I’ve been coming to El Rincon de Rafa (Rafa’s corner) for a few years. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric tapas bar underground in the backstreets of the Deansgate area of Manchester.

In fact, it was these guys that helped me transform the feeble excuse of a recipe for croquettas peddled by the Guardian into something worthy of a Spanish mama. So, in my eyes, it has pedigree. El Rincon has always been the source of joviality between my colleagues; we have one that always orders lamb chops, sardines and chorizo al vino but keeps them to himself whilst sharing ours; we became wise to this years ago and compensated but still wind him up chronically!

This social element, is course is part of the whole point of tapas; a certain approach to eating which is recommended, that’s not entirely in keeping with the British way – I’ve blogged on it before. To be fair, El Rincon pace out the dishes, so it’s at least a little better than others.

You need a minimum of four people really here; not that you can’t enjoy tapas with less, but the breadth of traditional dishes (the specials menu is almost as long as the regular one) means you’re going to want to try a lot !!! I would especially recommend the pollo paprika, and the fillet steak in pepper sauce – both are lovely. As are the aioli and olives you can start with. Not that I got a look in, but the sardines are also apparently very good.

Cold Spanish beers are on tap, but the house red is also very competent – no wonder that El Rincon is packed on a Wednesday night!! This does mean the service is a little strained; but its meant to be slow and social. They don’t take reservations for just 2 people, but you can happily drink at the bar and enjoy a tapa or two whilst waiting for a table. If you are in the area, this really is a must visit place,

El Rincon de Rafa
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