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Best Tapas Bars in the Lower East Side, NYC

Best Tapas Bars in the Lower East Side, NYC

There's a reason why foodies from all over the city have fallen in love with Tapas Bar-style dining, in New York's Lower East Side.

Tapas are small plates rather than entree-sized portions of food and this sociable and friendly tradition has been imported to the tapas bars on New York's Lower East Side. Tapas, which originated in Spain, feature many ingredients that are an important part of the celebrated and healthy Mediterranean diet. Olives, fish, vegetables and olive oil all figure in the preparation of tapas. When you order tapas, you benefit from, not only a variety of choices but portion control as well.

No Fun - Lower East Side

No Fun restaurant and bar, featuring Dorante's Cocina, brings Mexican comfort food tapas to the Lower East Side. It's an exciting culinary concept. No Fun has been around since 2011. Its always been a venue for good times and great drinks. But they have recently re-invented the bar by bringing in executive chef Jose Dorante. Inspired by his Mom, who spent Sundays, teaching her son how to cook everything from enchiladas to tortillas, Jose turns out Mexican food that is authentic and delicious.

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Jose takes pride in the fact that his kitchen's ingredients are locally sourced and that his meats are hormone free and contain no antibiotics. Tapas (small plate) menu highlights include the Gringo Taco, which is stuffed with spiced up ground beef, cheddar cheese and pickles. You can also order a plate of street style Mexican corn with cotija cheese, cilantro and chili butter. And, of course, there's  the family recipe tacos, Jose's signature dish. Tacos come in several varieties including chicken, steak and avocado. They're filling and there is no skimping on the ingredients.

End the evening on a sweet note with a churro. They're made fresh with plenty of powdered sugar, and either chocolate or dulce de leche sauce. Bet you can't eat just one!

No Fun has a cocktail menu that is big time fun. Every sip is a delight and will get you in the mood to party. The Dumb Luck will refresh while it knocks your socks off. This potent cocktail consists of Jeremiah Weed sweet tea vodka, Lipton iced tea, a splash of fireball whiskey and fresh lemon juice.

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The name No Fun, is a tribute to one of the owner's favorite East Village bands, back in the day, Iggy Pop and the Stooges. "No Fun" was one of Iggy Pop's biggest hits. There's no limit to the fun that you can have at No Fun Bar. Party as late as you want while enjoying Jose Dorante's fantastic tapas.

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Location and Hours

161 Ludlow Street
New York, NY  10002
(212) 477-1616
www.nofun-nyc.com

Hours

Monday to Sunday 5 PM to 4 AM

Nai Tapas Bar - East Village,NYC

"Tradition, Inspiration and Innovation" is the motto of the folks at Nai Tapas Bar. The family who owns this superb tapas bar has a healthy respect for traditional tapas, but they spice things up with a touch of contemporary creativity.

Tapas are based on a family recipe that was handed down from the grandmother of the current chef Ana Maria Gonzalez Arias. Ana Maria is the straw that stirs the drink here at Nai. She wants customers to feel that her tapas bar is their home away from home. In essence, that you are part of her extended family. But few, families have ever had a kitchen that produced dishes as exquisitely delicious as what comes out of And Maria's domain.

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Croquettes are a mainstay of tapas bars and they do a wonderful job here re-interpreting this classic dish. Choices include Serrano ham, chicken, cheese and the chef's croquette of the day. Other options that will tempt your palate are the avocado stuffed with crab meat, the imported olive plate, escargot in house sauce and potatoes that are basted in a creamy garlic aioli sauce. Sardines and octopus are also can't miss options. Any of the above would go great with a pitcher of the to die for sangria. On Fridays and Saturdays, take in a lively Flamenco show. The five piece band and professional dancers will have you up on your feet, clapping along with the music!

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The owners hail from the region of Galicia. In their regional dialect, Nai means mother. You will feel as though your own mom was cooking for you. That's how good the tapas are here.

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Location and Hours

174 First Avenue
New York, NY 10009
(212) 677-1030
www.naitapasnyc.com

Hours

Mon-Wed    5 PM to 11 PM
Thurs-Sat  5 PM to 12 AM
Sunday     2 PM to  10 PM

Balzem - Nolita, NYC

Whenever you are in the mood for a nice glass of wine and some very tasty tapas and mezze plates, look no further than Balzem. Trendy and uber-chic without being, in the least pretentious, Balzem has been the scene of numerous fashion photo shoots and movies. This wine and tapas bar provides a very suitable backdrop for date night. Romance is definitely in the air at Balzem.

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But the biggest attraction by far, is their delicious food. Dips include the spicy feta (with walnuts, spices, cucumber and dill) and their signature artichoke dip, which consists of shrimp, spinach, and gruyere cheese. They also have Phyllo rolls that are filled with Feta and parsley. Other tapas that will capture your imagination include light and fluffy Zucchini pancakes, Truffle Mac and Cheese, Italian meatballs, grilled Portobello mushrooms and a tasty roasted eggplant dish.

The kitchen's signature dish, however, is Manti. These are authentic and mouth watering Turkish beef dumplings with yogurt, a hint of butter and herbs. Regulars rave about the seared tuna tapas with capers and olive dressing. Other patrons, though, will tell you that the best thing on the menu has to be the Branzini ceviche.

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They couldn't do this dish any better, even in a Barcelona tapas bar. Balzem has an extensive wine list with something for everyone from the discerning  wine  expert to a couple who just want to celebrate the night over a glass of red or white.

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Location and Hours

202 Mott Street
New York, NY 10012
(646) 837-7033
www.balzem.com

Hours

Mon to Wed  11:30 AM to 12 AM
Thurs-Fri   11:30 AM to 1 AM
Saturday    11 AM to 1 AM
Sunday      11 AM to 12 AM

The Ten Bells - Lower East Side, NYC

There's a cozy, comfortable pub-like feel to the ten bells. Charming and intimate are the words that regulars use to describe this personality and tapas driven wine bar. You just feel good hanging out here. As an added attraction, Ten Bells may just have the best Oyster happy hour going, in a city that has no shortage of such deals. To start with, the oysters are only a dollar each and they are top quality, so fresh and juicy. Happy Hour takes place every day, from opening to 7 PM. A carafe of wine, (red, white or rose) is available for fifteen dollars, a real bargain.

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The house wine list is comprised of natural wines that are produced from organic or bio dynamic grapes. Ten Bells deals exclusively with small, boutique vineyards. The kitchen works hard at creating tapas plates that will complement your glass of vino. This is a jazzed up version of the standard tapas menu that you'll find all around town. Unique and tasty tapas creations include a divine Shiitake mushroom and shrimp salad, hand-cut steak tartar, foie gras terrine, raclette tartine with pear radish pesto and an awe inspiring mushroom casserole. The pulled pork sandwich and watermelon with feta plate have also earned great customer reviews.

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In the time-honored tradition of Spain's tapas bars, Ten Bells offers a beautifully put together plate of cheese and charcuterie. The cheeses are local, from New York and Vermont farms. Meat selections include pate de campagne, sopressata and imported Serrano ham.

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Location and Hours

247 Broome Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 228-4450
www.tenbellsnyc.com

Hours

Monday-Friday   5 PM to 2 AM
Saturday-Sunday 3 PM to 2 AM

Pata Negra - East Village, NYC

Pata Negra provides you with a keeping it real, authentic Spanish tapas experience. This is not something that is, in any way, watered down for New Yorkers. The place is rather small, but the tables do have enough space between them, so you don't feel as though you are on top of your neighbors at the next table. The ambiance is rustic and the staff friendly. If you were traveling through the Spanish countryside you would, no doubt, come across many tapas bars like Pata Negra. And you will relish every minute that you spend at this Lower East Side favorite.

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Pata Negra has an extensive list of Sherry and wine. Sherry, by the way, is a fortified, aged wine that is made from the white grapes grown in the Andalucian region of Spain. Once the wines are fermented, a grape spirit is added, which increases the wine's alcohol level. They offer several varieties of cured Spanish ham, such as the Pata Negra (acorn fed cured ham) and Jamon Iberico  which comes from grass and acorn fed animals. The dates wrapped in Jamon with apple puree are the kitchen's signature dish.

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Many of their small plates feature chorizo and Manchego cheese combinations. If you're a vegetarian, you won't feel left out at Pata Negra. You'll savor the Cannelloni de Setas, which blends mushrooms with bechamel and their Tortilla which is filled with egg, potato and onions. Treasures from El Mar (the sea) are bountiful and delicious. The kitchen does a great job with the staple Spanish Boquerones tapas. It's just anchovies and tapenade but the flavors are simply outstanding.

Location and Hours

345 East 12th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-1696
www.patanegratapas.com

Hours

Tue-Thur  5 PM to 11 PM
Fri-Sat   5 PM to 1 AM
Sunday    5 PM to 11 PM

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