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Boqueria: What's the atmosphere like?

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tastymaine Mar 3, 2009 11:15 AM

We are planning dinner for two at Boqueria on a Saturday night during our visit in May. What is the interior like? What dress is appropriate for the weather then? Thanks!

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  1. m
    mahler5 RE: tastymaine Mar 3, 2009 12:08 PM

    The last time I was there it was so crowded we were very uncomfortable. And deafeningly loud. Deafening.

    5 Replies
    1. re: mahler5
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      tastymaine RE: mahler5 Mar 3, 2009 12:20 PM

      Yikes. Real Spanish tapas can't be had in Portland (Maine) and I was looking forward to sampling some of what Manhattan had to offer.

      Any recommendations for cozier places for Spanish small plates? It's our 10th anniversary, sans kiddos, so actually being able to hear each other talk is key.

      1. re: tastymaine
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        Simon RE: tastymaine Mar 3, 2009 01:27 PM

        i went to the Soho branch of Boqueria once by myself...while i only sampled a couple items, i wasn't thrilled and i found the atmosphere a bit bright, loud, and corporate (like TGIF's version of a tapas bar)...

        i much much prefer Tia Pol...also crowded but cozy if you go early and snag a table by the wall...the suckling pig is off-the-charts delicious, and i also like the marinated fish, fried chickpeas, and deviled eggs...

        1. re: Simon
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          tastymaine RE: Simon Mar 3, 2009 01:43 PM

          Thanks for the pointer toward Tia Pol. What's it like inside? (Meaning: warm lightng & decor? Good usic?)

          1. re: tastymaine
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            Simon RE: tastymaine Mar 3, 2009 02:18 PM

            it's a tiny, narrow space...weekdays are easier than weekends...brick walls...a few wood tables w/ barstools...semi-dim lighting...i think they always have the suckling pig on Wed and Sunday, other days are hit or miss for that dish...service is nice and knowledgable...

            if you go on a Saturday, go early (like 5:30) if you want a table...

            it's a casual gem of a place...

        2. re: tastymaine
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          thedairyshow RE: tastymaine Mar 3, 2009 03:04 PM

          I think boqueria is great. The food is excellent. I've been to the one in SoHo twice and I didn't find it that noisy. Probably depends on what time you are planning on going. I was in the Flatiron one this weekend on Friday night. Again I didn't find it too loud, but maybe I'm used to loud.

          Casa Mono is also great. In my view its a little more cramped and crowded than boqueria, but if you get a table near the windows, rather than in the middle it is better.

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        mch RE: tastymaine Mar 3, 2009 12:47 PM

        there are 2 boquerias. one near flatiron/union square and the other in soho. the one in flatiron is definitely lout and can feel cramped. i had 2 dishes, they were ok nothing amazing. the sangria however was delicious.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mch
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          tastymaine RE: mch Mar 3, 2009 01:45 PM

          What about Casa Mono as an alternative?

          1. re: tastymaine
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            cpw RE: tastymaine Mar 3, 2009 02:13 PM

            Can't say about the authencity of tapas, but they sure are delicious. It's a good choice food wise, but for noise level, try going on an off peak hour.

            1. re: tastymaine
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              kathryn RE: tastymaine Mar 3, 2009 05:17 PM

              The tapas there are delicious! Note that they are really "raciones" because the portion size is fairly large. It is loud, crowded, and cramped, but you can save yourself the trouble of a wait if you call to make a reservation. Simply call one month in advance to the numerical date.

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            SophiaKitchenCaravan RE: tastymaine Mar 3, 2009 02:35 PM

            I know there is a cute place calle ~N (like the Spanish N) in Soho, on Crosby and Grand. I have never been but many people have told me about it over the years. Maybe someone else can jump in and tell you more about the atmosphere.

            2 Replies
            1. re: SophiaKitchenCaravan
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              Simon RE: SophiaKitchenCaravan Mar 3, 2009 02:56 PM

              it's a very fun, cute place for drinks, but the food is only so-so at best...i like it a lot, but i think of it as somewhere to drink (they have a fine selection of sherries) and maybe some almonds and cheese, rather than somewhere to eat dinner...

              1. re: Simon
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                small h RE: Simon Mar 3, 2009 03:54 PM

                Agree with Simon 100%. It's pretty cramped in there, but the crowd is friendly so it's not unpleasant. I remember it being quite loud - voices, not amplified music.

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              RCC RE: tastymaine Mar 3, 2009 03:11 PM

              Boqueria is great for their very good Spanish tapas and well-priced wine list. As far as complainers here about the place being loud and cramped, I hate to tell these people how much worse it gets at good tapas places in Spain. I'm not saying that that's what the norm should be, but that's just how it is in true Spanish tapas places.

              Anyway, for a more serene, but not necessarily cramped, tapas place, I'd go with Casa Mono. The servings are actually not tapas-sized. They are about double the portions. The Spanish-based dishes are very good.

              5 Replies
              1. re: RCC
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                kathryn RE: RCC Mar 3, 2009 05:19 PM

                Agreed -- most of the GOOD "name brand" tapas places in NYC are loud, crowded, and a bit cramped...but that's the way it's supposed to be, right? At least it's not uber-smoky because you can't smoke indoors in NYC any more.

                I do not find Casa Mono serene or spacious at all! Maybe slightly more serene in comparison to its peers...but not really. There is no where to wait for a seat except next door or outside. Even standing in the tiny foyer, I felt like I was in the way of the waiters and hostess.

                And when we were seated, they practically had to pull the table all the way out in order to let me sit on the inside.

                1. re: kathryn
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                  RCC RE: kathryn Mar 3, 2009 05:22 PM

                  I failed to mention that I meant to compare Casa Mono to Boqueria. To me, CM is definitely less crowded than and not as loud as Boqueria.

                  1. re: RCC
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                    kathryn RE: RCC Mar 3, 2009 05:24 PM

                    Maybe it's less crowded because they make you wait at Bar Jamon next door?

                    1. re: kathryn
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                      RCC RE: kathryn Mar 3, 2009 05:27 PM

                      Nope. Never waited at Casa Mono/Bar Jamon and at Boqueria. Have eaten at both at peak times numerous times and Boqueria definitely feels more crowded.

                      1. re: RCC
                        ulterior epicure RE: RCC Mar 4, 2009 09:14 AM

                        Wow, I can't imagine. Although, to be fair, the only time I've been to casa mono, it was at the noon hour on a Sunday. But given its size, I can't imagine how it wouldn't be during peak hours.

              2. j
                JMJD RE: tastymaine Mar 3, 2009 07:17 PM

                Was there once last summer, and tried again recently late on a Saturday evening but left due to the wait (19th street location). I know several people have commented on the noise, but the thing that was noticeable to me was that it was a bit of a "scene" (larger groups of young people out for a night on the town). Just wanted to mention it in case that was a negative to you...

                If you are looking for alternatives Alta is not really Spanish, but good tapas-style in a semi-romantic spot (but can also be noisy). I think Tia Pol is a good choice, and I've heard good things about Casa Mono. You could also look for posts on Pamplona -- again, I haven't been there but my impression is that it might be less of a scene and more food-centric.

                And since no one answered: early May in NYC can be chilly, later May can be hot....bring layers/jackets and "nice" jeans are fine for a tapas style place.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JMJD
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                  tastymaine RE: JMJD Mar 4, 2009 08:33 AM

                  As a new poster but longtime reader on Chowhound...I have to say that this is the most fabulous resource. Your recommendations are much appreciated. We love Spanish tapas and have been looking forward to this kind of cuisine for over a month. And while we don't mind sitting side-by-side in a boisterous tapas place -- did it many times in Boston and loved it -- I have to admit that sitting side-by-side completely unable to hear eachother is not my idea of a romantic evening. Fun? Yes. Might switch things around a little, though, and make the tapas meal not our big, romantic Saturday night one. For those interested, I think that we are going to end up at Tia Pol. I'll report back. :)

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