Take a tapas tour through the best Spanish spots in New York City
What better way to food tour than with tapas? Small plates mean you can taste everything on offer without stuffing your face, and they're perfect for sharing. Then you and your tapas touring crew can lighten up the eating with wine and classic Spanish sangria along the way. Even in big, bad New York City, you can still wander your way (and walk off the calories) through a tasty tapas tour.
Start off your tour with a staple of New York City eating, let alone the local tapas scene. Casa Mono is a famous Mario Batali spot that takes a daring approach to tapas in this town. You could ease your way in with classic pan con tomate, bread rubbed with garlic and tomato the way they do in Spain. Or jump right in to lamb's tongue, sweetbreads, and foie gras. If Casa Mono is packed, dip into Bar Jamon right next door — the wine bar also serves tapas and puts together a mean cheese plate with al the Spanish classics.
Alta's beautiful wooden bar is set in a cozy entrance hall, and you can sip Spanish beers and wines or tasty cocktails while you embark on your tapas adventure. If you really want to up the magic, step into the dimly lit dining room laid across two floors of a split-level atrium, converted from the original West Village brownstone. Dig into the most delicious croquetas around, or cherry pick from a huge menu of delectable Mediterranean-inspired tapas.
Tertulia's menu boasts delicious Catalan-style tapas in the classic style, but you'd do well to stumble in just for the selection of meats and cheeses. You can sip authentic cavas from Catalunya over a spread of snacks, or if you're ready for something heavier dip into a full paella dinner. It's hard not to indulge at Tertulia, so it's no surprise how quickly this has become a neighborhood favorite for tapas at all hours.
If you're ready for a more intimate spot to relax at this stage of your tapas tour, Las Ramblas is the perfect spot. With just a few tables and bar seats, Las Ramblas is a cozy restaurant where you'll really get to know your neighbors and the staff. Taste Spanish beers on tap or drink wines the Catalana way, and take your pick between staples of Spanish tapas like patatas bravas and gambas al ajillo, or go for something more adventurous with specials that range from lamb to ostrich and change daily.
Shake things up with a menu mostly inspired by the baked dish delicacies of the Basque Country. Cocotte wouldn't necessarily call itself a tapas spot, but you can still share your heart out. There are plenty of appetizers and small plates to satisfy the tapas taste buds you've been refining over the course of the tour. Watch your head as you dip inside—Cocotte is a downstairs spot on Thompson street where you'll have to get comfortable with your pals and neighbors to squeeze in on a busy night.
We round out the tapas tour with another staple of Iberian fine dining in NYC. Boqueria actually has two locations, but you won't go wrong at either. There are plenty of tapas on the menu here to satisfy the vegetarians in your crew, and of course classic meats and fish dishes that will please the more carnivorous among you. The paella here will force you to share since there's a two-person minimum per order, but the classic styles and delicious flavors are to die for, especially if you've saved paella for last on your epic tapas tour.
Chloe Olewitz is a born and raised New Yorker. Her writing has been published in Format Magazine, Digital Trends, The Coffeelicious, and more. Find her work online at chloeolewitz.com.