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Nov 2, 2007 10:05 AM

La Nacional - 14th St - good for business meeting?

I am trying to set up a friendly business dinner (longstanding colleagues - not a sales occasion) for eight and am thinking Spanish. I am intrigued by what I've read on this board about La Nacional. Would it be suitable?

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  1. The decor is very nondescript and worn-in (bare wood tables, for example). If you're looking for formal, then no. If it's a casual occasion, then yes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lucia

      As long as the colleagues are adventerous I would say it is fine. The decor is more than non-descript and worn in I would say. It is more like a cafeteria with cardboard chairs and tables. That being said the food is awesome.

    2. Sure, as long as they like a casual homey place...the inside looks like a suburban den that's been done up, very slightly, in Spanish style...the red wines are yummy and the paella is the best i've had in NYC...and it's usually quiet enough for a group of eight to chat and joke without having to shout, as you would at many other NYC places...

      1. To tie out this thread we did have our meeting there and everyone was pleased. The food (various tapas & house paella) was outstanding, the wine selection good, and the tab very reasonable. The pace of service was leisurely, but that was fine for us. As for decor I would agree with the comment about a "suburban den," but amend that to "1970s suburban den." All in all, though, La Nacional is a great value and I would not hesitate to go back.

        15 Replies
        1. re: MercerChow

          Glad you had a good time. I actually went back Saturday night myself. We had paella and fish stew/"casserole." Both excellent home-cooked food that tasted particularly good on a cold night. The restaurant was surprisingly full at around 10pm.

          1. re: Lucia

            How does the atmosphere rank for a date? Not talking about a Saturday night, but something somewhat casual for during the week.

            1. re: fishermb

              I hope Lucia will chime in as she's been there a lot, but the one time we went to have lunch there, the atmosphere struck us as a bit on the grim side, and so we went elsewhere. Still want to go back for dinner one night though to try the paella.

              1. re: MMRuth

                i'd check on the tango schedule upstairs. makes for charming date place on those nights. eat in the rustic no frills area downstairs and then go upstairs and join in or just watch the dancing (couples of all ages). imho pretty mediocre food but passable given uniqueness of the place... pan con tomate is a good basic starter to judge the authenticity of a tapas place -- done all wrong here. a spanish woman i know claims that they used to have a great chef, but no longer...

                1. re: thievery

                  Really? I read such great things about their food all the time, especially how amazing the paella is, which apparently has carried over to sister resto Socarrat.

                  I've never had pan con tomate that I thought was good (and that includes spending 7 days in Barcelona) so that's tough for me to judge.

                  1. re: fishermb

                    Have you tried the pan con tomate at Casa Mono? I've not been to Spain, so can't compare, but both my husband and in-laws, who have, love it, and order 2-3 orders of it every time we go.

                    1. re: fishermb

                      i did think the paella was the best of what i've gotten there, but the tapas were all subpar compared to other places... pan con tomate seemed more like a tomato sauce on supermarket bread. it's been a few months since i've been last. perhaps they've made improvements?

                      still a unique, friendly atmosphere... like one of the just off the highway side places i'd stop at in a non touristy town while driving from madrid to malaga... i'll have to go again soon.

                      bar jamon / casa mono is my fave pan con tomate in town.

                      1. re: thievery

                        While the tapas are good, I certainly wouldn't recommend La Nacional as a destination for tapas. There are many better, as you note, in Manhattan. Their main dishes, including paella, are very good.

                  2. re: MMRuth

                    Did you see the back room or just the front room? The back room is very bare--uncovered wood tables, etc., but on a weekend night when it's bustling and dimly lit, I think it could work for a date. It's certainly quaint and cozy.

                    1. re: Lucia

                      Also, make sure you don't go during El Classico - Real Madrid vs. Barcelona. Or most Real matches. Or anything involving the Spanish national team. Pretty much if Iker Casillas is on a football pitch, don't go to La Nacional.

                      I do find the back room quaint and very much like the Spanish restaurants you'll find in smaller towns around Spain.

                      1. re: Lucia

                        I don't think I saw the back room - thanks for mentioning that. Just saw the largish area around the bar.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I've never dined there--always in the back dining room, which is much different and more comfortable.

                          1. re: Lucia

                            Thanks - I'll remember that when we go - just didn't even notice it. I wonder if it's open at lunch?

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              I'm not sure--I've only been for dinner.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                i live across the street -- love it & yes its open for lunch to dinner (not sure, but fyi they seem to take a break serving late afternoon)!

                                you can see the menu here: