Seems like everyone has jumped on the tapas bandwagon nowadays, or to be more precise, “small plates.” You can’t call something tapas just because it’s a small serving, served on an equally small plate. The term tapas is used too loosely in the Americas. It often lacks the authenticity of the country that inspired it.
The term tapas originally comes from Spain and is generally served as a quick meal at lunch time, or served with wine and sangria for a late dinner. I could probably live off of olives, meats, cheeses, and wine alone. There are just a handful of good places in town to pick up some decent and authentic tapas. One of my favorites is Tasca on 3rd St, right down the street from the Farmer’s Market.
Once inside, off the hustle and bustle of the busy intersection of 3rd and Crescent Heights, you could be deep inside the Gothic District of Barcelona, inside one of your favorite neighborhood bars. Tasca is rustic and quaint, welcoming you up to the bar with aromas of wine, deep fried croquets, jamon, manchengo and quince plates.
We got here early to enjoy some tapas during their happy hour, for which they serve smaller portions of their tapas for less than half the price of their normal menu till 7:30pm every night, or all night on Sundays and Mondays. Talk about recession busters, these tapas run from only $2.50 to $5 per. They also feature a few beer, sangria and wine specials for around 5 bucks. It’s a great place to slow down life a little and enjoy a few small bites and drinks with friends on the cheap.
Their happy hour menu contains Spanish traditional tapas like Bunuelo de Bacalo, a salted cod croquette with romesco sauce or Gambas Al Ajillo, fresh shrimp served in a deep orange colored garlic sauce. The calamari, are massive, plump rings, lightly fried and served with a spicy remoulade. The Tortilla Espanola, a favorite from our trip to Spain, is delightfully authentic as they come. Not on the happy hour menu, but worth the diversion, is the Arancini. A deep fried ball of gorgeous risotto,wild mushrooms, and infused with just a dash of truffle oil.
There is no way to go through the entire menu in one sitting, which sort of defeats the purpose of tapas anyway. But no matter, you will want to come back again and again just to try all the different tapas. They’ve got a few larger plates as well for those of you who don’t like to share. The full menu can be seen here.