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Viva Las Tapas es muy bueno

Carolina Zeal on Chorlton’s new tapas coffee shop and takeaway

Published on September 29th 2008.

Viva Las Tapas es muy bueno

If you live around Chorlton you must have been walking around with your head encased in concrete not to have noticed Viva Las Tapas.

The newish Spanish 'coffee shop and takeaway' on the corner of Manchester Road is vivid red and yellow. The sign on the facade is like a party in your eyeballs. The effect shrieks: '¡Hey you! ¡Spanish takeaway here! ¡It’s exciting! ¡Come and try it!'

So I did. Not that I needed much persuasion. I love tapas. And this is perhaps the first Spanish tapas take-away in the city, perhaps even the world. Who knows.

The first thing to know is that this place is a BYO. Happily there’s a Bargain Booze (with its beautifully understated responsible drinking neon) not fifty yards away. Even more happily Viva Las Tapas doesn’t charge corkage. But be prepared, aside from the full range of Stowells, Bargain Booze isn't the most distinguished 'offie' in town. Maybe plan ahead and get something from Carringtons or the Unicorn down the road instead.

Inside the décor is very much takeaway meets local caff, but with a sort of vigorously bright charm. Outside on the decking, the feel is a little more sophisticated, and on a hot afternoon, interesting. The people passing to and fro and the double-deckers spinning round corners makes for constant action.

Visit on a United matchday and spot if they've won by the expressions on the faces going past. You can also play guess the income level of fans from the cars that back up in traffic jams as people leave the ground. Perhaps the bus stop is a bit close, and the free-standing sign with a canopy over a wheelie bin doesn't do much for the place either, but generally it's pleasant to sit.

Service is cheerful, laid back and friendly, which gives an informal dining place such as this a welcome welcoming feel, so to speak.

The selection of vegetarian tapas is decent, containing the usual suspects such as patatas bravas, garlic mushrooms and gazpacho soup. My veggie friend and I ordered the tortilla Espanola (£2.75), the patatas bravas (£2.75) and a chick pea casserole (£3.50) plus a vegetable paella to share (£4.95 per person).

The tortilla was filled with good-sized chunky wedges of potato. It was a solid thing, a proper filler (not polyfilla, a danger with Spanish omelette) just as this dish should be. The chick pea casserole was pleasant, but lacking in pizazz. The paella was similar, lovely sticky rice and squeaky seasonal vegetables, but taste-wise it was just…well...ok. Nice but forgettable (even while you were eating it). Fortunately the patatas bravas were hot and firm, not the soggy, mild things that crop up in loads of places and are just plain wrong.

I also enjoyed the mussels (£4.25), nutty little numbers of the best kind, straight from Conwy and North Wales no doubt. The rule is small is best with mussels, the huge flabby Mediterranean mussels are usually tasteless.

I also dug into an excellent chorizo al Tio Pepe (£3.25), spicy sausages in sherry and garlic with prawns and a very good selection of langostinos Finisterre (£4.50), tiger prawns with lemon and lettuce.

Viva Las Tapas is all right. It's not a destination place. There's no point crossing from Crumpsall to Chorlton for a night out there, but if you're passing, or live locally, then it adds to the amenity.

Perhaps the best bit it is the lovely atmosphere. My friend who lived in Spain for a year said the feel reminded her of Malaga, which is where the chef originally comes from. There is something really enjoyable about eating Spanish food in this laid-back, unpretentious coffee shop style. It feels right even when the nouveaux riches are revving their BMWs three metres away after a home-game at Old Trafford.

All Manchester Confidential reviews are paid for by the company and are impartial. They reflect the dining experience on the review visit. Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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34 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

camavaSeptember 29th 2008.

How some people like to moan. What would you prefer a 20 minute wait for a freshly cooked paella which is the normnal time or a warmned up pre made version

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2008.

It's not Chorlton, nearby, but not Chorlton...

EmilySeptember 29th 2008.

Isn't 6.5+4+4 actually 14.5?

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2008.

Really? It wasn't long since it opened

rosieSeptember 29th 2008.

@matthew.esquilo is right.tapa are freebie bar snacks given to patrons to encourage them to drink more.the 'tapas' we see in uk restaurants tend to be as authentic as chicken tikka masala.

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2008.

yes the people involved do know tapas as they are spanish!and excuse them for wanting to go about things differently.it is amazing,it is real spain and the food is fantastic.they really know their stuff.

fat steveSeptember 29th 2008.

m16 chorlton.

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2008.

Hm I always thought that M16 was Old Trafford! Anyway, it doesn't really matter as Jose makes the best Paella no matter where he is...

izzySeptember 29th 2008.

I went here earlier this week (once again!) and tried the creme catalana...BRILLIANT!very very nice indeed,that with a coffee outside in the cold evening was just heaven.

IzzySeptember 29th 2008.

Viva Las Tapas is great value for money.The staff are friendly, the food is to die for and the atmosphere is pure spain.I also had the mixed paella and also waited 20 minutes.This, i did not mind as Jose the chef explained to me that it is made from scratch.Very authentic and worth the wait!I have nothing but good things about this place and i myself was even sent here by a friend!A perfect way to spend and evening or get a take away.love it.10/10.

JulesSeptember 29th 2008.

Great place; the food is FAB. the owners very friendly and the prices are very reasonable. You also pay only £2 to cork your wine, which you can take yourself!I lived in Spain for four years and do know the difference between the real mccoy and pretenders. This IS the real deal, I have been there twice and the food is the BEST ( and this inc having been to La Tasca as well).....Try it, you will love it.....

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2008.

By the way those prices were their promotional prices and everything quoted in the article is now more expensive eg veg paella (only available after a 20 min wait) is £5.50, tortilla is £3.25. I had the mixed paella for £6.95 and was disappointed at the meagre fish/meat content. The calamares was amazing - batter couldn't have been better.

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2008.

nope.it's in whalley range.even got an m16 postcode

jimmySeptember 29th 2008.

Good review. Though I would take issue with the statement that Viva Las Tapas is not a destination place. Coming from the "Tapas Starved hinterlands" of Salford and Swinton, VLT is a handy (and considerably better value) alternative to city centre Spanish offerings. The Staff are really friendly and welcoming and the Patatas Bravas are to die for. If they could just add Boquerones to the menu I’d be driving southside even more often!

clareSeptember 29th 2008.

I dont think its from the owners, i have been told by my freinds how nice this place is so i think its just loyal customers who have genuinley enjoyed it. In all fairness to those who have been sticking up for viva las tapas, i dont think coming on here to rant about the origional tradition of tapas is really the way to go about things, why not go down and try it out? It does seem very nice and I may have to have a trip there, especially after all this!

amanda murphySeptember 29th 2008.

hi this is situated in chorlton. numb nuts

penny tSeptember 29th 2008.

Was there last night with my significant other and the food was lovely. Amazing champinones al ajillo, patatas bravas and very tasty Gazpacho. We sat and talked to the chef and owner who are both passionate and super friendly in a very Spanish leisurely way about football, the weather, but most of all about Spain's amazing food. The atmosphere and service could not have been better. People in the local vicinity working or living need to support a great small business like this because this is what helps make an area a community. Recommended

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2008.

pity its closed down

camavaSeptember 29th 2008.

Obvioulsy not been for a while or you have tried the Crema Catalasn. also the empanadillas chicken or Tuna. You should really update your comments. I am sure if you asked they would make you cafe condenesada or other wise known as cafe bon bon, which is coffee with condensed milk

esquiloSeptember 29th 2008.

Wherever it is..(although many Chorltonians would choke on their fair-trade muesli martinis if you offered them an M16 postcode), it looks interesting. But a Tapas takeaway? I know Manchester (so much to answer for) is responsible for the beginning of the endless rise of La Tasca's increasingly low-slung pleasures, but do the people involved even know what Tapa(s) is about?A Tapa(s) isn't a takeaway, its not a restaurant, its not a bar. Tapas are free snacks offered BY bars to their patrons while they quaff their beers, wines or sherries. This is as close to that concept as McDonalds is to a grill in Hamburg.

camavaSeptember 29th 2008.

I also agree it is a destination place. What people have to remember is that this opened originally as a takeway/cafe. It is evolving into a cafe/takeaway due to the relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff, not to mention excellent food. So I do think it is a detsination palce, if anybody was there last week there was alos live music.

Whalley RangerSeptember 29th 2008.

Viva La Tapas is situated in Whalley Range and compliments the feel and essence of the area. Have had several enjoyable meals there since the opening and find the BYO option good for budgeting. Please introduce Creme Catalana and Cafe Condensada and I'll be a very happy bunny. More restaurants and cafe bars for the Range please.

SDGJSHQSeptember 29th 2008.

yup its gone been open jsut over a year and tunred into a carribean bar, think one of the owners is opening a better place somewhere else

CastlefieldSeptember 29th 2008.

Is it just me that thinks a few of the above comments are from owners/staff at the of the premises? I'm sure it's lovely and if passing will give it a go. However I'm either very cynical or someone's cheating, or both! Start at the comment by 'Bozo' and work your way down. See what you think!

matthewSeptember 29th 2008.

can i just say to "esquilo" that it seems you just do not know your stuff and have made youself out to be a complete fool on a website that is not being a severe know it all. The owners of viva las tapas are spanish and very about the traditional way of spain, this place is fantastic.do u see any bad comments about the place on ehre apart from yours?didnt think so.it is optional to take away theres plenty of room to sit, this done so people can have real cooked TAPAS by real spanish chefs in the confort of thier own home.small minded people should really take a little trip down there.

AvoSeptember 29th 2008.

Why is everyone so hung up on whether this place is in Chorlton or Whalley Range? Does it have a bearing on the way the food tastes or something?

ianSeptember 29th 2008.

Fabulous food.....superb service.....and.....VIVA LAS TAPAS FOR AMAZING VALUE FOR MONEY!Well worth a visit: highly recommended!

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2008.

Visited for the first time yesterday and loved it! The staff were friendly, the service was good and the food was just FANTASTIC!!! Will be back again very soon!

Jonathan SchofieldSeptember 29th 2008.

Emily, that's what we like about our readers they can count. Thanks. Dear Anonymous your geography is impeccable.

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2008.

How sad you all are that you have nothing more to go on about than where a resturante/takeaway is sitauted. Id like to echo the sentiments above that, it was originally suppsoed to be a takeaway, id be more than happy to wait 45 mins if i knew the food was fresh, and if your hung up about where it is situated dont go loosers! It id a great little place, and now they have a new veranda and covered i makes it even better!

dorindaSeptember 29th 2008.


rosieSeptember 29th 2008.

with all due respect to Jules,it's not difficult to surpass la tasca as far as food goes.

LeeJune 19th 2010.

I do love the way that people in Chorlton feel they are something special because they have an M21 postcode. I lived there for 7 years and it ain't that great a place that you have to get so pretentious about it. BTW..Vivas La Tapas was always in Chorlton. Oficially, Egerton Rd is the boundary so it definitely falls into Chorlton.

NortherngeezerJune 19th 2010.

My arse Lee, i was born and bred in Chorlton, its one step up from Hulme and Whalley Range, unless of course your one of the 'nobeads who live in Chorlton Green, but they bought there way in.

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