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The best Spanish restaurants in NYC

Make like a Spaniard with small plates, paella, wine and more at the best Spanish restaurants NYC has to offer

By Christina Izzo and Time Out New York contributors |
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Combina paella
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz Combina paella

Basque to Catalonian, Andalusian to Valencian—when it comes to food, everyone can speak with a Spanish accent. Whether you’re out for a night of group dining at one of the city’s best tapas restaurants or looking for a first-date restaurant to cozy up with charcuterie plates and a glass of wine, these are the best Spanish restaurants NYC has to offer. ¡Comamos!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best Spanish restaurants in NYC

Time Out, Photograph: Alex Strada
Restaurants, Spanish

Casa Mono

icon-location-pin Gramercy

Offal-loving partner Mario Batali and protégée Andy Nusser (Babbo, Po) broke new ground by serving dishes that less adventurous tapas restaurants seem to shy away from: cock’s combs with cèpes, excellent fried sweetbreads in an almond-flour batter. Non-organ lovers should try the juicy skirt steak atop romesco sauce or the iconic fried duck egg on mound of sautéed fingerling potatoes, all topped with shaved salt-cured tuna. Dishes come straight from the open kitchen into the dining room, which is adorned with mosaic tile floors and lined with wine bottles. For a cheaper option, head to the adjacent Bar Jamón, serving a more casual menu of treasured Iberico hams, bocaditos and an impressive selection of Spanish cheeses.

Boqueria (image provided by venue)
Photograph: Courtesy Boqueria
Restaurants, Spanish

Boqueria

icon-location-pin Soho

At this Soho branch of Yann de Rochefort's tapas spot, chef Marc Vidal plates Iberian dishes in an open kitchen. Diners—squeezed in at the marble bar and long blond-wood tables—snack on blistered shishito peppers seasoned with coarse sea salt, hanger steak a la plancha and aged cheeses over glasses of rioja wine. Cap your meal with one of the classic Spanish desserts, including churros served with thick hot chocolate.

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Restaurants, Spanish

Txikito

icon-location-pin Chelsea

Chef Alexandra Raij celebrates the cuisine of Spain’s Basque region at this spartan tapas spot. Though it lacks the bustle of Raij’s previous projects (Tia Pol, El Quinto Pino), her sprawling menu still features some solid Iberian fare. Adventurous eats include breaded-and-fried tongue cutlets; squid cut into wispy strands with sweet onions and pine nuts; and fries with cod-roe mayonnaise. In the end though, expediency—most nights, a small party can get in with little wait—may be the best reason for choosing Txikito over its often-packed forebears.

Huertas
Photograph: Nancy Borowick
Restaurants, Spanish

Huertas

icon-location-pin East Village

Young guns Jonah Miller (Maialino), Nate Adler (Blue Smoke) and Luke Momo (Sirio Ristorante) team up for this Basque spot, serving pintxos (chorizo and carrots, Russian salad with tuna) dim sum–style in front and a daily-changing four-course menu in back.

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GATO scrambled eggs
Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Mediterranean

Gato

icon-location-pin Noho

Food Network megastar Bobby Flay—who made his bones with Mesa Grill and Bolo—makes his big return to the New York dining scene. With eight—count 'em!—TV shows on rotation, the flame-haired toque puts the chef’s whites back on for this 130-seat Noho canteen. From a fan-baiting open kitchen, Flay dispatches Mediterranean-influenced plates, like mushroom-kale-and-egg paella, lamb tenderloin with salsa verde, and oven-blistered chicken with goat cheese and dandelion. At the rectangular wood bar, find small plates like scallop tartare and toasted tomato bread, alongside cocktails like the Paco (vodka, blood-orange juice, cava). Furbished with tiled floors, steel-and-glass chandeliers and 22-foot-high ceilings, the digs are spacious, but with Flay at the helm, expect it to be more jam-packed than a paella pan.

Restaurants, Spanish

El Quijote

icon-location-pin Chelsea

Nestled in the Chelsea Hotel and serving since 1930, El Quijote appears untouched by time. While seafood remains the most popular choice on the massive menu, they know their steak here, too. Try the tapa of filet mignon tips, sizzling in a frying pan, or the special appetizer combo for two. Lobster in green sauce, like everything else, is gigante. (Be sure to spoon the extra-garlicky salsa over everything in sight.) Paella, available four different ways, is also a good choice for the table. If, by some miracle, you’re able to squeeze anything else into your stomach at meal’s end, the flan is fantástico.

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Salinas
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl
Restaurants, Spanish

Salinas

icon-location-pin Chelsea

Before Casa Mono, Boqueria and Bar Basque—among the better spots in New York for contemporary Spanish cooking—there was a Tribeca restaurant called Meigas. For a couple of years, starting in 1999, the place had its moment. And then it was gone, banished to Norwalk, Connecticut, where you'll still find it today. More than a decade after leaving the city, opening chef, Luis Bollo, is back with Salinas, another hot Iberian number. The place feels like a party most nights, with brightly hued cocktails and velvet-rope prices to match. The best stuff on the menu captures the boisterous spirit of authentic tapas-style dining. The small plates here are boldly flavored and actually portioned to share.

Restaurants, Spanish

Tertulia

icon-location-pin West Village

New York is spoiled rotten with top-shelf trattorias, great casual spots for weekday Italian, where the food is fresh but not fussy, and you don’t have to think much about what’s on your plate. But most of the city isn’t as blessed with the Spanish equivalent. A few years back, chef Seamus Mullen did his bit to change that, launching his Boquerias in Soho and Chelsea with restaurateur Yann de Rochefort. The chef, who left those still thriving restaurants for health reasons last year, is back—in the West Village this time—with Tertulia, an equally charming solo endeavor. It’s the sort of easy taberna you might stumble upon during a road trip through northern Spain, somewhere between San Sebastián and Gijón, perhaps, thinking not much initially of its rustic food and interiors, only realizing later the impression they’ve left.

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Restaurants, Contemporary

Combina

icon-location-pin Soho

The boxy, glass-enclosed space that occupies that Soho corner was formerly home to Taka Taka, a conveyer-belt kitsch-en that dispensed such culture-smelting atrocities as Mexican sushi and Japanese tacos. The cultural blurrings at play at the space’s successor, Combina, however, are graciously of a more sophisticated sort. That’s because Combina’s Israel-meets-Spain menu is the brainchild of Einat Admony, the empress of multiethnic Middle Eastern charmers Bar Bolonat, Balaboosta and Taïm falafel shops. With kitchen time spent at Spanish-trilled Bolo and Patria, she exhibits a relaxed ease that allows for lively irreverence on the plate.

tiapol1
Rebecca McAlpin
Restaurants, Spanish

Tia Pol

icon-location-pin Chelsea

In Spain, grazing on tapas is as much a social celebration as a culinary one, and leisurely Tia Pol embraces this tradition con gusto. Seating is on high stools, with spill-over at the bustling bar, where handsome diners stand cheek-by-jowl while guzzling fruity sangria. Reaching crowd capacity at Tia Pol isn’t tough: It’s as slender as the white asparagus that garnishes some of its dishes. The memorable menu is one part classical, two parts wholly original: Munch on superb renditions from the tapas canon – springy squid “en su tinta” (in its own ink); patatas bravas topped with spicy aioli – and then delve into eclectic treats that are eyebrow-raising on paper and delicious on the tongue, like chorizo with bittersweet chocolate, or crunchy fried chickpeas.

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