Last weekend we had the opportunity to check out the District’s latest entrant into the tapas market, New York’s Boqueria. Their first location outside of NYC, Boqueria is the latest import from the city, following in the footsteps of Carmine’s, Hill Country, and Shake Shack. And while DC uber-chef Jose Andres has not one but three locations of his wildly popular Jaleo restaurants in the area (not to mention one in Las Vegas), we entered Boqueria with an open mind and an empty stomach.
When we were seated for our 8pm reservation, it was a tight fit for the three of us (Rachel had a friend visiting from out of town) considering the table was suited more for a couple at best. In fact, another party of two actually declined sitting at the table next to us because of this very issue. It was also a Saturday night, so the place was understandably busy, but they were obviously trying to maximize as much space as they could. Also, a reservation is highly recommended on the weekends considering the wait was an hour and a half otherwise.
We started the evening off with a pitcher of their red sangria, and while it was rather refreshing, it tasted like there was barely an ounce of alcohol in the entire jug. If you’re splitting an entire pitcher between two people and neither of you feel a buzz, there’s something wrong.
While the beverages were a letdown, the food was not. Our first plate was the traditional Tortilla Española. I’m a big fan of Spanish omelets and Boqueria’s take on the dish was very enjoyable. Light and fluffy, it came with a side of olives as well as some bread and butter.
The patatas bravas were so crispy that they almost resembled tater tots. The blend of the salsa brava and roasted garlic allioli saved the dish as it added a nice kick to the potatoes. It was also a generous portion as there were plenty of patatas to go around for three diners.
The Pintxos Morunos, or Colorado lamb skewers, were excellent. Topped with salsa verde and accompanied with pickled shallots, the seared lamb was tender and flavorful.
The sautéed wild mushrooms were also a hit amongst the table. Prepared with Manchego cheese and thyme, the serving size was more than adequate. It proved to be a great side that had a lot of flavor without being too filling.
Speaking of side dishes, we also ordered their sautéed spinach. Prepared with garbanzos, pine nuts, garlic, and raisins, this was another solid offering. It became evident throughout the meal that Boqueria’s vegetable tapas not only provide a great value with their large portions, but that they’re also finely executed.
And while the grilled baby squid was very good, the amount of txipirones actually served was something left to be desired. It was more of squid salad than anything. Served with frisée, romesco vinaigrette, tomato confit, and crispy scallions, the pieces of squid were far and few between.
Just when we thought we were full, we ordered the Torrija y Helado for dessert. A caramelized Spanish toast topped with yogurt ice cream, it bore a slight resemblance to bread pudding. After tasting it, however, we quickly realized that it was even better. The caramelized coating provided a crunchy texture on the outside, but the inside was warm and gooey. The yogurt-flavored ice cream provided a nice balance and made for an overall impressive dish. If there’s one dessert you should order at Boqueria, it’s definitely this.
Overall, we were very pleased not only with our food but also with the service. The dishes came out a balanced pace while our plates were continuously cleared without feeling rushed. Considering we ordered seven plates and a pitcher of sangria, our bill came out to a little over $100 for three people. That’s not bad at all considering how full we left the restaurant. It’s a great addition to the tapas scene in DC, but we’ll be sticking to wine as our libation of choice on our next visit.