By the time we were finally seated on a very busy Saturday night—quoted an hour and twenty minutes, we waited an hour and forty-five— I was hoping that it had been worth the wait. Happily, the food did not disappoint.
We used our bar time productively, sampling the delicious Sangria (not just red and white, mind you… they have mango, champagne, pomegranate and a few others).
To soak up the alcohol as we passed the time, we ordered the Plato de Jamon y Queso Manchego ($7.95), lovely rosy slices of Serrano ham and paper-thin Manchego drizzled with olive oil, and the Pan con Tomate a la Catalana ($6.95), basically a Spanish version of bruschetta. Both vanished, along with the marinated olives that were continually replenished.
When our beeper did finally light up and buzz, we were a bit lit up ourselves. But no matter! Off we went to our table near the window, which actually felt set apart from the busy bar hum, and it was quite cozy.
Tapas are meant to be shared, which makes it perfect for either a group or a romantic tête à tête.
The Tortilla Espanola ($6.50), a room temperature Spanish omelet with sautéed onions and potatoes, was among the best I’ve ever tried. Moist, potatoey, and beautifully seasoned, it was served with roasted pepper strips.
The Delicias Andaluzas ($7.75), sun-dried, bacon-wrapped dates with a red bell pepper puree laced with sherry vinegar, were another best in class. Another big winner was the Pincho de Solomillo con Champinones y Cebollitas ($7.50), tender grilled chunks of beef tenderloin served over crispy shoestring potatoes, drizzled with sour cream sauce.
We also loved the Patatas Bravas ($6.75), fried chunks of potato with a creamy cayenne sauce, just the right amount of spicy, and the Calamares a la Romana ($8.50), tender fried squid rings (that could benefit from a crunchier breading) with a sweet and hot sun-dried tomato alioli.
Hard to believe we still had room left—and honestly, I’m leaving out a few dishes that were tasty but not earth-shattering—but as the waiter spooned Paella Valenciana ($14.95 per person, but “for two” is plenty for four, especially after a sea of tapas) brimming with roast chicken and pork, Spanish chorizo, clams, mussels, peas and sautéed peppers, we grumbled loudly about how very full we were, then proceeded to polish it off, accompanied by the last few sips of red Sangria.
If you have room for dessert, try the Arroz con Leche a la Tia Maria ($5.95), a lovely version of Spanish rice pudding redolent of citrus and cinnamon, or the Delicias de Chocolate ($6.95) an impossibly rich slab of frozen chocolate mousse flavored with Gran Torres and served with Raspberry sauce. Pass on the espresso, which was the only loser in the night’s sea of success.
If you go to La Tasca on a weekend night, be prepared to wait. They do take limited reservations for parties of 5 or more, so get a group together, make a call, and enjoy some of the best and most authentic tapas in the Chicago area.