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

MercerChow Nov 2, 2007 10:05 AM

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. l
    Lucia Nov 2, 2007 10:11 AM

    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
      john Nov 2, 2007 10:44 AM

      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. s
      Simon Nov 2, 2007 11:09 AM

      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. MercerChow Nov 14, 2007 05:29 AM

        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
          Lucia Nov 14, 2007 08:27 AM

          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
            fishermb Aug 18, 2008 07:08 AM

            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
              MMRuth Aug 18, 2008 07:09 AM

              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
                thievery Aug 18, 2008 10:48 AM

                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
                  fishermb Aug 18, 2008 11:02 AM

                  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
                    MMRuth Aug 18, 2008 11:34 AM

                    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
                      thievery Aug 18, 2008 04:39 PM

                      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
                        Lucia Aug 18, 2008 05:59 PM

                        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
                    Lucia Aug 18, 2008 12:19 PM

                    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
                      lambretta76 Aug 18, 2008 12:28 PM

                      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
                        MMRuth Aug 18, 2008 12:29 PM

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

                        1. re: MMRuth
                          Lucia Aug 18, 2008 12:37 PM

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

                          1. re: Lucia
                            MMRuth Aug 18, 2008 12:44 PM

                            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
                              Lucia Aug 18, 2008 12:48 PM

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

                              1. re: MMRuth
                                mrnyc Aug 18, 2008 05:58 PM

                                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:


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