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TAPAS: Taking Boston by storm

Tapas, the sophisticated, ‘Spanish’ way to eat small plates of finger-food, is taking the city by storm. With the recent opening of Casa B, Kika Tapas, and the forthcoming opening of a new spot in Washington Square (plus the expansion of Taberno de Haro), Bostonians will be spoilt for choice. Here’s a roundup of some popular Tapas spots:

Tapeo 

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Since opening in 1994, the cozy Newbury Street enclave has remained popular with its
authentic offerings, served on azure tables that complement those shiny tile-covered floors. Diners frequent the Tapas veteran for staples like Patatas Bravas ($6.50): baby potatoes, piquant tomato and alioli, or Gambas al Ajillo ($9.50), a sizzling plate of garlic shrimp. Alternatively, it can also be stuffed with crabmeat in piquillo pepper, laced with langostino sauce in perhaps the restaurant’s most revered dish: Pimento Do Piquillo ($9.50). For heavier dishes, we suggest skipping the paella and going instead for pan-roasted baby lamb-chops with apricot sauce (Chuletillas, $12.50). 266 Newbury Street, Boston 02116, 617-267-4799, www.tapeo.com

Dali 

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Photo Credit: TastedMenu

The old guard hidden away at Somerville’s outskirts has over 20-years under its belt, yet the waitstaff remain as spirited as ever: ‘dancing’ diners to their tables, coaxing them into singing along salsa tunes. Theatrics aside, Dali serves enticing dishes and will impress even the most finicky vegetarians. Diner favorites include baked goat-cheese with tomato and basil (Queso de Cabra Montanes, $7.50), and Setas al Ajillo, or sauteed “meaty” mushrooms ($7), with Albondigas de Cordero (lamb meatballs with tomato and mint sauce) as an option for carnivores ($7.5). Invention is yet another hallmark of Dali, as one of their most successful creations is Gorditas, a sweet-salty dish of bacon-wrapped prunes, stuffed with goat cheese and almonds ($6). 415 Washington Street, Somerville MA 02143, 617-661-3254, www.dalirestaurant.com

Estragon 

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Photo Credit: Ambrose C., yelp.com

Husband and wife team Julio de Haro and Lara Gavigan mixes the new and old, serving tried and tested family recipes at South End’s swanky art-deco eatery. The simplest dishes are often diner favorites, from Chorizo ($7): grilled blood-sausage with roasted red peppers on toast, to braised beef cheeks with Rioja reduction (Carrillada de Buey, $13). Equally noteworthy are the crisp paprika chickpeas (Garbanzos Fritos, $5), which make for a toothsome bar-snack before the feast arrives. 700 Harrison Ave, Boston 02118, 617-266-0443, www.estragontapas.com

Toro 

Ken Oringer and Jamie Bisonnette are not to be trifled with. Their upscale rendition of the classics consistently draw hour-long waits every night — thanks to their notorious no-reservations policy — and its obvious to see why. Rarely does one serve foie gras for tapas; here, it’s pressed into torchon and sweetened with blood orange, maple crumble, and smoked hazelnuts. Crispy pork belly with roasted pumpkin puree, snails, and pickled apples (panza de Cerdo, $13) are yet another speciality, as is Navajas a la Plancha ($14) — seared razor-clams with lemon, garlic, and piquillo pepper. And creamed corn? The duo’s take on the Midwestern staple is a heavenly combination of grilled corn, alioli, lime, espelette pepper, and aged cheese ($8). 1704 Washington Street, Boston 02118, 617-536-4300, toro-restaurant.com

Kika 

The new kid on the block’s got the Solea and Tapeo seal of approval — they’re all part of the same group — but still has a few kinks to work out. Beyond the mod-chic decor is a underwhelming spread of old tapas standards: the Gambas Al Ajillo ($9), for example, disappoints with limp prawns that lack smokiness and sear, while Chorizo sausage ($8.5) is equally as lackluster. Fortunately, Tortilla Espanola ($5) a potato and onion omelette, and Alcahofas Salteadas (sauteed artichokes) ($8) are saving graces. 350 3rd Street, Watermark Building, Cambridge 02142, 617-245-6030, kikatapas.com

Taberna de Haro 

Taking cue from Madrid’s tabernas — chef-owner Deborah Hansen spent 8 years in the country — is this quaint Beacon Street eatery with an extensive tapas menu and wine list (over 250 varieties). Share the Queso de Cabra ($5), or bread heaped with jamon, goat cheese, and a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, followed by deep fried croquettes of bechamel and cured ham ($9). Equally as popular are the mussels simmered in a thick broth of almond, tomato, and garlic (Mejillones en Salsa Romescu, $15), which also make for an addicting dipping sauce for bread. But don’t stop there — diners have sworn by Trufas Porreras, a Taberna original of homemade dark-chocolate truffles garnished with extra-virgin olive oil and dusted with cocoa and sea-salt. 999 Beacon Street, Brookline 02446, 617-277-8272, www.tabernaboston.com

Casa B 

Co-owners Alberto and Angelina, formerly architects, turned to the restaurant industry, breathing new life into tired Somerville with a tapas hangout housed in a beautiful, subterranean space. Their Latin-American focused menu is nearly as successful, with nifty plates like Yucca with paprika sauce ($8) and a beef tenderloin sandwich  with sauteed onions and crispy shallots ($9). That’s not to say that Spanish staples are out of the picture. Chorizo sausage may either be ordered with yucca in coconut sauce, or as a roasted pepper “spider” with goat cheese, both $9. These are all modestly portioned to make room for dessert. Tres Leches ($10), a sponge cake layered with condensed, evaporated, and cream milk, topped with meringue over chocolate sauce, sounds enticing. In fact, it may just be the best in Boston. 253 Washington Street, Somerville 02143, 617-764-2180, www.casabrestaurant.com

Tres Gatos 

Ever heard of a book-store, record-shop and tapas bar rolled into one hangout spot? Seems like a bizarre combination, but it has worked wonders for Tres Gatos, the only one of its kind in Boston. Food thankfully remains the focus, as the menu is faithful to proper Barcelona staples. Naturally, Patatas Bravas ($6) is a must: their version pairs Yukon Gold potatoes with aioli and salsa bravas. Otherwise opt for the highly venerated Albondigas ($10), melange of Moroccan-spiced lamb meatballs on grilled country toast, or lentil salad ($9), a heady mix of Eva’s greens, grilled halloumi cheese, and lemon vinaigrette. 470 Center Street, Jamaica Plain 02130, 617-477-4851, tresgatosjp.com

– Jon Cheng

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. insidethehub #

    So glad to see Estragon on this list! One of the best tapas meals I’ve had was there during Restaurant Week in the spring.

    October 24, 2012
  2. Velia Lucchetti #

    Lentils are also commonly used in Ethiopia in a stew-like dish called kik, or kik wot, one of the dishes people eat with Ethiopia’s national food, injera flat bread. Yellow lentils are used to make a nonspicy stew, which is one of the first solid foods Ethiopian women feed their babies..:’..

    http://www.healthfitnessbook.comWith best thoughts

    May 25, 2013

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