What is the difference between tapas and pinchos (pintxos)?

Along the years, tapas and pinchos have become a form of national identification.

Indeed, nowadays, when you hear tapas or pinchos, you automatically imagine yourself at a terrace in Spain, sipping a nice Sangria or Tinto de Verano, while eating a mini snack.


Pinchos or Pintxos

The Spanish dictionarry (REA) defines a tapa as ‘a small portion of any food served to accompany a drink’.
The Spanish dictionary defines a pincho like ‘a portion of food served, sometimes with a cocktail stick, as an aperitif’. The word “pincho” comes from the verb “to pinchar” which means “to pierce”.
A tapa is normally just a smaller sized portion of a main dish, served in a plate, which you eat with cutlery. The pincho is normally served on a piece of bread or other, served usually with a cocktail stick which you can eat in one or two bites.
From which region do tapas come from? 
It’s hard to define the exact origin. Some say tapas are originally from the center of Spain. Tapas-style food is popular from classical to very modern interpretations. You find many different varieties all over Spain.
From which region do pinchos (or pintxos) come from?
The pincho are traditionally from the Basque country, an autonomous region in the north of Spain. In Bask language a pincho is written as “pintxo”.  Although in numbers you will still find most pintxos bars in the Bask county Nowadays, pintxo are a popular all over Spain.


Eating tapas in Andalucia
Tapas are generally presented in a menu-style and you pay for every tapa. However in some cities in the southern region of Andalucia, such as Almería or Granada, there is a tapas culture where tapas are served for free with every drink you order.
Be careful: with every new drink, the tapa tends to get a bit better and more elaborate than the previous. So you end up ordering more drinks!

You want to try the best tapas in Granada and don’t know where to go? If you’re a student at our Granada school, we’ll take you on a tour to the best ones.

Tapas or pintxos in Barcelona and Madrid
Both Barcelona and Madrid are melting pots of immigrants from all other regions in Spain, you will find many different type of tapas bars; specialized in fish, meat, classical tapas, modern cuisine tapas or pintxos (see next paragraph). This is where the area between tapas and pinchos will get grey.

You want to order your own pintxos in Spanish San Sebastián? If you’re a student at our school in San Sebastián, we’ll take you on a tour to the best pintxos bars! Okay, fair enough, at all our schools in Spain we take our students out for tapas to the nicest and most original local tapas bars.

Some examples of tapas:

…and some examples of pinchos: