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Best downtown Spanish restaurant?

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Of the downtown Spanish restaurants--Don Quixote, La National, El Faro, La Paella, Sevilla, etc. etc., which is the best? I'm looking for a fun (i.e., not stuck up, staid, good for groups, not crazy-expensive) place for next Friday night to celebrate a birthday. Thoughts?

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  1. If the food is of any importance, I would suggest you change your parameters. There aren't any good downtown Spanish restaurants. (Not counting Casa Mono, which I don't love but which is at least better than those mentioned in a completely different style.)

    1. We liked Sevilla. We went as a group, including some young children, and really enjoyed the food and good service. They attached tables for our group. Since we discovered Sevilla, we hardly made any trip to Newark, NJ for Spanish food.

      1. El Faro!

        1. La Nacional is very good. The decor is very bare bones, so I'm not sure it would meet your celebration needs, but the restaurant is certainly casual and good for groups.

          1. Sevilla has gone steadily downhill over the years. I was there recently and the mariscada was tasteless and awful. Both the paella and the tapas at La Paella are pretty bad. I had some very nice tapas at La Nacional, but I found the paella rather mediocre. I can't comment on the current state of El Faro since I haven't been in at least 5 years, but they used to be quite good. The best Spanish food I've had recently (outside of tapas) was at Casa Vasca in Newark.

            Bear in mind that El Faro doesn't take reservations, and waits on weekends can be deadly (I tried to go on a Saturday a couple of years ago and there was a 90-minute wait). La Nacional is definitely a relatively staid atmosphere.

            http://petercherches.blogspot.com

            1 Reply
            1. re: Peter Cherches

              Spain on 13th Street between 6th and 7th Aves. Check Chowhound for past threads.

            2. I have great memories of El Quijote both as a child and as an adult. So whether it is nostalgia or quality, I can't be too sure. But I love it there. El Faro being a close second. With Sevilla as a solid third.

              2 Replies
              1. re: BaconBits

                Second to this exact rating order. None of these have wavered much in consistency over the years. Slight edge to El Quijote. Avoid Spain, even though they give you mountains of food, because it just isn't good enough to be downtown.

                1. re: addictedtolunch

                  I haven't been to Spain in years, but they were certainly a dog when I did go.

              2. I have never tried some of the places you mention, but I don't care for El Faro.

                OTOH, my favorite "neighborhood" restaurant in New York is El Charro on 4 Charles Street. After 17 years of dining there, it's still always delicious, and always great service. There always seems to be a group of some type there celebrating an occasion or just the day. Their margaritas are arguably the best in New York, and their Sangria flies out of there, both red and white. To me, it's a very festive place for a birthday.

                I'll be there on Tuesday night! ;<D

                1. I quite enjoyed El Faro the few times I've been there. I remember the green sauce being very tasty. Very old style, decor unchanged since it opened, if you're into that sort of thing. La Nacional has been recommended to me by a few Spaniards, but I've yet to try it. I find it's hard to find good Spanish food in the city. I've yet to find a winning paella.