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where is LA NACIONAL, the great tapas restaurant everyone speaks of?

jungirl Aug 17, 2006 06:13 PM

it doesn't come up in citysearch or menupages. is this place still open?

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  1. s
    sabrina RE: jungirl Aug 17, 2006 06:21 PM

    14th Street between 7th & 8th Avenues -- north side of street -- you'll love it!

    1. l
      Lucia RE: jungirl Aug 17, 2006 06:28 PM


      1. p
        Peter Cherches RE: jungirl Aug 17, 2006 07:19 PM

        I love the atmosphere, and the tapas were excellent, but I found the paella very disappointing. If you want to do a tapas crawl, El Cid is very close, but this might be their vacation period, so you'd want to check.

        I love El Cid, but it doesn't seem to be a chowhound favorite. The scallops with asparagus sauce is not to miss.


        1. jcmods RE: jungirl Aug 17, 2006 08:49 PM

          It better be open because I am hoping to go there on Labor Day weekend. Anyone know for sure if it will be open? (Please say yes!) It's the best spanish food I have had outside Spain I think. Much more reasonably priced than El Cid although I too used to love that place (it's been a few years since I have eaten there though...like the 1990's)

          1 Reply
          1. re: jcmods
            Peter Cherches RE: jcmods Aug 17, 2006 11:00 PM

            I meant that El Cid closes for about a month every summer, not La Nacional.

          2. j
            jungirl RE: jungirl Aug 17, 2006 08:51 PM

            thanks! i live literally on 14th and 7th, and i pass this block daily. i can't believe i've never noticed it. i've also read mixed reviews. some people don't like their tapas, love their paella, Peter is vice versa.

            i do love el cid. just trying out some new things. by the way Peter, despite the low zagat ratings, cafe riazor on 16th btw 7th and 8th is actually really good! their tapas are great, traditional, from galicia (the owners are from the small town of la coruna that i lived in for a few months) and their black squid ink paella was very flavorful. its never packed, the staff is unbelievably nice, i highly recommend it.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jungirl
              Peter Cherches RE: jungirl Aug 17, 2006 11:03 PM

              La Nacional is very easy to miss. There's no sign, IIRC, maybe just a plaque. Don't miss the boquerones. The tortilla is fantastic too, better than many I had in Spain.

              Though I haven't been to El Faro in some time, they are my favorite NY paella place.

              I went to Riazor many years ago, and I don't remember the food, but it had sort of a gloomy interior. Have they ever renovated?

              1. re: Peter Cherches
                jcmods RE: Peter Cherches Aug 18, 2006 01:51 PM

                It's been a year since I ate there, but we had Garlic Shrimp, Boquerones, Tortilla, Patatas Bravas, Chicken, Meatballs, Baby Lambchops, Octopus, you name it. All good, and the portions are quite large.

                We got a smallish paella just to to try. It turns out that the single serving of paella is cooked in a single serving cast-iron pan. I think this is probably why it was a bit dry (I was hoping for a portion of a larger paella just spooned onto a plate because I don't care if it sits around a little while...I think it is better that way actually). I can't say, but I have a feeling that the Paella might be better if it is made in a huge pan for several people.

              2. re: jungirl
                maria_nyc RE: jungirl Aug 25, 2006 03:02 PM

                Look for steps going down, the location is sort of a ground level basement. There is a small plaque, but that's it.
                Forgot to say that if you're planning to go on a popular night (say Friday, Saturday, etc.) you should make reservations.
                Otherwise you may endup having to wait for a while or be given a too small/wobbly table (like it happened to me.)

              3. j
                jungirl RE: jungirl Aug 18, 2006 02:34 PM

                ended up at riazor last night. went to tia pol at 6:45 and there was a wait for 4 of an hour and a half. so we headed back down to the hood and ended up at riazor. i don't think they've renovated in ages, but i sort of like the old school charm. between 4 people we shared 2 large pitchers of sangria, one white one red, 4 tapas (patatas bravas, pulpo gallega, stuffed peppers and chorizo asado) and the paella negra (black ink flavored). we were very full and with tax and tip it came out to $35 a person. the food was great. i honestly don't know why this place is so overlooked, perhaps b/c they are not "hip" designed like other chelsea venues, with neon lights and no corners...

                which brings on a total offshoot lament of the closing of la chinita linda, the BEST cuban chinese in the city. i started going there when i was 9 years old, and it closed 2 years ago b/c of the gentrification of chelsea. :(

                1 Reply
                1. re: jungirl
                  Simon RE: jungirl Aug 19, 2006 02:40 PM

                  i liked Riazor too, but i haven't been there in ages, as i mainly discovered it when i was dating a girl who lived on the same block...

                  Will be interested in your take on Nacional (once you find it)...i've been there maybe five times and have always loved the paella and low-key charm...their tapas i found merely good but with very reasonable prices and larger than usual portions...have had great bottles of Spanish red too for only about 27 dollars...

                2. g
                  gtrekker2003 RE: jungirl Aug 20, 2006 02:54 AM

                  Does La Nacional have a non-seafood paella? A version with chicken, prawns, veg?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: gtrekker2003
                    jungirl RE: gtrekker2003 Aug 23, 2006 06:41 PM

                    aren't prawns considered seafood?

                    1. re: jungirl
                      gtrekker2003 RE: jungirl Aug 26, 2006 02:52 PM

                      Yeah, prawns are considered seafood. It's the only seafood I can eat along with some types of fish.

                    2. re: gtrekker2003
                      Dave Feldman RE: gtrekker2003 Aug 25, 2006 03:34 AM

                      I can't guarantee anything, but the folks at La Nacional have been willing to customize paellas in my experience. When a friend was allergic to all shellfish, they kindly offered to put in more vegetables for her.

                    3. p
                      Peter Cherches RE: jungirl Aug 23, 2006 09:34 PM

                      If I remember correctly, they only have one paella on the menu and it has seafood & chorizo, but no chicken, so it is neither a Valenciana nor a marinera.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Peter Cherches
                        jungirl RE: Peter Cherches Aug 25, 2006 08:19 PM

                        that sounds like my kind of paella. i've always found the chicken to be dry and extraneous, in general.

                      2. l
                        Le Den RE: jungirl Aug 25, 2006 05:00 PM

                        This is a nice place to drop in, but its not a restuarant you hang in. Decor is not its strong point. But the food is good and prices decent. Very hard to find. Best to stop and ask people on the street where the door is.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Le Den
                          Peter Cherches RE: Le Den Aug 25, 2006 08:34 PM

                          Ah, but there is a certain ancient charm to the decor.

                          I believe there is a fairly visible sign that says "El Centro," as opposed to "La Nacional."

                        2. e
                          evening RE: jungirl Aug 25, 2006 08:39 PM

                          It looks more like a social club than a restaurant.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: evening
                            Lucia RE: evening Aug 25, 2006 08:43 PM

                            I don't understand that comment.

                            1. re: Lucia
                              E Eto RE: Lucia Aug 25, 2006 08:48 PM

                              He means that La Nacional is located inside the building of the Spanish Benevolent Society, which is, I suppose, a social club.


                              La Nacional
                              239 W. 14th St.
                              (212) 243-9308

                              1. re: E Eto
                                Lucia RE: E Eto Aug 25, 2006 08:49 PM

                                Yes, but the restaurant itself certainly doesn't look like a social club.

                                1. re: Lucia
                                  jcmods RE: Lucia Aug 28, 2006 06:12 PM

                                  Actually, it looks like you are walking into someone's apartment. However, if I remember correctly...there is a sign outside on the wall. Basically, you go down a couple of steps into the ground floor of this brownstone. Walk all the way to the end of the hall and turn right. It may seem a little dodgy at first because it looks like a dingy basement. However, the dining room itself is perfectly pleasant.

                                  1. re: Lucia
                                    Alan Henderson RE: Lucia Aug 28, 2006 06:54 PM

                                    The area where the bar is located can not be described more aptly than Social Club. Really bright flourescent lighting with lots of older gentleman playing dominoes and cards while watching soccer matches on loud televisions and drinking beer. I've never actually bothered going in the restaurant section, I like the bar.

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