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Jun 25, 2008 11:54 AM

Tapas in downtown Vancouver

I haven't had any proper tapas since moving up to Vancouver, and I think I'm overdue. Anyone been to La Bodega on Howe St recently? I see this place everyday from my apartment. I've seen it get busy-ish, but not with any regularity. Their menu seems to be authentic Spanish, but their website has Google Ads which does not inspire confidence.

I also attempted to eat at Bin941 a few times, but either the wait was too long, or it was way too loud in there (for the mood we were in). It seems to generally get good reviews. However, their menu is more fusion than tapas. Is the food really that good there? And is it worth the wait? I suppose I could always make a reservation.

Tapastree? UnWine'd? Cru? Thoughts?

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  1. I last ate at La Bodega a couple of months ago, and I tend to go once or twice a year (often for Dine Out for Life). I find their offerings consistent, which is important to me, and uniformly tasty if not excellent. The prices are decent, although they can add up especially if you are ordering sangria :-). Service has always been good. The downstairs room lives up to its name -- dark and cozy like a wine cellar, so not a good place to go on a beautiful day. The upstairs is a bit brighter but I'm a downstairs fan. The place hasn't changed a whit since the first time I went 'way back in undergrad, which is when we used to go more or less weekly. They do a pretty good job of offal if you like that sort of thing, and I'm personally hooked on the bocaditos de cerdo and the patatas bravas. Would be interested to hear your thoughts if you do end up going...

    4 Replies
    1. re: grayelf

      Thanks for the feedback. I have been doing some more research on other sites since I posted, and it seems that most of the favorable reviews are a bit outdated. In any case, I will definitely check it out, maybe in a couple weeks. My girlfriend will be coming up from SF for a long visit soon, and she'll probably want to get her fix of izakaya, dim sum, and hand-pulled noodles before experimenting with the unknown.

      The sangria seems to be very highly regarded there. Good thing it's stumbling distance from home :-)

      1. re: aburitoro

        their sangria is the best anywhere - they have cards with the recipe
        i've been there just for sangria and you don't realize until you stand up how much that stuff can knock you on your %$& *# :) delicious though! I've always had a good meal there but too many spices aren't agreeing with my stomach anymore :(

        1. re: pants

          Cancuk recommends Tapastree on this thread but no details as yet:

      2. re: grayelf

        Oops, just realized that I typed "bocaditos" instead of "montaditos" de cerdo... still tasty, whatever you call them.

        Islandgirl, it seems tapas have broadened to include small plates but La Bodega is the closest to the Spanish style we have in Vancouver I think. There used to be a couple of other places but they didn't have the staying power of La Bodega.

        I like gourmet wife's suggestions of botanas at Tequila Kitchen, which is on my list to try now that they seem to have all their oven/stove issues worked out. IIRC botanas are typically served in Mexican bars with beer or drinks, so that seems to fit the bill. I remember once when I was about 11 putting together some cold botanas (cheese, pickles etc) for my dad when he was entertaining a newly made Mexican friend in a campground. He was tickled pink by my industry, if not perhaps by the stellar array of eats :-).

        BTW, aburitoro, I'm pretty sure the Bins don't take resos -- you might want to check on that.

      3. La Bodega is one of the only authentic tapas restaurants in Vancouver.
        The others you've mentioned are all more small plates/non-spanish inspired menus.

        1. Not quite tapas but the same concept, basically sharing plates called Bonatas at Tequila Kitchen is a nice choice. My friends and I went there this week and the mexican style menu is very tasty. Now I'm no expert in Mexican food and I've never had high end Mexican before but the food was nicely prepared. Lots of tequila used in their food recipes (you can really taste it in there). I had their hibiscus rose margarita and it was amazing. Nothing like I've ever had before, be careful it doesn't taste like there's alcohol in it but about half way through, you can definitely feel the buzz.

          1. It has been ages since I've been to La Bodega. I thought the food was good the last time I was there.

            I miss my old neighborhood haunt - Santos Tapas on Commercial Dr (which is now occupied by my new neighborhood haunt - Stella's). BTW, The Latin Quarter on the Drive is completely hit or miss - and plagued by service problems. I stopped going ages ago.