Award: 1 Michelin Star
Visit: 28 October 2023
Brothers Peter and Jonray Sanchez-Iglesias first opened the restaurant in 2016 and named it after the family patriarch, Paco Sanchez-Iglesias. A Michelin Star was awarded in the 2018 guide that it has retained ever since.
Originally sitting beside its acclaimed Michelin starred sister restaurant Casamia, it is sited in Bristol’s former General Hospital. There are approximately 60 covers plus 55 covers on a very nice waterside dining terrace overlooking Bathurst Basin. Peter closed Casamia in 2022, and opened Casa, a modern Italian small plates restaurant that was launched in its place.
Menus are handwritten on brown paper and change daily. Andalusian classic tapas like tortillas and jamón croquetas are some of the finest you’ll find in the UK. Signature tapas dishes include Octopus a la Gallega, Tortilla Española and Gambas Al Ajillo, and there are daily specials.
The Executive chef is Joel Breakwell who has worked at Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’s restaurants since 2018. He first joined the team as commis chef and became head chef at Paco Tapas just in 2019. When Peter closed Casamia, Joel was named executive chef of Casa, and now oversees the kitchens at both restaurants.
The restaurant was very busy with a great atmosphere. Seating is on stools at high tables or at the bar. We ordered a wide selection of tapas dishes from the menu which were delivered to the table in no particular order, depending on kitchen and cooking times. The food was exceptionally good.
The sourdough bread, made by an artisan baker in Bristol, was lightly toasted and charred on the barbecue and served with a slug of olive oil and sea salt. The bread was very good, and the charring and oil added great flavour. We chose the Lomo de Cebo de Campo Iberico ham as it is from the loin and has less fat, which we prefer, but other cuts were available. The Jamon croquetas were the best I have tasted, crisp on the outside, and filled with gooey Manchego cheese, Bechamel sauce and ham. We chose the Manzanilla olives, which are slightly smoky and almondy in taste, although the fat Gordal olives were also available if you preferred.
At Paco Tapas, the meat and the fish are all barbecued over coal and applewood. Our fish courses included two large prawns, Gambas Al Ajillo, cooked in a garlic and hot paprika oil and served in their shell, which were extremely tasty. We also tried the Cornish hake fillet, which was precisely cooked, with moist, white, flaky flesh and a crisp skin. We ordered the stuffed mussels which were cooked in Tio Pepe Fino sherry and chicken stock, the stock was then reduced and an allioli added to make a creamy garlic sauce, then sourdough crumb, chives, and Manchego cheese were used to stuff them. These were very fabulous. The Octopus a la Gallega was the best octopus I have ever eaten, soft and buttery but with a firmer skin. The octopus was boiled for forty minutes, then rested in the boiled water for another forty minutes. Next, it had been lightly charcoal grilled, and then finished with Manteca Iberian pork lard, garlic, and drizzled with oil and sweet paprika.
The stuffed quail were two deboned birds stuffed with Sobrasada (a raw, cured sausage from the Balearic Islands made with ground pork, paprika, salt and other spices) and dates. These were very juicy and had great taste. To accompany the quail, we ordered some cauliflower with Manchego cheese sauce, the cauliflower had been brined then roasted in brown butter. We also ordered the patatas bravas (white potatoes that have been cubed, then fried in oil and served warm with spicy sauces and sprinkled with paprika) which were very good.
Throughout the meal, we tried a wide range of sherries, including Tio Pepe, Manzanilla, Oloroso, Amontillado and Leonor Palo Cortado. Our waiter assisted with the selection of sherry and wine so they matched the food we were eating.
Having just returned from a trip to Malaga, I have recently tried a lot of tapas. The tapas at Paco Tapas were far better than anything I have tried before. This is seriously good food, served at a very reasonable price. The service throughout was friendly and the staff took the time to explain the dishes to me. The restaurant was very busy so I would advise booking. This was a fabulous dinner, and I look forward to returning in the Summer when we will be able to sit on the waterside terrace.
The menu for 28 October:
List of sherries:
List of Cava: