1460 Second Ave (76th St)
City: New York, NY
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Area: East 70s
There's no better way to kick back enjoying tapas and drinks or raciones (described as "composed plates" which is a little odd as tapas plates are also 'composed' ) than at Boqueria. I've referring to the UES venue where the vibe is buzzy and the brown-shirted staff uber-helpful. Our waiter spouted suggestions; the elegant maitre d' noticed I'd dropped my napkin and tactfully picked it up, removed and replaced it without a glance or a word.
A tapas spot that calls some of its offerings pinxtos gets my nod as this is what small morsels are called in the Basque country of northern Spain. (History buffs take note: pinxtos means thorn or spear explaining why many items come on a skewer. Tapas, derived from the Spanish verb tapar, "to cover," goes back to when a slice of bread was laid on top of the traditional glass of sherry to keep flies out.)
Enjoy the cojonudo, a slice of toast with a slice of chorizo topped with a quail egg, the whole consumed in at most two delicious bites. We also loved the pintxos morunos, skewers of lamb with pickled shallots and salsa verde as well as the branzino which we were told would take a good twenty minutes but arrived closer to ten. Lamb meatballs in tomato sauce laced with a sheep-milk cheese was flavorful and sufficiently meaty that we passed on the acorn-fed pork loin as well as the hanger steak with fingerling potatoes that the guys at the next table were heartily into. Spain is a cheese-lover's dream and Boqueria serves many varieties including mahon, Idiazabal from Navarre and goat-milk-based, sharpish Garrotxa from the Catalan area. Note that all cheeses aren't available at all times.
Lunch offers some of the same tapas, sandwiches (boquetas) as in the Spanified burger with tertilla cheese on a brioche bun and salads--one with chicken, one with an excellent citrus vinaigrette, roast beets and farro and another with kale, sunchokes for crunch, pinenuts and apples. Brunch dishes are as authentic as you wish--or not-- ranging from eggs Benedict with Serrano ham to an omelet rolled around goat cheese, mushrooms and caramelized onions served with patatas brava as well as assorted tapas. Many dessert lovers end with churros con chocolate although I find the fried dough/chocolate combo just a bit too much.
As behooves what is a basically a wine bar with ample food, there is a large list of Spanish wines by both glass and bottle. Sangrias change by the season with a red, white and grapefruit-based version that includes Campari, Aperol and gin available recently. Cocktails, draft and bottled beer, beer cocktails and cider are on offer as are the obligatory sherries.
Marc Vidal serves as Executive Chef for the Boqueria empire that includes Soho and a West 19th Street locale. The UES site is open seven days a week from noon to 10:30 PM (11:30 on Friday and Saturday nights). This is a great spot for a lot or a little but be forewarned-- if in the "a lot" mode, those little plates can add up.
Review By: Mari Gold