Category Archives: Spanish

Da Li

My wife and I have walked by this tapas bar that turns clubby at night a hundred times, and we have always wanted to go in. This time, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Their $10 martini during happy hour was perfect.

We also tried some of their tapas menu, which was also discounted (basically two-for-one).

We will definitely be back to try more!

DA LI
37 Market St.
New York, NY 10002

Bad Hombre

First, check out my Ride & Review HERE:

Amigo is now Bad Hombre! Ruben transformed the space and made it absolutely gorgeous inside.

What an amazing bar, matched by amazing cocktails.

We basically tried the entire menu, except for a few items here and there. As is common with Ruben’s restaurants, everything was off the charts delicious. These were some of the best, most delicious oysters I’ve ever had.

This scallop crudo was a great balance of natural sweetness with some seasoned heat.

Shrimp and octopus aguachile? HELL YES! The octopus here was cooked perfectly.

This corn gratin dip was a nice combo of sweet and heat too. It may not look like much, but it packed a wallop of flavor.

We tried three different tortilla based items: shrimp tacos, a fish tostada, and a mushroom quesadilla. I am hard pressed to choose a favorite among these, but I think the mushroom was a real standout to me. Much like the mushroom carpaccio at Nai and Emelia. A true winner.

The grilled octopus here was absolutely gorgeous, and the black bean puree sauce hits you with some Indian and middle eastern spices that will blow you away.

I could not resist the chimichurri skirt steak. Delicious!

These St. Louis ribs fell apart when I picked them up. So friggin’ tender! They were cooked confit style and glazed with soy and sesame.

But honestly, I was caught off guard by how insanely tasty these crispy habanero aioli Brussels sprouts were. I could eat them every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of them.

Dessert was also a home run. The chocolate mousse with sea salt flakes was rich without being heavy. It was fluffy and extremely well balanced – not too sweet.

This semi-frozen panna cotta with pineapple granita was so creamy and delicious too. What an understated and gentle but powerful flavor bomb!

I can not wait to go back here for more meals. Everything Ruben touches is incredible.

BAD HOMBRE
29 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10003

Cellar 36

First, check out my Ride & Review video HERE:

Cellar 36 is a small wine and tapas bar located in Chinatown owned and operated by the same folks behind The Ten Bells, which I love. Like Ten Bells, Cellar 36 offers a great happy hour deal that includes $20 carafes and $1 oysters. We went for it.

I definitely recommend this spot, and I’ll definitely be back!

Cellar 36
36 Market St
New York, NY 10002

Carlota

First, check out my Ride & Review video HERE:

Carlota is a small tapas and vermouth bar on Orchard just above Canal. It’s a great spot for sips and snacks, and it’s a sister restaurant to Bar Belly, just next door.

We tried a lot of stuff, so there’s a photo dump below. Everything we had was excellent.

Here’s the menu:

Jamon and Tomato Bread to begin:

These squid ink croquettes were killer.

Cockles with chorizo – get extra bread for that amazing broth.

Awesome lamb chops.

Delicious taters.

And Basque style cheesecake was on the house!

Next time I want to try the chorizo sandwich.

CARLOTA
14 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002

Tomino Taberna Gallega

First off, check out my Ride & Review video HERE:

My wife took me here for my birthday to try the Vaca Vieja (old dairy cow, popular in Spanish food). Here’s what we had:

Empanada with octopus and cheese inside. Really nice. The crust reminded me of pot pie dough.

Fried squid on a bed of fried zucchini. This was excellent!

Mussels with a pimento broth.

Wild mushrooms with sliced grapes and goat cheese. Totally unique and delicious.

As a mid-course we had this “Bomba Rice” with squid ink and squid, both on top and mixed into the rice. Amazing.

The steak was a cry-aged 38oz tomahawk for just $108. Crazy! This would be over $160 in a midtown steak joint.

It came with fries too, which were awesome.

The steak had both great flavor and great aroma, and was probably the best version of Vaca Vieja I’ve had so far.

I give this an 8/10 because it was slightly overcooked on the outside and slightly undercooked on the inside.

Dessert was a crepe filled with berry cream and served with yogurt ice cream. Really nice and refreshing.

I will definitely be back here again. I should note that they also have a great selection of Spanish imported beer.

TOMINO TABERNA GALLEGA
192 Grand St
New York, NY 10013

Ernesto’s

I finally made it over to Ernesto’s! I’m happy this place is really close to home. Check out my Ride & Review video HERE first, and then read on below.

Firstly, the cocktails here are excellent! A bit pricey at $18, but worth it for the skill and flavors.

We tried a bunch of starters. Everything was excellent, but the stand-outs were the croquettes, the squid, the anchovies and the tripe.

Potato Tortilla:

Croquette:

Asparagus Carbonara:

Fried Squid:

Anchovies:

Tripe:

They didn’t have the txuleta (vaca vieja) special on this trip, so we went with the rabbit rice and the blood sausage. Both were great, but we preferred the blood sausage out of the two. It was light and refreshing, which was a complete surprise to us. Blood sausage is usually so heavy!

For dessert we had flan and Basque style cheesecake. Between the two, the cheesecake was the winner.

I will definitely be back here to try the steak when they have it on special again.

ERNESTO’S
259 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002

Kobo by Nai

The best way to get a feel for this restaurant is to watch my Ride & Review video on YouTube:

But for the traditionalists out there, here’s a breakdown of everything we had:

STARTERS

1. Oysters

These were beautifully presented.

2. Croquettes

Seriously delicious and addictive. The outer shell is thin and crispy, and inside is a delicious explosion of high end Spanish ham and cheese.

3. Mortadella

Yes. With some creamy ricotta on the bottom, this really took the starters over the top.

4. Iberico Ham

This was some seriously high quality stuff. Melts in your mouth!

PASTA

1. Cavatelli

I really dig this spicy beef version of my favorite pasta style, cavatelli.

2. Pappardelle

Probably one of the top three dishes of the night. The Iberico pork ragu was nuts!

3. Curry Lamb Bechamel Lasagna

This is a game changer! Make sure you get this. If you like cumin lamb szechuan noodles, you will love this Italian take on it.

4. Fideua

This squid ink “pasta paella” was my favorite dish of the night. The squid was perfectly cooked, and the pasta was so tasty.

MEAT MAINS

1. Iberico Pork Meatballs

This works as a shared starter too, but I could eat this every day. This is also top three of the meal.

2. Short Rib

So tender and flavorful. Ruben does a similar dish at his other restaurants and all of them are great.

3. Chicken Milanese

This could benefit from a slightly flatter pounding, but there was a sweetness to this from either apricot or honey that was incredible.

SEAFOOD MAINS

1. Whole Fish

Perfectly deboned and beautifully presented.

2. Mussels

Save some sourdough bread to drag through the deeply flavorful sauce that comes with the perfectly cooked mussels.

3. Shrimp

These Spanish style garlic and spicy oil shrimp were absolutely perfect.

VEG

We had the broccolini with Romesco sauce. Even the veg here is off the charts good.

The radicchio salad was also really nice, with poached pears and walnuts.

I’ve said it before with Nai, Emilia and Amigo: Ruben deserves a Michelin star at his restaurants. Everything he puts out is delicious and innovative. He’s one of the city’s most under the radar chefs. So much talent! I highly recommend all four of his restaurants.

KOBO BY NAI
202 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009

Emilia by Nai

Once again my friend Ruben absolutely nails it with his third restaurant, Emilia. Check out this quick video of some of the dishes we tried:

I can’t wait to go back and try more stuff. He is still in the process of perfecting the burger (he’s working on the bun), so I’ll definitely try that again.

Favorite items so far: artichoke with soy cured egg and crispy sunchokes, red snapper, and monkfish liver mousse.

EMILIA BY NAI
174 1st Ave.
New York, NY 10009

Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres

This high end tapas restaurant serves some of the best Spanish food I’ve had outside of Spain. Jose Andres really deserves all the praise he gets.

We started with some nice cocktails, which, in hindsight, I wish we had at the bar downstairs (Bar Mar), instead of at our table.

In any case, great cocktails!

For the smaller bites we tried, the stars were Jose’s Tacos (jamon with nori taco shell and caviar), and the tartare in a fried shiso leaf.

The Philly cheesesteak bites were nice too.

For medium sized courses, we had the Spanish octopus and fideua (paella made with pasta instead of rice). That squid ink sauce was outstanding, and it might have been the best dish of the entire trip to Chicago.

For our main, we had the 32oz aged domestic wagyu “chuleton” rib eye. It was slightly overcooked on the edges, and for being something like 100+ days dry aged, I didn’t get much of that flavor. It was really tender and tasty though. 8/10.

This came with a side of delicious whipped potatoes. So smooth.

For dessert, we had their delicious honey cake with grapefruit sorbet. They even stenciled the words “Happy Birthday” onto the plate for us.

A very pricey meal, but delicious!

BAZAAR MEAT
20 N Upper Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60606

Wildair

I popped into this joint with some friends mainly to try a domestic wagyu strip they recently put on the menu, but everything we had here was great. This place serves up smaller bites and tapas style dishes. Some of the highlights were the prawns, the potato cake with uni on top, the beef tartare and the stuffed chicken wings.

The star of the show was 24oz of 9/10 deliciousness. The “thrice cooked chips” that came with it were absolutely perfect.

The au poivre sauce really wasn’t needed, but both that and the roasted garlic really made the flavors pop.

For dessert, the mille feuille with cinnamon brown sugar cream was the big winner, but the mousse with granita and meringue was a nice way to cleanse the palate at the end of the meal.

WILDAIR
142 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002