In an effort to eat healthier, and of course, explore new restaurants in NYC, I’ve been on a tapas kick that has lead me to a few delicious hot spots. Tapas are small plates, or “snacks” traditionally part of Spanish cuisine. Tapas-style meals are a great way to try small portions of different dishes, rather than gorging on a giant entrée and feeling obligated to finish it (or just unable to stop…).
Tapas also make for a fun a date, especially for food-lovers like myself who can engage in conversation all night about the deliciousness in front of me. The dishes tend to be much more unique and experimental, with some very unexpected flavor combos.
Here are some of the yummy spots I’d recommend to get started on your trip to tapas-land:
Located near Union Square, Pipa is a hopping tapas joint with Spanish flair. I lack the foresight to make reservations, so we ate at the communal table in the cocktail area. It was a bit tight, but the delicious dishes more than made up for it. Pipa is known for the boutique chandeliers above the entire restaurant, which are for sale if you’ve got a few thousand to spare. For those less spendy types, three dishes is more than filling for two and only ran us $45.00 each, including 2 glasses of wine. Wowza.
Bistec flatbread: The combination of juicy skirt steak with tart goat cheese and spicy jalapeno is amazing.
Catalan spinach: A tasty way to get your daily serving of veggies: sautéed spinach over figs.
Champinones croquetas: Tiny balls of fried goodness stuffed with mushrooms. It may not be on the diet, but if you eat them fast enough no one will notice.
2. ABC Kitchen
Right next door to Pipa, this is another trendy spot, more focused on local organic fare. The décor, courtesy of ABC Homes, is elegant, chic and oh-so-romantic. Reservations are also recommended, so (again) we sat in the cocktail area towards the back. Same great prices as Pipa. Sure, you can run up a hefty tab if you’d like, but there’s no need to spend a fortune since a few dishes is plenty for two.
Crab toast: One of my absolute favorite dishes of all time… MUST-HAVE.
Brussel sprouts with rosemary: Delish and healthy, to boot.
3. The Vanderbilt
This is my first review of any Brooklyn establishment, and I’m happy to report it was well worth the subway ride. A low-key but classy neighborhood bar/restaurant with a slew of hipster Brooklynites and friendly staff, plus delicious local brews on tap. The menu features dishes you wouldn’t expect to find in an average gastropub, including housemade sausages, pickles, and pickled eggs to name a few.
Mussels: Okay, I admit I am not a mussels fan so Heather took the lead on this one. But I DID find the homemade spicy sausage on top to be incredibly juicy and flavorful. Plus, the dish included FOUR crusty pieces of bread for tipping. Heaven.