From churros and hot chocolate to paella and charcuterie plates, these five tapas restaurants highlight Spanish cuisine that is not to be missed. By Carly Petrone.
Grab a seat inside Bar Jamon, Mario Batali’s tiny wine bar that’s adjacent to his Spanish restaurant, Casa Mono. He and Chef Andrew Nusser are plating up plenty of shareable small plates like Jamon Serrano Fermin, Mussels en Escabeche, and Chorizo with Pickled Peppers. Guests can also nibble on a variety of queso and condiments like Can Blau (Goat) with salted granola, Puig Pedros (Cow) with marconas con azafrin (marcona almonds with saffron), and Malvarosa (Sheep) with fennel honey. And don’t forget dessert. Choose between two decadent dishes – Flan or Churros y Chocolate. Pair your meal with a nice Spanish Tempranillo and you’re all set.
If you’re looking for traditional tapas like grandma used to make then head over to the newly opened Oovina restaurant. Executive Chef and Owner, Giovanni Morales, highlights small plates inspired by his own grandmother’s recipes using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. A few standouts include Arroz con Chorizo with housemade jalapeno sausage, Crisped Pork Loin Tacos with avocado aioli, and Pan Seared Scallops with bacon, artichokes, olives, and herbed butter. Make sure to order the Rellenitos Colocha, a sweet plantain stuffed with sugar-cinnamon black bean puree and topped with a caramel reduction – a true Guatemalan dessert! Can’t decide what to order? Try the Chef’s Tasting Menu ($50), a 5-course meal which includes four tapas and one dessert.
Chef Jesus Martinez prepares a wide variety of Tapas at Alcala Restaurant using fresh ingredients and the rich influences of the Mediterranean diet. Start your meal off with traditional Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish omelet with potatoes and onions), Croquetas (Serrano ham and codfish croquettes), or Ensalada de Atun Fresco (fresh tuna salad with Piquillo peppers and mixed greens). If you have a larger group, order the Plato Campero ($15) and enjoy an assortment of Spanish charcuterie including Serrano ham, cured Chorizo, Salchichon and Lomo with tomato spread bread. Pick out one of their many varieties of wines and cava from Spain and enjoy your meal.
Stop into Boqueria and enjoy a menu of meats and cheeses, tapas, and traditional Spanish desserts. Their Tabla de Quesos y Embutidos ($28) is available all day and is filled with Manchego, Cana de Cabra, Jamon Serrano, Chorizo Iberico, olives, pan con tomate, and raisin walnut bread. Their Piquillos Rellenos ($16) are decadently stuffed with braised oxtail and served with celery root puree, shallots, and red wine jus while the Paella de Mariscos is perfect for the seafood lover as it’s overflowing with monkfish, sepia, squid, shrimp, clams, mussels, bomba rice, saffron, and salsa verde. Stick around a little longer because they’ve got Churros con Chocolate and Churros Rellenos (churros filled with Nutella) that are not to be missed.
Huertas is the place you dine at when you’re craving traditional Basque tapas. Nosh on pintxos (Basque bites) like Foie Gras and Honeycrisp or Deviled Clam Toast before moving onto raciones. These include Batatas (sweet potatoes, goat cheese, red onion, pepitas), Migas (cabbage, bacon, apple, fried egg, croutons), and Gambas (spot prawns, garlic, parsley). If you’re really hungry, definitely order the Lubina al la Sal ($39) – whole salt roasted Loup de Mer Salpicon with romesco and aioli verde. Pair your meal with one of their fun cocktails like the San Sebastian – barrel aged gin house red vermouth, Atxa sweet vermouth, Spanish brandy, calvados, and bitters – or keep it simple with a glass of red refrescos (red wine & coke). Make sure to check out their Spanish Feasts menu, which is served family style Sunday – Thursday nights ($36/person).