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El Coto

17 Hallgarth Street Durham DH1 3AT

A little slice of Spain, El Coto is the real deal for anyone looking for an authentic night out. On a recent visit, we were preceded in by a Spanish family – always a good sign – and then waited upon by a succession of equally Spanish staff, happy to offer cheery advice about the menu. It's a tapas place, with a big menu of lots of little dishes, though it's actually more restaurant than bar. You get your own table, and for one of those it's best to book, especially at weekends. What follows is an exercise in gluttony, as it's easy to order far too much – fried prawns with gutsy amounts of chilli and garlic, a rustic lamb stew, marinaded sardines with artichokes, garlic chicken, and 'ropa vieja' (old clothes), which is a melt-in-the-mouth casserole of beef, chickpeas and aubergine. If this doesn't sound like your standard high-street tapas joint, you'd be right. It's really good, really friendly and not particularly pricey, which means there's a fair student clientele

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