Lena at Mercado Little Spain
Lena is a true gem. It is one of two standalone restaurants by Chef Jose Andres and his team at Mercado Little Spain that relies solely on fire. Wood-smoked meats are the stars with Catalan-style sausages with crunchy white beans, and grilled quail with romesco sauce. Even the oysters get a turn at the grill. Every imaginable part of the pig is offered, from the secret "butcher's cut" skirt steak to tender cheek served with olive oil mashed potatoes. A whole suckling pig for groups of six or more is also available for about five hundred dollars. Other dishes include a Spanish potato omelette, steamed mussels in Manzanilla wine and a whole grilled lobster along with grilled artichokes and asparagus. Wines are sold by the glass or parron, a glass pitcher that when tilted sends a stream of wine into the user's mouth. It's quite festive, as is the space with over-sized lamps as red as sangria, curvy red chairs and beaded curtains.
- Thomas Rafael