Second Helping: Tapas de España

Categories: Second Helpings

tapas tortilla.jpg
Hungry for a taste of true Spanish tapas, which I'd enjoyed so much on the Iberian peninsula, I hurried to Tapas de España, which recently opened in El Señor Sol, a Mexican restaurant that occupies the Victorian building that was once the Zang Brewing Company.

There's actually no distinction between the two restaurants. When I walked in for lunch, I was led to a sticky table in the spacious, colorful (if grubby) dining room and handed two menus: one for Mexican food and one for tapas. And then I was brought a basket of chips and a bowl of salsa, a pretty good hint of which cuisine is the focal point.

Still, the tapas list was enormous, with offerings ranging from albóndigas to croquetas, seafood, sausage and salads. Sticking to the classics, I ordered patatas bravas and a tortilla Española.

The dishes might have been classics in theory, but they were a disaster in execution. The potatoes were lukewarm and mushy, more boiled than fried, and served with a tomato sauce that was like thin ketchup. The tortilla Española topped slices of stale baguette with overcooked potato omelette, plated with more of that same tomato sauce. Both dishes were way underseasoned -- and more than enough to convince me not to try anything more complicated.

I paid my check and left, still hungry for the taste of Spain. That hunger later led me to the 9th Door, which I review this week. Disappointed again, I pressed on -- and finally found what I was looking for at Ondo's, the last restaurant Jason Sheehan reviewed before leaving town, and the subject of this week's Second Helping. With food this good, I can't imagine why Sheehan ever left.

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Location Info

Tapas De Espana

2301 7th St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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3 comments
Madrileno
Madrileno

With All due respect Ms. Shunk,  I totally disagree with your ciritique of Tapas de Espana.  Your review indicates a lack of context which could become misleading to your readers.  I hope that your readers view my comment so that they don't miss out on this jewel of a restaurant.  I recognize how a person can come to such a conclusion if this is your first time to El Senor Sol and perhaps did not experience Spanish food very much. That said, most people who have been to this restaurant know that Tapas de Espana is the newest addition to the restaurant's menu and has been around for less than one year.  This explains the 2 menus and why it seems more Mexican initially. 

Furthermore, I believe you really missed out on the Best Spanish dining Denver has to offer.  I suggest to all readers to go to Tapas de Espana and ask solely for this menu and bring friends.  Anyone who has ever eaten tapas the way the Espanoles do, knows that you always go with friends.  Each person orders a tapa plate and you all share.  If you didn't do that you missed one of the major aspects, if not the most important aspect to Spanish dining. 

Moreover,  the tortilla Espanola fue riquisimo!  It was almost identical to what I experienced having lived in Madrid and sharing a flat with Espanoles.  This restaurant is the real deal.  I mean, keep in mind the restaurant isn't in the Iberian Peninsula where olives (aceitunas de Andalucia) are readily available and the hard bread of Spain isn't common place.   However, the menu is right on.  The jamon serrano is magnificent.  And as I had already mentioned, the tortilla Espanola is wonderful. 

In fact, I just came home tonight after having reserved seating for 30 people for my birthday party and we enjoyed it!

Tapas are a food meant to enjoy with friends.  In fact, it is a food not intended for the ritzy diner.  Instead, for the Spanish people, the food was meant to be affordable and available at your bar.   If you want the true Spanish food experience this is the place to go.  The other restaurant on Larimer, has it all wrong.  I'm definitely not trying to offend.  Please take it from someone who has lived in Spain and lived among (not just from the outside looking in) and with the people (living with Spaniards and visiting their homes and dining with them)  this is the BEST Spanish restaurant in Denver.  If you want the real deal you gotta go to Tapas de Espana.  The owners are Spaniards who truly know what Spanish food is!

Jay
Jay

I very much enjoy Ondo's. It's literally a hidden gem in that subterranean location.

Media Observer
Media Observer

This Madrileno cat is a dead ringer for a 'Tapas de Espana' staffer...no question.

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