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LIZARRAN, Fullerton (not-so-brief review)

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I was going to wait a couple months for the new tapas restaurant to work out any kinks, but curiosity got the best of me. So I went w/Mr OCAnn in tow.

The restaurant has a nice feel; an energetic vibe. There's a couple of flat screens hanging on the corners turned to sports; rather than tv, Spanish music would've been a nicer fit. The layout is a bit odd and the room is almost-but-not-quite sterile; but as its newness wears off, it'll be a more comfortable version of itself.

We went last night and were promptly seated; the restaurant was at capacity. What you do here is you can either go up to the tapas counter and pick out what you want (they plate it for you) or wait for the kitchen staff to pass around trays with fresh-from-the-kitchen fare. After a 12-hour day @ work, I preferred the latter.

All tapas were served on a slice of toasted bread (sliced baguette?) with a toothpick thru it. You pay for the number of toothpicks on your plate, so it's essentially on the honour system. I get the feeling that while most 30-somethings and above will play by that rule, the college town's 20-somethings might not (unless they're on a date). I'm hoping that I'm wrong. Although their website says $1.00 for a round toothpick and $1.50 for a flat toothpick, ours were all $1.75 each.

We had the sangria ($5.25) along w/10 toothpics worth of tapas. Those include one with seafood salad (meh), smoked salmon with sliced eel (mmm!), potato chip w/bacon (interesting), a tiny sausage (good), along with a few others I can't recall (sorry, I had a long day). While noshing on the tapas, we ordered Entrecotta a la Parilla and Tortilla de Patatas.

As we waited, trying more tapas, our young waitress returns to us saying that our orders should be ready shortly. Another couple tapas later, she returns again, apologising sincerely, how our orders didn't go thru and if we could remind her what it was. We ordered again; and we couldn't get upset, since it was an honest mistake for which she owned up to. Up to then, we had 7 toothpicks on our plates, which she "took care of" due to her mistake. Soon after, our orders arrived.

The Entrecotta a la Parilla ($15) was a rib steak, probably 7-8 ounces. It was nicely charred on the outside and rare inside (we ordered medium rare). The thick cut of steak had a nice smokey flavour on the outside while the center most part was still nicely rare. It was garnished with potatoes and sliced, grilled red pepper. We enjoyed this; the steak wasn't overly flavourful...it was just nicely done. It wasn't chewy, but moist and tender.

The Tortilla de Patatas ($7) was a plate of four potatoe (I'm feeling Gore-ish) pancakes and four slices of toast. Good enough potatoes (meh toast), but not sure that I'd order this again.

We were really full by then, but I couldn't leave without ordering the necessary dessert. I was eyeballing the rice pudding, but the waitress recommended the Tarta Santiago con chupito de Vino dulce (cake w/sweet wine), so we went with her suggestion. The thin, dense cake seemed mass-produced and after the sweet wine was poured on top, I found it to be okay.

Our bill, including tax, minus the 7 toothpicks, plus 3 additional toothpicks (after she cleared our 7), came out to $41. Last night, I'd say our meal was good, not great. We definitely plan to go back and try the other tapas. I'd love to say whether this is the real deal, but having never been to Spain, I can't speak to that.

Oh, parking. On the S/E corner of Chapman/Harbor behind Starbucks/Kinko's, there's a one-level parking structure. Parking is a hit-or-miss here. Other parking options include the structure east of Harbor on Wilshire or across the street in the BofA lot.

Lizarran doesn't accept reservations but will take call-in priority seating.

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Lizarran Tapas Restaurant
310 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92832

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  1. Thanks for the great review OCAnn! :)

    I was curious about this restaurant, too. I'll have to give it a try soon.

    1. It just so happens that I read your blog post of this restaurant over at OC Register today. Can't wait to check out the place. The only other tapas place I'e been to in OC was the one over at The Block, which was mediocre.

      1. Very nice review OCA. Tapas are a fun and tasty way to dine, and your review makes this place out to have real potential. I can completely understand about the brain fade as to what was on which toothpicks you consumed, as that was always a difficult feat for me in Madrid after a few too many canas. And when you say you were feeling "Gore-ish" are you certain you weren't feeling "Quayle-ish?" instead, (seeing as how Dan was the one who liked to finish off his potato with a little 'e' on the end)?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Servorg

          LOL! You got me. Yes, Quayle-ish. =B Thanks to Gore, I have the internet!

        2. I tried Lizarran last Tuesday. It was very hit-and-miss. When we asked our waitress about one hot pintxo she offered the table (because it was quite yummy), she couldn't tell us what kind of meat topped the bread. After consulting the kitchen, she then told us it was (I kid you not) PorkBeef. I translate that to mean it was a pork cutlet. I seriously doubt there are Spaniards doing the cooking back there. But it's pretty formulaic food, so any cook can be trained to handle that menu, I guess.

          Some pintxos were good, others meh. Friendly but clueless waitresses with next to no understanding of the cuisine. No management visible anywhere-- the kids were running the joint. We did have Spanish tunes in addition to the flat screen sports. Room is oddly anodyne and faceless. Definitely have to bring your own party to this place.

          Only after paying our $80 tab (we were 4) did I see Tapas Tuesdays promoted on their website-- every toothpick one dollar. None of ours cost less than $1.75 that Tuesday. Go figure. The website is a hot mess, btw. Dated, confusing and menu descrips are all in Spanish; clearly this franchise has no English language properties before Fullerton.

          Pretty decent sangria, though. Part of me says wait-- so they can work the bugs out. Part of me suspects they don't even know/care they have bugs-- and therefore won't be with us for the long haul. I smell an absentee owner.

          1. Great review. I'll try tyo go soon and see if speaking Spanish (or Catalan) helps.

            1. It doesn't sound very promising when obviously they're having kitchen and front issues. Frankly, I wouldn't go back to a restaurant that kicks off with lousy service and is just "good" but not great.

              1 Reply
              1. re: callie

                In my old age, I've learned to give restaurants (as with people) second chances.

              2. I completely agree with the original post. If you're having a major jones for tapas, this place is decent-good. The vibe was very NOT spanish. All of the white tile, shiny surfaces and cutesy waitresses made for a very OC atmosphere. If you're near Pasadena, i'd recommend La Luna Negra off of Colorado in Old Town. I haven't had the full-on tapas experience there, but I have had several dishes and the design of the restaurant is beautiful, sort of a surrealist/spanish aesthetic.