Photos by Samantha Levy, Words by Daniela Ratner
This commendable culinary concept is proof that there really is a superior power in the universe, and it is here to please our taste buds. Tapas are small, savory, Spanish dishes that are typically served at bars or restaurants. People generally order three plates per person; it really depends on how hungry you are or how many plates of delicious Jamón Ibérico (thinly sliced ham) you are trying to ingest. If you’re like me, you would enjoy endless plates of manchego cheese, croquetas de bacalao (cod croquettes) and morcilla (pigs’ blood sausage). Don’t forget the pitcher of sangria. Other typical tapas include grilled calamari, gambas al ajillo (sizzling garlic shrimp), chorizo, patatas bravas (fried potatoes with fiery tomato sauce) and bacon wrapped dates.
If you’re salivating right now, which you should be, and are desperate to find a local tapas place, I have a couple of options for you: Toro and Barcelona Wine Bar. Located at opposite ends of the city, these two places have my seal of approval and will not fail to take you on one of the greatest culinary experiences you can get outside of Spain.
Toro is located in the South End of Boston. Honestly, don’t even try coming here on Thursday though Saturday nights. They don’t accept reservations and the wait will most likely be two hours. I recently went on a Friday evening and waited an hour and forty-five minutes. I should probably go apologize to the poor hostess I harassed to no end. Regardless, I cannot express how worth the wait Toro was. We ordered the spice-marinated cauliflower, gambas al ajillo, empanadas de carne, mussels, patatas bravas and corn with cotija cheese. The corn, grilled with aioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese, is the star on their menu–I licked that cob clean. Not only was the food exceptional, but the service was impressive too. Our wine glasses were never empty. Toro was perhaps one of the best dinners I’ve had in Boston, and that’s saying something.
Barcelona Wine Bar
Barcelona, which is situated deep in Brookline, is an ideal brunch spot. I cannot think of a better way to get over a hangover than an ice-cold pitcher of Sangria and delicious tapas. Another plus, they have a jazz band on Sundays. The menu offers an array of delicious tapas along with reinvented brunch options like eggs benedict with morcilla or char-grilled lamb burger. The also have an extensive charcuterie and cheese menu. We decided to share a bunch of tapas and two mains. We got the grilled calamari, croquetas with Iberian ham and chicken, patatas bravas, sautéed mushrooms topped with goat cheese, morcilla benedict and truffle grilled cheese with tomato soup. I hold morcilla to a very high standard as it is my favorite Spanish dish and I’ve only ever had it in Spain. This morcilla was exceptional and comparable to what I’ve had in Madrid and Seville. If you are on the adventurous side, do yourself a favor and come try it. You should be looking to make a brunch reservation right now…
1704 Washington St
Boston, MA 02118
1700 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02446