The painful, wonderful joy of Spain’s best tapas bars

As a poor college student backpacking through Europe, one of the more painful ordeals I experienced was exercising enough self-restraint at Spain’s delicious tapas bars to not eat myself into even worse poverty.

The temptation was nearly irresistible. Let me set the stage for you: after a full day of walking for miles and taking in the sights, I’d find myself in an aged and weathered pub in the early evening, hunched over the bar and staring at dozens of small plates loaded up with the most tantalizing, bite-sized morsels–each of which pleaded seductively for me to wolf it down.

These compact, culinary masterpieces were dollops of perfection bursting with rich and addictive flavors that threatened to bleed my money belt dry. And, at a couple of bucks a pop, this was a very likely scenario considering that it would have taken a few dozen to satiate my appetite.

I’m looking forward to returning to Spain one day now that I have a real job and with it, the freedom to eat as many damn tapas as I please. In the meantime, I’m going to file away a wonderful Travel & Leisure article I recently came across featuring 36 of the very best tapas bars in San Sebastián, Barcelona, Seville, and Madrid. And then one day, I’m going to eat my way through Spain.