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Any good Spanish restaurants?

Besides Cobras and Matadors?

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    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      Manchego on Main st in Santa Monica.

    2. Tapas: Bar Pintxo & La Paella (strangely enough, I would advise AGAINST their paella)

      Progressive Spanish: Bazaar (molecular a la Ferran Adria & decent traditional tapas standards too, and OK but spectacular jamon de bellotas)

      Paella: La Espanola Meats Inc. (a Spanish market - their paella mixta is made on Saturday, available by phone order on Fridays)

      1 Reply
      1. re: J.L.

        Espanola in Harbor City is a great place. They have a nice shaded seating areaand the paella cooking smells heavenly. A top notch Spanish market as well.

        1. re: SeaCook

          I vote nay on La Luna Negra - Horrid.

          1. re: SeaCook

            La Luna Negra is the best Spanish restaurant on the south side of Green St. between De Lacey and Fair Oaks. That's about the best thing that can be said for it.

          2. Bar Celona in Pasadena is our clear favorite for tapas-style dining. The menu was revamped a year or so ago and is substantially improved from what it was a few years back. Much better than the nearby Luna Negra. A close 2nd is probably 3 Drunken Goats in Montrose.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Jack Flash

              Last time I went to Bar Celona was 3 years ago - just awful. I'll have to try it again.

              1. re: J.L.

                Josef Centeno (now at his own Lazy Ox) redid the menu for them. It has been a lot better since then, at least the last few times we've gone.

              2. re: Jack Flash

                Bar Celona was horrible, if you are looking for authentic Spanish food stay away.

              3. Other than Bazaar there haven't really been ANY good Spanish restaurants in LA since Meson G shut down. Some mid level stuff and nothing particularly regional. Maybe pintxo, which is a Catalan place with a Basque name. I get that the Basque tapas bars are popular in Barsa, but I think it was over reaching.

                3 Replies
                1. re: AAQjr

                  Believe it or not, Basque food is big in Madrid too.

                  1. re: J.L.

                    La Paella on San Vicente Blvd. near Cedars is serviceable.

                    1. re: Bria Silbert

                      La Paella makes a nice sangria and many nice tapas dishes, but strangely, their paellas are a soppy mess.

                2. Avoid Cobras. It used to be one of my favorite restaurants, but it has gone way down hill over the past couple of months - smaller portions, higher prices and they basically took half of the items off their menu.

                  1. Oh, how I wish.
                    I'm married to a Spaniard, so we're always on the lookout. Our conclusion: if you're looking for authentic, traditional Spanish food, the only options are La Paella on San Vicente and La Española in Harbor City (which only cooks on Saturdays, call ahead). Interesting that people on here are dissing the paella at La Paella; my husband is from Alicante, honest-to-god paella country, and he thinks it's excellent. So do I. The only problem, as with almost every Spanish restaurant in the States, is the price. But the food, ambience and owners are delightful.

                    We had high hopes for Bar Pintxo in Santa Monica, especially since it feels like an authentic Spanish bar when you walk in (minus tobacco fumes and napkins and olive pits on the floor). But it too, alas, is over-priced and fru-fru -- you order gambas al ajillo and they bring you a pincho with a couple of enormous shrimp drizzled with lemon and garlic infused oil, festooned with lemon zest. It's tasty and pretty (and expensive) BUT IT'S NOT GAMBAS AL AJILLO, OKAY??? Gambas al ajillo is small shrimp swimming in olive oil and garlic with red pepper flakes. The oil is the whole point; you sop it up with your bread. Actually, Spain (that's the name) on Glendale Blvd. in Silver Lake does a good one. But for the life of me, I don't understand why L.A. restaurateurs are so averse to doing an authentic tapas place. Bazaar is also excellent, but costs an arm and a leg... and I have to confess I didn't try their more authentic tapas... I did the Ferran Adria inspired liquid nitrogen and foam thingies. It was great, but I finally had to order a plate of jamón ibérico.

                    La Paella
                    476 S San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                    Bar Pintxo
                    109 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Arguitos

                      Have you ever tried Cobras and Matadors on Beverly Blvd? Might be worth a try (if not).

                      Cobras and Matadors
                      7615 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Been there. I'm half Spanish (and the other half is French), and Cobras & Matador is as Spanish as I'm a tall, leggy, Swedish blond. La Española is the only place that is remotely close to decent Spanish food in LA.
                        Never been to Spain nor to Bazaar (can't afford those prices), but La Paella on San Vicente is...meh. At best. (and now, half of me is feeling homesick.)

                        La Paella
                        476 S San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                        Cobras & Matadors
                        4655 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                        1. re: bad nono

                          I'm a tall, leggy Swedish blonde. And, thanks to you, I'll be going to La Española.


                            1. re: kauma

                              As suggested repeatedly, please call in your paella order on friday for saturday pick-up. Your Swedishness will truly appreciate their deft hand at saffron. :) They have tables and chairs in a covered area on the side of the building. You can grab a bottle of wine or sidra there and enjoy the company of real Spaniards and devoted converts for a nice afternoon...

                              1. re: kauma

                                kauma, I'd say uff da, if you were Norsk.

                                My favorite unsung and partly sung Southern California restaurants are Italian, but I'll also try La Española. I wonder if any Spanish place around here approaches Piatti at the mid-level or Valentino at the high-end? Speaking as a short, elderly Italian man, I haven't found one, but maybe La Española, with Richard Dyer-Bennet on my iPorto, will fit the bill. Spanish, he said, is the loving tongue.

                          1. re: Arguitos

                            Well, the Food Police have issues with food standing around, despite the fact that we'd probably have heard about it if, say, the entire nation of Catalunya had suddenly been poisoned by room-temperature tapas.

                            I want a whole friggin' district. I want to go into a bar and have a glass of cava and whatever the speciality tapes of the house are, then I want to walk a few doors down and have a glass of good red and another tapa or two... etc.

                            1. re: Arguitos

                              There are restaurants that try to authentic anything - and get their asses kicked. Sometimes authentic doesn't translate. Specifically, I've heard critics complain that in Italy they use olive oil sparingly, and that chefs here are way too generous. But that was then, this is now. Olive oil is fat, and L.A. doesn't like to see anything swimming in anything. That might be part of it. (then again, nice to see Animal thrive in L.A.) .

                              BTW I had jamon iberico for the first time in my life at Bazaar and thought it just sucked. I didn't get the fuss. It tasted like tired prosciutto. But, tried it again, same place, six months later (maybe it was the chef at our table) and holy moley! Fantastic! I get the fuss! Big difference, a world of difference. Worth it. Now if I see it, I always get some - a nice splurge, like truffles.

                              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                Dang! Another jamon addict I have to compete with! Hehehe...

                                1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                  Frankly, i find mojama to be so amazing at its best that i'd skip the iberico and serranico and all its permutations for a good mojama.

                              2. Ole Tapas does a credible Paella. Unfortunately a with many ethnic restaurants in the Los Angeles area everyone seems to be afraid of doing the real thing. It's as though those of us who live here are not expected to enjoy the authentic taste of a foreign food. A shame, but we then try to look for the "most credible".

                                Ole Tapas Bar
                                13251 Ventura Blvd Ste A, Studio City, CA 91604

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Hughlipton

                                  My thoughts on the matter:

                                  When it comes to most restaurant paellas in L.A., it's not fear of the authentic - I feel it's just that authentic paella takes more time to cook than restaurants would like to spend on cooking it properly. The socarrat (the almost burnt rice at the bottom of the paella pan), which I love to see on a real paella, cannot be achieved until the base layer of water has been cooked off. To do this right, a customer would have to wait considerably longer for his/her paella to arrive at the table. Restaurants need to turn tables, and worry about impatient customers, so the paella often comes out soggy. Saffron seafood porridge does not a paella make.

                                  La Espanola's paella gets it right. Alas, I've yet to find anything even close to it in my paella quest in L.A.

                                  The paella at Spain on Glendale Bl. is more of a Cuban-esque arroz dish than paella. BTW, Spain is owned/operated by Argentinians - not an inherently bad thing, but I just didn't find their food authentically "Spanish".

                                  1. re: J.L.

                                    Re: Spain restaurant. I think the seafood paella at Spain is pretty darn good and worth a try. Other things are passable at best. Having spent little time in Spain and no time in Argentina, I can't speak anything as to authenticity of the paella, but I've watched it being cooked and it strikes me as a legit dish.

                                    1. re: sillygoosedown

                                      Having spent a lot of time in Spain and Argentina, and being married to a Spaniard as my Chowspouse, I'd have to say that the paella at Spain restaurant is not truly Spanish.

                                      It's not a lousy as a rice dish, but it's just not Spanish paella.

                                        1. re: sillygoosedown

                                          One word: Soggy. I've ordered it 3 times before - 2 times out of 3, they used long grain rice - A paella dealbreaker.

                                          1. re: J.L.

                                            I should pay more attention to the food I eat!

                                            1. re: J.L.

                                              I've never dared order the paella at Spain... and truth be told, I suspected once or twice that what they were passing off as jamon serrano was really prosciutto. Since I last mentioned them, I went back and they were lousy. Since I last wrote about La Paella, I went back and, lo! the paella valenciana was indeed a bit gooey. Still, it's been quite good the other times I've been. We ordered the arroz a banda there once and were blown away. Our main quibble with them is the price.

                                              That's another reason to love La Española. I agree that La Española's paella is probably the most authentic I've had, but the best thing is how Spanish the whole thing FEELS. A lengthy summer lunch in Alicante means sitting on the patio in plastic chairs, jamon, potato chips and pickled mussels on the table, a bottle of wine being passed around with a caña, and scraping the socarrat directly from the pan with a spoon. Sitting on La Española's patio is prettly close to that, though you have to eat from a plastic to-go container and there's no socarrat.

                                              La Paella
                                              476 S San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                                  2. I can't believe nobody's mentioned Cafe Sevilla in Long Beach or San Diego gaslamp district. Pretty decent..as close as you can get to commercial restaurant..the other place is..our kitchen! :-)

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: trvlcrzy

                                      I didn't mention Cafe Sevilla because it wasn't worth mentioning. Below decent, in my book.

                                      1. re: J.L.

                                        I'd mention it ahead of the other restaurants (except Bazaar). la Espanola is not really a restaurant and the reason why their paella is never soggy is because they use the "no se pasa" rice. It's sold in their store in a blue box. But due to this, you cannot achieve that bottom crust. Don't get me wrong as I love La Espanola and their family. Have been going to them since their "garage store" days but it's really more of a store. No decent paellas in LA and I have been searching for authentic Spanish churros con chocolate all my life here in LA too to no avail.

                                        1. re: trvlcrzy

                                          Interesting about the rice - thanks for the insight on this. I didn't realize that due to the specific type of rice that no socorrat would form. What is it about this rice that prevents the socorrat?

                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            The longer cooking time, not type of rice, determines whether or not there is socorrat. You can also achieve a great socorrat with a long-grain rice, such as basmati rice (Persian tah dig is a great example of a long-grained socorrat).

                                            It's just that medium or short grain is what you're supposed used for paella, that's all. Its shape helps soak in the broth during cooking and gives a different "al dente" than long-grain (when done right).

                                            1. re: J.L.

                                              Thanks, J.L. I've been around rice all of my life, and having never experienced the inability to get that crusty bottom with rices that I've cooked (whether intentional or not :)), I was curious about this one. I always assumed that the lack of socarrat in La Espanola's paella was because the large batches that they're probably cooked in, maybe the assumption by those less familiar with rice that the socorrat was a cooking error, and maybe just the kitchen keeping the best part for themselves. :)

                                          2. re: trvlcrzy

                                            Cafe Sevilla is nowhere near as good as La Espanola. I've tried the different versions of paella at Cafe Sevilla and it's not that great.

                                            La Espanola paella is fantastic.

                                      2. The best Spanish restaurant I have been to recently is actually French--and, sadly, It ends tonight. Marche Moderne at South Coast Plaza has been doing a "Ten Days of Spain" menu that includes a variety of tapas (albeit at higher than tapas prices), Spanish cheeses and meats (among which were two types of Jamon Iberico--the acorn fed at $36 for 2 oz), a small selection (half dozen by the glass) of Spanish wines, and a variety of paellas [paprika chicken with sherry, scallops and monkfish, lobster and langoustine, or pork shank]. Among the offerings are a Chistora [basque sausage] and bean dish that was quite good, a delicious (chilled) Marcona almond and sweet garlic soup and one of the best paellas I have had in SoCal.

                                        All four paellas are made with La Bomba rice and included clams, mussels, seppia, pickled chipiron (baby squid), two types of chorizo, piquillo peppers and La Mancha saffron--al served in an individual, large, paella pan. And, yes, there was even some socarrat, The tapas ranged from $6 to $20 (langoustine and octopus) and the paellas were $26-28 except for the one with lobster, which was $45.

                                        Marche Moderne
                                        3333 Bristol St 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: New Trial

                                          I (and 2 of my Spanish family members) also attended the "Ten Days of Spain" at Marche Moderne last week. Sadly, it was not as good as I had hoped. [Full writeup pending]

                                          Don't get me wrong... Chef Florent is truly gifted, but his forte lies within his French fare. I have really enjoyed most items on his usual MM menu. But, I'm afraid he's a bit out of his elements with the Spain menu (and our group ordered one of every item on the menu, save for the lamb, in order to sample its breadth).

                                          And I'm sad to disagree with New Trial about the paella. I SPECIFICALLY asked for our two paellas to be a bit on the dry side, and it still came out of the kitchen soggy, with almost no socorrat... Expensive, and nowhere nearly as good as the La Espanola version.

                                          I really wanted to like this Spanish iteration of Marche Moderne. Interestingly, the best paella I've ever eaten was in France (shoveled out from a 1.5 meter paella pan at a farmer's market on a sunny May afternoon in Provence), and not in Spain. Alas, my expectation were a tad too high for this ten-day run.

                                          1. re: J.L.

                                            Might want to try viva madrid http://www.vivamadrid.com/in claremont, ca I haven't had the paella there, but the tapas are good and the sangria is decent. If you want good paella, you might just have to do it the traditional spaniard way and make it at home. Very few people in spain actually order paella in a restaurant other than tourists.

                                            1. re: dlaurin

                                              "Very few people in spain actually order paella in a restaurant other than tourists."

                                              Not true.

                                              1. re: dlaurin

                                                Very few people order paella for dinner other than tourists. But it's popular for lunch. In fact, I can recommend a bunch of places to you THERE. I wish there were someplace HERE.

                                                1. re: Arguitos

                                                  Agree that it's not as popular for dinner.

                                          2. will add to the chorus of la paella on san vicente. Never a fan of cobras and matadors.
                                            the question was good spanish restaurants - not good paella places - although the paella is fine if not earth-shattering.

                                            I love the tapas selection at la paela, like the atmosphere as well. They have mojama sometimes - ask. noton the menu.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Jerome

                                              Stumbled on Cafe Sevilla in Long Beach yesterday. We really enjoyed the decor, ambiance and food. We sat at the bar so service was fine. Viva Madrid in Claremont is the only Spanish restaurant I had been to so I was curious. The basic sangria was good and it was nice to see about 9 different choices for sangria. I believe Viva Madria has only one, which doesn't have near the depth of flavor of Cafe Sevilla. Regarding the food, we had tapas only. Ahi tuna tartar, beef empanada and an olive bread loaf. The Ahi tuna stack was wonderful, beef empanada was good and the bread was great. The tapas at cafe Sevilla are much more generous portions that at Viva Madrid. I know Tapas are just that, small portions, but Viva Madrid's are too small for my liking.

                                              We really enjoyed Cafe Sevilla and will certainly go back.

                                              Viva Madrid
                                              225 Yale Ave Ste B, Claremont, CA 91711

                                            2. Years ago I went to El Cid on Sunset. Had what I remember as great paella. I'm not necessarily recommending the place, but I'm curious if it still serves Spanish cuisine and if so, is it any good?

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: trimtab


                                                Did you eat the paella at El Cid during the late seventies early eaighties? Because that is when it was co-owned by a friend's father a retired falmenco dancer from Madrid named Raoul Martin. He made the paella himself and he was an excellent cook . Unfortunately he no longer owns it and I think it change to Mexican food.

                                                1. re: SeaCook

                                                  We keep meaning to go to El Cid for the flamenco, but my understanding is that it's been Mexican at least as long as I've been an adult (which is longer than I'm comfortable contemplating).

                                                  1. re: Arguitos

                                                    Spanish food left El Cid quite a while ago...