Category Archives: Spanish

Tertulia

Tertulia’s PR reps knows what they’re doing because since it first opened, I can’t avoid reading or hearing about this place, touted as New York’s most popular Tapas restaurant of late. I avoided it for weeks for fear of having to wait for a table (and a fear of 6th Avenue in general), but after returning from Barcelona and reminiscing about tapas, I got a second wind to try it out. Last week was the perfect opportunity after abandoning my home for a straight week – I needed a real New York restaurant experience.

We ate a ton of food, and everything was mouth-watering from the sugar snap pea salad and heirloom tomatoes to the tiny bites of pig cheek with quail egg or crab salad on toast. And I can never get enough of pan con tomate, grilled bread rubbed with tomato. We also had a smoked trout with the skin fried separately – this along with the grilled calamari were two seafood dishes tomorrow. Finishing off with a dense chocolate tart, I was in serious heaven.

heirloom tomato salad

sugar snap pea salad

pig cheek and quali egg

pan con tomate

chocolate cake

Tapas are risky. You can often leave the restaurant still hungry, or feeling nauseated by the hoards of aioli on top of the fried foods. This was clean, beautifully executed, and hearty, and I will definitely be back again!

Grade: A
Location: 359 6th Avenue
Website
*photos from Yelp and Flickr

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Filed under Parents in Town, Spanish, Tapas

Alta

People assume that because I write a “food blog,” selecting restaurants comes easily to me. In actuality, it’s that much more difficult because my brain becomes overwhelmed by the possibilities and it’s so crucial to me that my visitors have a memorable time. After agonizing for weeks about where to bring my two friends from DC and making literally 7 reservations, I finally settled on Alta. I’ve been to Alta before, and though the food didn’t wow me, the idea of shared plates and great sangria motivated me to try it once more. I’m so glad I did, because after last night I have a totally renewed love for this place.

Where do I begin? The menu consists of what seems like hundreds of different options, all of which sound delicious – and “the whole shebang” can be purchased for a decent $480. Sadly, our group of four couldn’t handle the idea, but that didn’t stop us from ordering our hearts out.

Everything was delicious – the spinach and mascarpone bruschetta topped with turkish figs and balsamic was the first and my favorite thing to come out. After that, it was an outpour of mouth watering food: grilled shrimp and chorizo, eggplant dip and hummus, seared sea scallops with black truffles, pulled pork empanadas, striped bass, skirt steak with chimichurri, pizza with porcini cream and fontina cheese, fried goat cheese with lavendar honey, wild mushroom risotto, crispy brussels sprouts with fuji apple, and finally peanut baklava with caramel ice cream. The plates are sized for a table of four to have a good bite or two of each – any more than 5 people and I’d suggest doubling orders. After a few photos I had to put the camera down to keep up with the pace of the meal.

best bruschetta combo ever

risotto

deliciously creamy risotto

skirt steak

amazing brussels

empanadas

mushroom pizza

The food is not the only great thing about Alta – their drinks are strong, their sangria is not too sweet, and they allow you to order progressively,  as opposed to requiring that the full order be placed at once to rush you out as quickly as possible. I’m ecstatic that I have a new go-to place for a girls’ night out – but I recommend Alta for all occasions.

Grade: A+
Location: 64 West 10th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue
Website:
 www.altarestaurant.com

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Filed under Erin's Favorites, Fun Group Dinner, Mediterranean, Spanish

Yerba Buena – definitely a new favorite

My meal and experience at Yerba Buena Perry last night was excellent. In a nutshell, I had exceptionally friendly and accommodating service, incredible and inventive Latin American food, and an awesome time amidst the loud and inebriated tables surrounding me. In fact, it’s worth just coming here for the cocktails themselves – very rarely do I have trouble deciding which drink to pair with my food. Their long list of light, not overly sweet varietals could appeal to any cocktail palette.

I’m thrilled that I was finally able to locate a West Village restaurant with both impeccable service and food. While I would suggest waiting to order your courses after receiving your drinks (ours appetizers came out too soon), I can say that their waitstaff is likely to honor absolutely any request you may have. They’re incredibly friendly, that even after I had switched an appetizer choice just seconds after ordering, they brought the original one on the house, and get this – with a huge smile! Hence the order of croquettes below.
These were melt-in-your-mouth incredible. The lightest, crispiest version of fried food, the manchego cheese croquettes were a show-stopper. I’m so glad the waiter proceeded to bring them out despite canceling our order. Just as delicious was the vegetarian empanadas filled with spinach, manchego cheese, beside huge pieces of peruvian corn and a fig vinagrette. While some in the past have described these as pita pockets, I found them unique, flavorful, and deliciously cheesy. I loved the oversized kernels of peruvian corn on the plate, too.
The Yerba Buena salad, served with jicama, tomatoes, avocado and a sherry vinaigrette was very light and tangy – perfect as a refreshing appetizer and a great excuse to order carbs and proteins for the rest of your meal.
The meal got better as it progressed, though the entree portions could have been larger. The grilled black cod was amazing and served beside a wonderfully smooth and rich Peruvian corn puree. The cod itself tasted just like the cod you can find in Asian restaurants – buttery, soft, and delicate. I would definitely return to Yerba Buena just to have this again. The arroz con pollo also had somewhat of an Asian touch as well – the rice beneath the chicken tasted similar to Benihana Japanese rice, but was buttery, light, and deliciously garlicky nonetheless. The chicken, served with a generous portion of avocado salad, was quite tasty, but paled in comparison to the cod.
Overall, though, the entrees were awesome and I would recommend both to those planning to visit Yerba Buena. Dessert was also a hit, but then again, how can one fail with a Dulce de Leche sundae. Despite the big scoops of caramel ice cream, sprinkling of candied pecans and bananas, and heap of whipped cream, this dessert was surprisingly only delicately sweet, and not overpowering in the slightest. A great end to a consistently tasty meal.
Needless to say, I loved Yerba Buena Perry and would return in a heartbeat. It’s tough to find reservations here Thursdays through Sundays, but (patient) walk-in parties generally get lucky. It’s a perfect spot for a fun group dinner, or a date before going out on the town, but be prepared to talk louder than normal, as the space is quite small and crowded. Can’t wait to go back, and thank you Mike for supplying the meal!!
Address: 1 Perry Street at Greenwich Ave

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Filed under Drinks & Apps, Fun Group Dinner, Latin American, Sex & The City Swank, Spanish, West Village

Paladar – want to host a festive dinner on a budget?

I attribute finding this awesome restaurant to…myself. It was April 30th, my birthday was coming up, and I was looking to invite 8 or so friends to a restaurant with a fun and laid back environment, good food, large-group accommodations, and not-break the bank prices. I did extensive research online, and found Paladar – a lovely Mexican restaurant that seemed to fill every criteria I had. Vibrant atmosphere – brightly colored walls and funky latin music, awesome margaritas (drink 2 and you’re gone), great service, and…get this… a family style menu fit for a king at just $30 a person! By pre-ordering my choice of 3 delicious appetizers and 3 entrees, I was able to save the pain of having each individual order and divide the check accordingly. People came in knowing what they were eating and what they were paying – no surprises! Most importantly, the food was awesome! With such a great deal, I expected paltry portions or at least lack of flavor. But no, huge platters fit to feed at least 12 people filled the table, and not one of us left unfulfilled.

Choosing the pre-order menu was a tough job, but the manager I spoke to over the phone (just an hour before our reservation) patiently suggested all of his recommendations. For apps, I decided on Tacos de Pescado – marinated fish tacos with chipotle-lime glaze and mango salsa, an Ensalada Verde with mango & jicama, and a delicious wild mushroom quesadilla. They served huge plates of each and everyone was able to get a second helping if they needed. My only complaint would have to be that the fish in the fish tacos was a little tough, but all things considered they executed the family style plates perfectly. My fave was the mushroom quesadilla, and I could have ordered at least 10 other things from the menu and still been happy.

For main dishes, they have something for everyone. I played it safe and ordered a steak, a chicken, and a seafood. The carne asada came with an awesome salsa and a light green salad – and honestly the best yucca sticks I have ever tasted. The meat was excellent – buttery, tender, so flavorful – slightly charred on the outside but beautifully juicy and rare on the inside. The lime-chipotle marinated chicken was also a great staple for those a little less adventurous, and it came with potatoes and salad as well. Lastly, the market fish was served pan seared with garlic, lemon, chiles, and seasonal vegetables. It was definitely a step up from the fish in the tacos – I was sad to see so much extra food go to waste! The waiters even brought me a complimentary chocolate cake slice (though wasn’t too tasty, don’t order it).

All this great food accompanied by killer drinks, friendly & accommodating service, great company, and a fun-upbeat yet airy and comfortable atmosophere made my birthday the best. I will most definitely have my next large group dinner at Paladar, and will even consider it to get my Mexican craving fix with a smaller group. Don’t fear the Lower East Side – come check out Paladar!

Website: http://www.paladarrestaurant.com
Location: 161 Ludlow btwn East Houston and Stanton

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Filed under Affordable Date, Drinks & Apps, Fun Group Dinner, Latin American, Lower East Side, Spanish