The best tapas in Manchester is one of the most widely discussed discourses in the city, but the truth is, you have to go a little further out of town to find it.
Bar San Juan is the very definition of a hidden gem, but it is also one of those places with a loyal band of followers who endeavour to keep the secret on the DL as not to ruin it. The phrase ‘if you know, you know’ certainly comes to mind.
So here is me ruining the secret for everyone and publishing the details and whereabouts of Manchester’s best tapas restaurant for all to see. I expect an angry mob of pitchfork wielding Chorltonians at my door at any minute.
You will find the brightly-tiled walls of San Juan Tapas Bar on the lower end of Beech Road just round the corner from the leafy Chorlton Green. You can’t miss it.
The most notable feature of San Juan is its size. To call is small is a pretty hefty understatement, and quite frankly, you couldn’t swing a cat in there – but that is just part of the charm.
The deep red interior is half taken up by the kitchen, where you can see the chef happily making your tapas. The other quarter is the bar and the rest of the room is filled with tables for you to sit.
Stepping into San Juan is like stepping into a portal that transports you to the streets of Madrid. The walls are adorned with all sorts of bric-a-brac like vintage Flamenco posters, empty wine bottles and Alhambra inspired tiles while the steady beat of the retro fan drums in the background.
It is safe to say that San Juan looks ‘lived in’ which is all part of the delight of the place. The aesthetic is everything I want from a Spanish restaurant – small, cozy, and endlessly nostalgic, which is really like no other establishment in the whole of Manchester.
As for the offering, the authenticity is not just limited to the look of the place. Kick back and get started with one of their delicious bottles of Spanish wines, sangria or cerveza. Chances are you will have to wait for a table, so I recommend you get acquainted with the drinks selection while you do.
The drinks make the perfect pairing to the delicious menu of tapas. Expect all the heavy hitters like Patatas Bravas, Jamon Croquettas and Chorizo in red wine, but the menu is SO much more than that.
Their cold tapas includes such delights as Jamon Iberico (the real stuff), Spanish cheeses and cured anchovies with green olives. Fish lovers can get stuck into Gambas (prawns), Galician-style octopus with potatoes, and mussels cooked in sherry while meat eaters will be spoilt for choice with selections of lamb chops, beef cheeks and meatballs just to name a few.
It doesn’t matter what you want from your tapas, this menu will have you spoilt for choice and satisfied with the price in an environment which can be described as nothing other than endearing.
To put it frankly, Bar San Juan is the best experience of Spanish tapas you are going to find this side of Granada, and hands down one of Manchester’s best kept secrets.
Bar San Juan, 56 Beech Rd, Manchester M21 9EG
0161 860 0498