not so much a restaurant as a semi-hidden grocery and deli with every Spanish food item under the sun: house-cured jamon, manchego, olive oil, wine, and more types of tinned fish than you can count. While we’re there stocking up on vermouth, we like to order one of their affordable bocadillos: long, skinny sandwiches on crunchy, oil-drizzled bread stuffed with things like serrano ham, chorizo, or tomatoey anchovies. They're also famous for the batches of paella they cook up every Saturday—just be sure to call ahead to pre-order, as they sell out fast.

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