Not every restaurant can boast Johnny Depp and Brian May as regulars on their website.

Tucked away between Park Lane and Piccadilly in Mayfair El Pirata lives up to any high expectations this might give you, and you totally understand why the tapas bar has so many regulars who return again and again (so we were told).

My friend Natasha and I were welcomed into the cosy restaurant with open arms, especially by our waiter Pepe who was an absolute delight all evening.

We both commented on the superb service we received consistently all night. The main floor of the restaurant boasts a casual and intimate feel, centred round a bar which looked chock-a-block with bottles (almost like a library of alcohol!) and a spiral staircase heading down to a bigger dining area.

After we got settled, we ordered a bottle of house white wine (very good) before Pepe brought over his favourite dishes for us to try, instead of us ordering dishes for ourselves.

I’m vegetarian and Natasha isn’t, so Pepe brought us a mixture of four different dishes in three separate rounds and probably more than you normally need to order.

For our starters, we had the pan con ali-oli (£1.30), bread with a garlic mayonnaise dip of which both components were simple and delicious, alongside padron peppers (£5.45) which were exactly as you’d hope and expect them to be, plus a selection of ham which Natasha seemed pleased with.

Pimientos de padron at El Pirata

Moving onto seafood, Natasha also particularly enjoyed the prawns (gambas al pil-pil, £6.55) but she was less enamoured with the calamares con arroz negro (black rice and squid, £8.55) saying it was nice enough, but you’d have to really LOVE squid to enjoy it.

Unfortunately she doesn’t love squid that much and had to scrub her lips to get the black stains off too!

Chorizo for the Spanish meat eaters!

Natasha also enjoyed the chorizo (£4.95), saying of that and the ham that it was oily in just the right way for Spanish meat.

Throughout all this, I was very happy with all my veggie options. In particular, the aubergine and pepper dishes, both stuffed with vegetables and topped with cheese, were absolutely delicious (Berenjena jardinera and pimiento relleno, both £5.65).

And the garbanzos con pisto (chick peas with slow cooked aubergine, courgettes and peppers, £5.85), complemented them well.

Patatas bravas

There were two dishes I enjoyed slightly less – the tortilla (Spanish omelette with potatoes and onion, £4.65) and patatas bravas (deep-fried potatoes in chilli and garlic sauce, £4.05), both of which were just a bit more bland and dry than I was expecting.

Overall though, this didn’t hamper my enjoyment of trying all the different tapas dishes – you can’t get bored with tapas!

Crack the crema catalana with a spoon

To finish, we tried the crema catalana, effectively a Spanish twist on the crème brulèe (£4.55), which was nice enough but we were a bit too full to enjoy it.

The whole evening was simply lovely - we enjoyed the atmosphere, the service and a variety of dishes. No wonder all those regulars keep coming back.


Price: Two set menus for £18.50 or £23.50 per person

Address: Down Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 7AQ

Telephone: 020 74913810


Dress code: Smart casual

Nearest tube station: Hyde Park Corner

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