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Sep 12, 2008 01:08 PM

Imagine Spain - Scottsdale

I tried Imagine Spain today for lunch today and I LOVE this place. Forgive my raving in advance. No, I don’t work there. No, I don’t know the owner. It’s located in the same center as Tapino at 7000 E. Shea, in the space where Radda used to be located next to Eli’s.

I have never been to Spain and do not profess to have an abundance of knowledge about Spanish cuisine, but this is as close as I’ve come to what I perceive as “real” Spanish food to be. It was quiet at lunch, so it was a nice way to try a few different things.

The menu consists of hot and cold tapas, Soups/Salads, SIX different kinds of Paellas, and Meats/Fish. We lunched on the following tapas:

Tortilla Espanola – I’ve had this at Pepin and Sol y Sombra before, and this was in a different league. Great onion flavor, not oily, and light. $3.50 for two large pieces

Chorizo a la Sidra – Spanish sausage in a cider-based sauce. Very large serving of a “dry” type of sausage. Again, not greasy, very flavorful. $6.50

Mejillones Costa Blana – Steamed mussels in a white wine a cream sauce. This is my new favorite mussels preparation, and it’s nice to see a new spin on a traditional preparation. Not one bad mussel in the group (why other restaurants can’t figure this out is beyond me) and the sauce was perfect for dipping. A gigantic portion for $7.00.

Rabas de Calamar – Strips of calamari (the hood, not the tentacles), very lightly fried served with a delicious and very garlicky aioli. (or, “allioli” en espanol!)

The bread is served with allioli and a tomato sauce. I was told that the allioli is made with milk instead of egg. And the coffee is locally roasted by Matador, located in the Scottsdale Airpark. I tried the espresso which was perfect. No hint of bitterness at all.

Lastly, they make their own lemonade and limeade. We tried both. The lemonade was great, but the limeade was FANTASTIC. Not something I would ordinarily order, but it was delicious and very refreshing.

A quick note about the service: The owner, Janet, is hands-on and Marion, our server, was very knowledgeable about the menu. There aren’t many “career waiters” these days, but he was one of them. You could tell that he really loved the food, knew just when to refill our drinks or ask for more, and accommodate our every request. We were impressed.

I can’t wait to try this place for dinner with some Rioja.

Details as follows:
Imagine Spain
7000 E. Shea Blvd

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  1. I'm so glad you wrote of your experience at Imagine Spain, EJS! We had dinner there last Friday night and had a wonderful time! I have been to Spain a few times, and truly enjoyed showing my husband around Spanish cuisine. Everything was wonderfully authentic and I look forward to going back for a lunch or dinner of tapas. We also found the owner and waiter delightful. They are truly passionate about their food, drink and service. Thanks for the comprehensive review!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: MesaChow

      Totally agree. It's the kind of of place - and the kind of people - that you just WANT to see succeed! I wish I could go back for dinner tonight. There are so many things I wanted to try.

    2. Wow, this place sounds great. Thanks for bringing our attention to it, ejs, I'm looking forward to getting around to trying it.

      Glad there's a spanish place in town that looks a little more casual.

      1. This is from a couple days ago with a link to their extensive menu.

        1. Could you tell me what the atmosphere is like? I am excited about this place! I love the food at Sol y Sombra but the atmosphere is a bit too much "place to be seen" for me!

          1 Reply
          1. re: jcoz23

            Totally casual and low key. You could be totally comfortable there in jeans, and they don't have to be $300 jeans! It's a really great place.

          2. I tried Imagine Spain in December and loved it - we were there to celebrate a special occasion and they really gave us fantastic treatment. The stuffed dates were to die for. So, imagine my dismay when I heard that they'd had an electrical fire in the kitchen, and then on a trip to Little Rangoon, I saw that the very few signs of its identity were gone and the inside was being remodeled. *sigh* I thought it was gone, and I'd never have those dates (or the chorizo in cider!) again.

            But there is good news! The Arizona Republic and New Times are both reporting that the place is re-opening as Poco. They're saying that many of the menu items are the same, and there's even more of an emphasis on tapas and the paella. They're also reporting that the atmosphere is warmer and more inviting - and it did look like that when I peeked in the window before.

            I can't wait to go back and try it - anyone who gets there before me, please give us a report!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Inertia

              I, too, saw the Republic & New Times mentions and we decided to go to Poco last night for dinner. Indeed, the atmosphere is more upbeat.....from the configuration of the tables (one long communcal table down the middle and plenty of 2-4 tops around the rest of the floor), to the artwork on the walls, to the energetic world music playing in the background.

              We only visited Imagine Spain once (as noted in my post from last September), and the food during last night's visit was just as good. During our first visit we had paella, and last night we stuck to tapas, including the sausage & cheese plate, the bacon wrapped stuffed dates that Inertia mentioned above, as well as sauteed shrimp, and chicken croquets. All were very well made and quite delicious. The aioli and tomato served with bread basket is the same as before (I loved them both then and now).

              Both Janet and Pierre stopped by our table to say hello at different points during the evening, as they were doing with all of the guests. They both appeared to be very hands-on, and taking the time to greet guests individually as well as share details about the ingredients of the various plates really enhanced our experience there. They seemed to very clearly love food, which is a trait I appreciate in a restaurateur.