Hopefully my wife and I will be going to the Mediterranean coast of Spain this summer and need several primers. Where shall we go around here to get our game face on ?
oh you don't need primers, just a study of vocabulary for reading the menu.
OK, for traditional and a bit stuffy, but then some Spaniards can be rather formal, Taberna del Alabardero
for fun and lively as the coast is usually less formal than say, Madrid, Jaleo www.jaleo.com/
think fish fish and fish.
but there are so many overlaps in Mediterranean foods, anyplace that specializes in that mega-region, will likely have similar items. remember, the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Venetians, Ottomans, etc. traded the Sea for millenia and mix and matched foods so much the differences, while significant, are small.
My husband lived in Spain for a year and he said the most legit place in DC is Taberna del Alberdero. We love their tapas happy hour (a great deal considering how expensive that restaurant can be at times).
Also Jaleo is wonderful for a tapas experience.
There are quite a few tapas-focused places in the DC area, where you can find a full menu of tapas. This is not customary in Spain. Though they do exist, specifically in Madrid, where there are a few chef-driven places that have entirely small plates.
Jaleo would be closest to that experience, though seafood will be the first thing to suffer in the US compared to Spain.
If you go to Jaleo, then get the hamburguesa, the quail in rosemary sauce, patatas braves, and the spinach with raisins.
yeah tapas are more of an inland thing, although the coast has its ideas. seafood in Spain is prevalent and doesn't seem to suffer the way it does in the US. although if you order a whole langoustine in a nice restaurant, I found the staff will be clueless about what utensils you need to crack it and you WILL gather looks. not dismissive, just curious as fingers are simply not used in some establishments.
instead of extra napkins I got a finger bowl!