El Parador

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I hesitated before submitting this review for publication. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to give away the secret location of this local neighbourhood restaurant for fear of it becoming so popular that I would never be able to secure a reservation here again. But I needn’t worry because it’s already popular, so much so that on a Friday night you will see people queuing at the door in hungry anticipation of the next free table.

El Parador FrontThey won’t usually accept bookings of two on busy weekend nights, but larger parties should most certainly phone ahead to reserve a table, or you will be left salivating outside as you watch happy diners pop small nibbles of the most delicious tapas into their greedy gobs.

Ah, so it’s a Spanish tapas restaurant, I hear you cry. Indeed, and a bloody good one at that.

One of the owners has a very theatrical moustache but aside from that, there is little in the dining room to prepare you for the onslaught of finely honed flavours and playful textures that awaits you in the kitchen. Baby squid marinated with chilli, garlic and coriander, pork meatballs in a rich and lightly spiced tomato and herb sauce, roasted beetroot salad with mixed leaves, pumpkin seeds, goat’s cheese and a walnut oil and balsamic dressing are just a few of the pleasures on offer. Compared to the upmarket Fino down the road in trendy NoHo, El Parador is half the price and twice as good.

Dining RoomThe dining rooms are a buzzing cathedral of satisfied customers, the wine list is well chosen and fairly priced, and desserts are suitably decadent. Service is brisk and friendly, and they have a specials board that changes regularly. Whatever you choose from the extensive menu, it will be good. They even have a garden for al fresco dining when the British weather manages to emulate its Spanish cousin.

El Parador is one of those restaurants that you always want to visit. As with a traditional Spanish tapas bar, it’s the type of place you could happily go to every day after work for a cool beer, a glass of woody Rioja and several plates of mouth-watering nibbles. Apparently they’ve been going strong since 1988, and as a Norf London lad I’m ashamed to say that I’d never been there until recently. All those years of fantastic tapas that I missed out on – I have a lot of catching up to do. One of Camden’s finest. Buen apetito!

El Parador Restaurant, 245 Eversholt Street, Camden Town, London NW1 1BA. Tel. +44 (0)20 7387 2789.

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  1. Like you, I missed out on El Parador for so many years! Twenty one (wasted?) years to be precise. Is it too late to catch up? Went with the wife and friends on a Friday and then found myself walking right past on the Sunday just before last orders and was unable to resist! They even gave me a table for four which encouraged my usual “eyes are bigger than stomach” problem. I broke the rule about mobile phones in restaurants when, with mouth full of griiled squid, I phoned my wife, who was away for the weekend, to confess. Forgive me, for I have sinned, but it was worth it! They are currently offering a special three for the price of two on all tapas at weekday lunchtimes. I think I will find myself ambling by again quite soon.

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