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Tapas downtown

My mom is coming into the city this weekend and I'd like to take her to a Tapas place somewhere downtown. Are there are tapas places that are low key, relatively affordable and not super crowded and trendy? Anywhere within walking distance of Union Square would be ideal. Las Ramblas or Tia Pol any good?

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  1. Tia Pol is very good. I also like Boqueria and Casa Mono. I haven't been to Las Ramblas, but I've read some good reports. Alta (I've only been for drinks and a cheese plate) is also nearby.

    La Nacional and Socarrat (haven't been, but same family as LN) aren't strictly tapas, but they do have some nice tapas on their menus.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Lucia

      I've been to La Nacional and was pretty disappointed. I walk by Casa Mono frequently and it always seems very crowded.

      1. re: ukitali

        Casa Mono is crowded--sorry, missed that part of your post. So are Tia Pol and Las Ramblas, though... in fact all my tapas recs are crowded, but I can't think of a good tapas place in the city that wouldn't be crowded over the weekend. All that said, you can make reservations at Casa Mono, unlike some of the others.
        I'm surprised--La Nacional is my favorite paella in the city.

        1. re: ukitali

          I'm curious, what did you not like about La Nacional? The food I've had there tasted like home to me.

        1. re: kcijones001

          The food at Xunta isn't nearly as good as that of the top tier places and there really isn't much low key about the place. It can be fun but it's loud.

          1. re: kcijones001

            I'd skip pipa, it's a little overpriced and always over crowded. Try Bar Carrera on 1st Ave. Solex has a great space as well, and recently upgraded their Chef (ex-Chef of Taylor), so it's worth a visit as well.

            1. re: ExFlexitarian

              FYI Fran Darby has left Solex and is now at Momofuku Ssam Bar.

          2. This is a new one: should have opened last night..not sure if it did, but def by friday:
            Vintage Irving
            118A E. 15th Street; 212-677-6300

            3 Replies
            1. re: kcijones001

              lobster bisque which looked like a cappucino with steamed milk (to die for) rice balls,octopus,Homemade Potato Gnocchi. Everything was very good. We had jelly doughnuts for dessert. I think with tip our bill was under $60. I am happy to give this place a positive review. We ended up staying after and going next door to their sister lounge but I forget the name, and of course we were escorted by Zach. Thank you Vintage Irving we will be back

              1. re: mrwebster

                mrwebster, you went to vintage irving? Is that where you had the bisque and gnocchi?

                1. re: kcijones001

                  yes Vintage Irving had the BEST Lobster Bisque and Gnocchi

            2. Another you could try is Sala on 19th Street. I've always found the food, atmosphere and service to be very good.

              1. It's not withing walking distance of Union Square for most, but it is downtown - Rayuela. We went again last weekend.

                4 Replies
                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  I'm a rayuela fan but they don't really ahve traditional spanish tapas - more "nuevo latino". I think Sala is solid, possibly walkable from Union Sq. My fav overall for tapas is Las Ramblas. Also like soccarat - their specialty is paella but their tapas are really strong as well. both las ramblas and socarrat are a bit of a squeeze in terms of space, sala is a safer bet if u want to get a place to sit.

                  1. re: Renguin

                    Thanks, Renguin. Rayuela is definitely Latin/Carribean vs. Spanish. I think the atmosphere would be a good fit for the OP's request. You just reminded me of Mercat. Might be too sceney.

                      1. re: ukitali

                        Yes, I was about to suggest Ostia. Have been a number of times and always found good food, very friendly service, never too crowded or noisy, plus front wall opens onto sidewalk seating. Not sceney or pricey.

                2. Alta. The front can get a little crowded by the bar, but the dining room is nicely spaced. You should probably call to make a reservation.

                  1. Euzkadi on 4th street has some very tasty stuff

                    1. Sala is fantastic- the food/atmosphere is perfect for a fun night out- the paella is excellent!

                      1. i went euzkadi again last night. some really good tapas. duck meatballs, jamon wrapped shrimp, patats bravas, some mushroom on crostini thing... yum yum

                        1. Stick with your instincts. Tia Pol has some really good stuff, I do recommend it. But Las Ramblas is my favorite tapas place in the city. Lots of tapas places serve good food, but Las Rmablas is the only one I've been to that doesn't try to over-reach on their dishes in the vein of charging 50% more. They serve really good tapas without needlessly gussying up tradition. The space is low key (although crowded and not very comfortable), and the prices are fair. It's the closest I've found to what I had in Spain.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: zEli173

                            I ended up going to Las Ramblas. The food was yummy but the Sangria was only so-so. Should have gone with a Spanish red wine. The service was very good and the place is tiny.

                            1. re: ukitali

                              i agree the tapas at Las Ramblas are great. Casa Mono in my humble opinion is Mario"s best resto.

                              1. re: PAULSCOHEN

                                I do so agree with your humble opinion!

                                1. re: PAULSCOHEN

                                  I don't want to quibble but Casa Mono is not Mario's restaurant. It's Andy Nusser's restaurant . Mario is an investor. Just giving credit where credit is due.

                              2. re: zEli173

                                Warning re: Tia Pol if comfort is an issue. There is no traditional seating. Only high tables and metal bar stools without backs. And unless you are able to arrive before 6:30 be prepared for a wait. These things aside, the food is wonderful.