When it comes to dining out, the only thing I get as excited about as sushi is tapas. Unless you know of a restaurant with sushi, low-cal froyo, and petite syrah tastings, then you might just see me pass out.
The reason I love tapas so much is that they give me a chance to go nuts.
As someone who tries to eat as healthy as possible, I usually order the most diet-friendly fare on the menu (despite drooling over the other stuff). Then I try to convince my dining partner to order the thing I’m dying to taste, but don’t want a whole plate of. That way I can fill up on the good stuff, and still get a taste of the great stuff.
When you go out for tapas though… you don’t only get to try one indulgent dish, you get to try a ton of them!
So I was super excited last weekend to check out the new Spanish tapas spot, Taberna Arros y Vi, in Santa Monica.
The BF and I stepped out of our WeHo bubble Saturday night to visit our friends Jon, Kamran, and Babak. I found the restaurant on Eater LA, and with it’s close proximity to SM’s popular nightlife, thought it was the perfect spot for a festive reunion.
Taberna has a dark, loungy vibe, so it’s fun for big groups but sexy enough for an intimate dinner date.
Just look at those antlers, they ooze sex appeal, right?!
Their specialty — in addition to awesome paella — are their innovative Sangrias.
They have 5 different Sangria options, one of which is this Honey Grapefruit concoction, made with chardonnay. Unlike most sangria, it wasn’t loaded with added sugar (just a hint of honey), and it definitely had a kick.
And the food…ahhhhh.
We shared a bunch of small plates and I got a bite of every delicious dish. I still focused on ordering semi-healthy items, while being secretly excited about all the “bad” stuff other people ordered.
I must give my guys pals some credit though, they ordered the first healthy dishes as a precursor to the heartier parts of our meal: the Summer Salad, Grilled Asparagus Tuna, and the Yellowtail Crudo.
The salad had beets, carrots, and cucumber and was beautifully presented with fresh blossoms on top. It could have used a nice zesty dressing, but it was still good.
The crudo was complimented with artichokes and an olive tapenade that gave a nice bite to the mild fish. I loved that they didn’t go with your typical Yellowtail Jalapeno combo, mostly because I don’t like spicy dishes.
For the main event, we ordered Hamburgesa Boquadillo, Baked Brandade (cod), Croquettes, and my two requests: Majorcan Fish Stew and Seafood Paella.
The boys loved the hamburgers, typical. The cod was tasty, but super unhealthy. It was mixed with breadcrumbs and mashed potatoes — almost with a baked macaroni consistency — and a little too much salt for my liking. As for the croquettes, they were as you would expect, little fried balls of amazingness.
And my beloved fish dishes…absolutely phenomenal.
The Fish Stew was by far my favorite — light, fresh, and perfectly cooked. It had everything I could possibly desire from the ocean: monkfish, calamari, shrimp, crab, and mussels and was bathed in a delicate tomato broth.
The Seafood Paella was also fabulous.
If you like carbs to soak up your seafood, then I would recommend this over the stew for it’s tasty bomba rice. Just remember to give any of the paellas about 30 minutes to prepare.
We learned this the hard way after ours was accidentally given to a nearby table, and we had to wait a while for a new one.
The manager was overly accommodating though, and offered us anything on the menu to make up for the mistake. When we declined, he brought over a delightful salmon dish and a new round of drinks.
To sum it up, this restaurant is the perfect choice for seafood-lovers, meat-eaters, and veggies alike (there’s also a Paella de Verduras).
Whether you’re looking for light and healthy (the stew), fabulously-fried (cod/croquettes), or just to imbibe, there is something for everyone.
I will certainly be returning the next time I head over to the west side, and I can’t wait to try the rest of their mouth-watering dishes.
I give Taberna Arros y Vi two prawns up.