(This recipe is part of “A Tapas Experience.”)

Spanish Tapas Bars – Social Hot Spots

If you find yourself meandering the streets of Madrid, Pamplona or Logrono, Spain, you can not help but stumble upon a Spanish Tapas Bar. These little social hot spots continually line the cobblestone streets. Excitement fills the air and entices you to come and stay a while. Complete strangers become friends as you share in this culinary experience.

Tapas would be considered “shareable plates” here in the States. Instead of having just one entrée per person, everyone around a table partakes of a variety of samplings. Each dish becomes the main topic of conversation. Whether it is sautéed mushroomstortilla Española or Spanish pork skewers, everyone is engaged around these foods. You think you come to an end, and here comes another dish to indulge your taste buds yet again. The beauty of a Tapas restaurant is to be able to meet up after work and stay until the sun goes down. Time stands still in this atmosphere. You MUST encounter Tapas with friends. The experience is invitingly social. I love what transpires around an evening filled with these small wonders.

Patatas Bravas
Patatas Bravas – One of the Most Popular Tapas in Spain

Patatas Bravas (Spanish for Spicy Potatoes) is one of the most popular tapas in Spain and has become one one my favorite. Who doesn’t love golden fried potatoes with a spicy aioli drizzled on top? There are various ways to cook these Patatas Bravas to get them nice and crispy, but the method I prefer is to fry them twice. It is like twice baked potatoes except it is twice-fried.  As you bite through that crispy outer layer, it leads you to a soft and tender center. It’s a perfect compliment of crunch and delicate. I found this frying method on “The Modern Proper” site. It is, by far, the best way to get a crispy potato. They have a nice variation of Patatas Bravas as well. The best way to serve this dish is piping hot with a good dusting of kosher salt.

Patatas BravasThe “cherry on top,” so to speak, is most definitely the aioli. You could almost drink this Spicy Aioli out of a cup; it is that delicious. It has a nice little kick to it, and the smokiness of the paprika adds a lovely dimension as well.

A Tapas Experience

Red Wine Sangria
Red Wine Sangria
Churros and Spanish Hot Chocolate
Churros and Chocolate
Sautéed Mushrooms in Wine Sauce
Sautéed Mushrooms
Bacon Wrapped Dates
Spanish Pork Skewers
Spanish Pork Skewers
Fried Stuffed Olives
Fried Stuffed Olives
Tortilla Española with Garlic Aioli
Tortilla Española
Shrimp in Sautéed Garlic Sauce
Shrimp in Garlic Sauce
Patatas Bravas
Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas with Smoky Aioli Sauce

Patatas Bravas with Smoky Aioli

A Smoky Spanish Tapas – Potatoes that are perfectly crisp on the outside while tender and delicate in the center. The Smoky Tomato Aioli Sauce tops this dish with a nice hint of heat and smokiness.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour and 20 min
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: -25410640.033333 minute
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: Spanish Tapas


  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup prepared mayonnaise
  • 4-5 dashes hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
  • A splash of cooking sherry
  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • Olive oil and/or canola oil, enough to cover 2 inches in pan
  • Kosher salt, to taste


For Smoky Aioli Sauce:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut tomatoes lengthwise and arrange on shallow pan cut side up. Cut the red onion into 2-inch chunks and add them to the pan along with garlic cloves with skins still on. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the sprigs of thyme over the top of the vegetables. Cook in the oven for 1 hour or until tomato skins are wrinkled and the vegetables are soft. Let cool. Squeeze the soft garlic out of its skin.

(Variation for roasted vegetables: Fire up the gas grill to high heat and skewer all the vegetables. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add chopped thyme instead of the sprigs. Grill until soft.)

In a food processor, blend the roasted vegetables, mayonnaise, paprika, cumin, hot pepper sauce and the cooking sherry. Process the mixture until smooth scraping the sides in between pulses. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight for all the flavors to meld together.

For Potatoes:

Peel and dice the potatoes into 1-inch cubes.

Heat the oil in a large heavy cast iron skillet to a temperature of 300 degrees using a deep fat thermometer. Make sure and maintain this temperature as you cook through the batches of potatoes. You don’t want to fry too many at a time as that will crowd them in the pan and bring the temperature down. Also, stir the potatoes as you fry them in order to get them browned nicely on all sides. Stay close and remove in about 5 minutes or so.

Drain potatoes on a plate covered with paper towels. Let them completely cool before continuing the process.

Reheat the oil to 370 degrees. Fry the potatoes again in small batches and remove from oil for 3-5 minutes. Again drain potatoes on a plate with fresh paper towels. Immediately sprinkle with the desired amount of kosher salt.

Drizzle with Smoky Aioli and serve warm. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley.


  • Serving Size: 1 cup potatoes with 1/8 cup aioli
  • Calories: 298
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Sodium: 164 mg
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 55 g
  • Fiber: 8 g
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Cholesterol: 1 mg