1116 Argyle Street


What is it: The aim for Rioja when it opened in the heart of The Finnieston area of Glasgow was to be the most authentic Spanish restaurant in Glasgow, blending modern and traditional flavours. Four years on it has grown a loyal following and a reputation as one of the most fun and innovative tapas bars in the country.

Interesting fact: In October last year Michelin-starred chef Modesto Fabregat took over the kitchen at Rioja in a gastronomic four-day takeover. Modesto worked with passionate Rioja head chef, Luis Urrutiabeaskoa. The chefs who were both trained in the Basque region curated a distinctive eight-course tasting menu around the best of Scottish and Iberian produce. The rumour has it that Fabregat will be back this year, so keep your eyes peeled.

Verdict: What I like about Rioja is that it's not just a stereotypical UK version Tapas bar and restaurant. You know the ones, castanets hanging on the wall, pictures of bulls, corks everywhere, you get the picture. It's not just the decor that makes it different though, it's fun here and they have a great balance between a place you can go for a relaxed bite to eat and a chat early on and somewhere for drinks later on (it’s open until 1am every night). They have also evolved the offering over the years and not just relied on the fact that it's in Finnieston to bring in the crowds. If you get a chance, check out the Vinyl Disco and funk DJ night they do on a Thursday, you won't find that in La Tasca. If you are in the hospitality industry you will also receive a 25 per cent discount on drinks.

Drink: Of course you will find a plethora of delicious Spanish wines here but you can also get a perfectly made cocktail. If you want to be ahead of the game then order a chilled Alvear Pedro Ximenez Solera Sherry from Andalusia. Sherry is the next big thing. If you are into trying new food and drink then head down on the June 28 at 7.30pm to their Vegan Wine Dinner, which promises Spanish vegan wines paired with a speciality five-course plant-based menu.

Food: The market menu here is constantly being modified by chef Luis, usually on a monthly basis. Also, its vegan-inspired menu has been a hit. Don’t worry though if you are a carnivore, they still have loads of classic and innovative meat and fish dishes to choose from.

Prices: Tapas start from £5.50 to £9.50, with loads of different menus to choose from.

Alfresco: Most of the year you will find a few south-facing seats outside here and when the sun is out all you have to do is close your eyes, nibble of bit of calamari and sip a bit of Vino Blanco and you are pretty much on the Gran Via in Madrid ... or maybe that's just me.

Perfect for: Heading down with your partner for a bite to eat and a drink after work then getting your friends to join you later for a big night.

Avoid if: You are just not a sharer.

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