Best Tapas Restaurants - Manhattan East, NYC
Over the past few years, some really great tapas bars and restaurants have been making tremendous inroads on NYC's East Side culinary scene.
For centuries, tapas cafes have been a staple in cities like Madrid and Barcelona. After a long day of work, friends and family gather together in their neighborhood tapas place for some great food, lively conversation and, of course, a few glasses of wine. Tapas dining is a way of life in Spain. And now, tradition meets contemporary cuisine at the East Side's cool tapas bars and restaurants.
Incorporating some of the best elements of the famous Mediterranean diet, tapas are a relatively healthy and light meal. Unlike many entree dishes, tapas are small bites that won't leave you feeling bloated and heavy after you eat. And there is nothing better than enjoying Happy Hour or having a fun dinner and tasting a little of this and a little bit of that, at these great East Side Manhattan restaurants.
La Fonda Del Sol - Midtown, NYC
Just steps from the iconic New York landmark, Grand Central Station, La Fonda Del Sol offers a fresh, vibrant take on traditional Spanish cuisine. Chef Josh DeChellis respects the traditional style of preparing tapas selections, yet he is not afraid to take chances and place his own signature on the dish. Recently, Chef Josh appeared on NBC's Today Show and showed host Al Roker just how he works his magic in the kitchen.
Indulge your senses in the restaurant's sleek tapas bar. Fish, poultry, beef, veggies and whatever else you are in the mood for is available at their tapas bar. Their tomato bread, Spain's take on Foccacia, would be a good place to start. It's a nice wedge of fresh country bread, topped with grated tomato and olive oil. Chef's Spanish Octopus VBX dish consists of a generous portion of octopus, with potatoes, pimenton and a touch of sea salt.
Tapas plates like imported, cured Spanish Chorizo, ceviche of shrimp, avocado and tomatoes or an Empanada stuffed with with spicy chicken, manchego cheese and Piquillo peppers will complement a glass of Sangria or wine. At La Fonda Del Sol, you are invited to kick back and relax with an adult beverage, prepared by their master mixologists.
During the '60s, the original La Fonda Del Sol was a celebrity hangout, frequented by stars like Joe DiMaggio and Frank Sinatra. At its current location, inside the MetLife Building, La Fonda has re-created all of the glamour, energy and spirit that made the original restaurant a New York institution.
Location and hours :
44th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue (The MetLife Building)
New York NY
Hours: Tapas Lounge:
Monday-Friday: 11:30 AM to 10:30 PM
Mon-Fri. Lunch: 11:30 AM to 3 PM
Dinner: 5 PM to 10:30 PM
PIL PIL Upper East Side, NYC
At Pil Pil you will feel like you've been transported from the bustling streets of the Upper East Side, all the way to a quaint and cozy tapas bar somewhere in the Spanish countryside.
There is a welcoming, rustic vibe to the place and actual tree branches decorate the ceiling. You can't get more authentically rural than that. The bar itself is something that has to be seen to be believed. Get your phones ready to snap more than one picture. The rear wall, just behind the bar, is lined with shelves holding wine bottles that are illuminated in a rainbow of different colors. So very bright and trendy.
The kitchen definitely holds their own when it comes to competing with the colorful decor. Be prepared to have your imagination captured with tapas selections like Pimientos De Padron, Zucchini frito, Patatas Bravas (crispy potato nuggets) and Croquetas with a variety of fillings like Serrano Jamon, lobster, spinach and cheese.
Location and hours :
265 East 78th Street
New York, NY 10075
Mon-Wed: 4 PM to 12 AM
Thurs-Fri: 4 PM to 2 AM
Saturday: 3 PM to 2 AM
Sunday: 11:30 AM to 12 AM
Boqueria Upper East Side, NYC
Chef Marc Vidal is doing some very special things in his state-of-the-art kitchen at Boqueria UES. A native of Barcelona, Marc learned what it takes to be a chef and a team leader from his grandmother, who was the head chef at the family's very popular restaurant. It was while he worked in the restaurant's kitchen after school that Marc discovered his passion in life, cooking.
Chef Marc brought his strong sense of hospitality and creative culinary skills to Boqueria at the invitation of owner Yann De Rochefort. Yann and Marc derived their inspiration from visiting the finest tapas bars in Barcelona, places like Ciudad Condal and Vinya Del Senor. This dynamic and talented duo have succeeded in translating the authentic tapas bar experience from Barcelona to New York's Upper East Side.
The decor is cool and modern, while the ambiance is electric. The concept here is market fresh. It's simple, refreshing and it works. Every morning, Chef Marc's team purchases the freshest ingredients from local purveyors and farmers markets. This continues a tradition for Chef Marc that goes back years in his family. At Barcelona's famed Boqueria market, chefs, home cooks and tourists alike stroll through rows and rows of stalls packed with vegetables, olives, cured and freshly butchered meats. Everything is local and from surrounding farms.
Chef Marc and his grandmother were doing farm-to-table cooking long before it became a culinary buzzword. Chef's Queso (cheese) tapas are served with delicious walnut raisin bread. Meat lovers can indulge in savory Embutidos, like Fuet, a catalan-style pork sausage, or Jamones de Segovia and Serrano ham which has been aged for 18 months.
Signature tapas include the Datiles con Beicon and Patatas Bravas. If you and your friends are particularly hungry, order the Tabla de Embutidos, a succulent trio of Serrano ham, Sal Chichon Iberico and Chorizo, accompanied by a generous spread of olives and pan con tomate. This is, indeed, a feast on a plate that is suitable for the Spanish Royal family. And your family, as well.
Location and hours :
1460 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10075
Mon-Thurs: 12 PM to 10:30 PM
Friday: 12 PM to 11:30 PM
Saturday: 11 AM to 11:30 PM
Sunday: 11 AM to 10:30 PM
Yuca Bar Lower East Side, NYC
Yuca Bar and Restaurant has an eclectic and creative menu of Latin Fusion tapas and entrees, representing over a dozen countries from Brazil and Mexico to Spain. The decor is hip and trendy and very colorful, without being overbearing. During the warmer months, they have a little sidewalk cafe where you can people-watch to your heart's desire. During the winter, warmup inside with their savory dishes and do your people-watching through Yuca's large picture windows.
Yuca Bar combines delicious food with great value. On Loco Tuesdays, tapas are half-price until 8 PM. Sundays are Mexican Nite, with half-price Taquitos and Quesadillas. The Brazilians rule the night on Thursdays with $8 food and drink specials. Yuca also hosts a fantastic Happy Hour. The celebration goes from 1 to 8 PM every weekday, with $7 Mojitos, Caipirinhas and Margaritas. Glasses of wine and Sangria are yours for the asking at the very reasonable price of $6.
There is a lot happening here, including some very tasty Latin Fusion Tacos. The Platano Relleno consists of Sweet Plantains stuffed with roasted pork and drizzled in sour cream. Like your meat grilled with the perfect charcoal taste to it ? Then order-up the Pinchos Variados, a platter fully loaded with skewers of beef, chicken and chorizo. The meats are double-sauced with a passion fruit dressing and a smoky, guava BBQ sauce.
Vegetarians can also get their tapas fix on at Yuca. The menu has several first-rate veggie offerings such as the Quesadilla de Champignon: a delightful blend of wild mushrooms with smoked cheese, topped with piquillo peppers and crema.
Location and hours:
111 Avenue A
New York NY 10009
Mon-Thurs: 11 AM to 12 AM
Friday: 11 AM to 3 AM
Saturday: 10 AM to 3 AM
Sunday: 11 AM to 12 AM
Cata Lower East Side, NYC
Executive Chef Larry Baldwin first discovered the joys (and creative challenges) of tapas and Spanish cuisine when he worked as a sous chef for Mario Batali at Casa Mono. For years, many casual diners regarded tapas style dining as nothing more than a collection of appetizers consisting of hard-to-pronounce foreign meats and cheeses. The stereotype was that everything must be spicy. Well, chefs like Larry Baldwin, Andy Nusser and the aforementioned Mr. Batali did a great deal to change the perception of tapas and small-plate dining.
Cata is a Catalan cuisine inspired tapas restaurant with a menu that emphasizes green-market ingredients. The restaurant has a tremendous wow factor to it. The decor is industrial chic with a sleek, long, gorgeous tapas bar taking up one side of the restaurant. The visual wows start at the entrance. The door handles are a couple of huge, oversized keys. It's a bit eccentric, but its touches like this that make Cata such an interesting place to dine.
Chef Larry's tapas, however, are what will keep you coming back for more. The tapas are adventurous in both ingredients and taste and are well worth taking a chance on. Signature tapas plates include the duck pastrami, quail eggs Benedict, deviled eggs with fried oysters and the bacon-wrapped dates and olives. The best of the group, though, might just be Chef's superlative Bombas, which are ham, cheese and Potato Croquettes with Aioli and a just spicy enough tomato sauce.
Cauliflower is having its moment in restaurants across NYC. At Cata, the grilled Cauliflower steak comes with a Broccoli Jalapeno puree and aged cheddar. Chef's grilled corn is done up Catalan street-vendor-style, brushed with butter, topped with scallions and dressed with a splash of lime.
Location and hours :
New York, NY 10002
Mon-Thurs: 5:30 PM to 11 PM
Fri- Sat: 5:30 to 12:00 PM
Sunday: 5:30 to 10:30 PM
Tapeo 29 Lower East Side, NYC
The owners of Tapeo 29 were first introduced to Tapeos (tapas) on a trip to Spain. At Tapeos 29, they want to recapture the fun and festivity that they encountered in tapas bars across Spain. They had "the best time ever " in that wonderful Spanish Summer of 2003, and everyone from the chef to management wants you to feel those good times when you drink and dine here.
Tapeos 29 takes justifiable pride in the fact that all of their dips, sauces and food are handcrafted and made in small batches. They use only the freshest ingredients and strive to be as natural as possible, with an absolute minimal amount of processing. The kitchen won't use preservatives of any kind. Their lemon, lime and orange juices are all fresh squeezed. You can feel good about eating here.
The menu is full of surprises and tastes. Where can we start? How about the Tortilla Espanola? It is a classic blend of Spanish-style potatoes, onions and eggs confit, served with Chipotle aioli dip. Another great selection are the Boquerones, silver skin anchovy filets, traditionally marinated with extra virgin olive oil and parsley. The Ceviche De Pescado consists of wild Tilapia cured in fresh citrus juices and various (top secret) spices. Mussels come in Maradona, Drunken, Bombay and Sopranos style.
Chorizo al Vino gives you slices of prime, pan-seared sausages glazed in red wine, herbs and spices, while the Brochetas de Pollo are juicy, boneless, spice-rubbed chicken thighs. You can wash it all down with a pitcher of the Tapeo 29 Sangria, which is made with premium wine, zero simple sugars, fresh fruit and other all-natural ingredients.
Location and Hours:
29 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002
Mon-Thurs: 6 PM to 2 AM
Friday: 5 PM to 4 AM
Saturday: 11 AM to 4 AM
Sunday: 12 AM to 2 AM