La Tapeoteca Apóstoles
C. Apóstoles, 16, 30001 Murcia City
Date of Visit: 27th October 2023
With our 14-year-old son’s social life cruelling shining a bright spotlight onto how pathetic ours is, we are killing time crawling the tapas bars of Murcia city, until our taxi duties resume, and we collect him from yet another friend’s birthday bash.
I’ve been told about La Tapeoteca. The chef and owner, Murcian born Manuel Álvarez, has created quite a buzz in the city since opening his own restaurant. Situated in the historic Plaza del Cardenal Belluga, we take a seat outside, literally feet away from the cathedral. As city vibes go, this is hard to beat.
We’re given a free small tapa of slightly unusual, but more than slightly tasty, popcorn with blue cheese, to snack on whilst we contemplate the stylish menu.
I order Marinara Murciano, mainly because it’s one of the few tapas I can almost pronounce, and it makes me feel good about myself before I inevitably revert to pointing for the rest of the order. It’s the city’s signature tapa – Russian Salad piled high onto a U-shaped breadstick topped with an anchovy.
Our friendly server makes a couple more recommendations. I love this. This is how you should always choose your tapas - putting your trust in the experience of the hopefully knowledgeable server. Except I don’t. I’ve been doing my homework and I’m keen to try a couple of dishes that have been frequently described in online reviews as excellent - Pincho Morunos de Atún and Raviolis Rabo Toro (oxtail ravioli), even if my pronunciation means we could be served literally anything.
Pinchos morunos are tuna skewers marinated in a blend of eastern spices and smoked on a bed of rosemary. The result is juicy tuna, pink on the inside and with a charred, herby outside that sends my thoughts wandering off through the back streets of Marrakesh.
They’re served somewhat perplexingly on a wooden boat, poked into little holes drilled into the deck. I’m still pondering that, as a guided tour stops directly in front of us, temporarily spoiling our view of the imposing cathedral. Enthralling as I’m sure the lecture on 14th century architecture is, several of the group seem decidedly more interested in my oxtail.
And who can blame them? Fresh, fat dumplings cossetting tender, shredded oxtail, sat upon a bed of potato and truffle puree that’s so stupidly creamy it’s almost a sauce in itself. The actual sauce, a rich oxtail reduction drizzled over, blends into the puree to create what my dad would call ‘a nice bit of wet’. Add some veg and you’d have yourself a proper grownup's plate of dinner. It’s certainly a hearty tapa.
We finish off with something sweet. I’ve been wanting to try Paparajotes for quite some time now. A traditional Murcian dessert of lemon leaves fried in a sweet batter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Only the batter is eaten. The leaves are there only to impart flavour and they do their job very well, creating a citrusy, sweet donut-esque pud. Now my thoughts are transferred to childhood seaside holidays in Bognor Regis. The leaves are served hanging from a tree. Food here certainly arrives in style.
La Tapeoteca serves exquisite, stylish tapas. Forget out of the bag, deep-fried frozen calamari and patatas bravas that’s all too often served in touristy hotspots. This is bite-sized fine dining at its best.
Our meal of three tapas for two to share, plus a free one, wine and beer came to €37,45. This included a discount of 5 cents for, amongst other things, 'being special'. I kid you not.