Restaurant: Boqueria Soho
Cuisine: Eclectic/Pacific Northwest/Gastropub/Local
Last visited: September 3, 2011
Location: Manhattan, NY (Soho)
Address: 171 Spring St
Nearby subway stops:
A or E to Spring St – Walk east on Spring St
N or R to Prince – Walk south on Broadway, right on Spring St
Price Range: $10-20 for brunch, $20-30+ dinner
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- 2 locations in Manhattan
- Flatiron location since 2006
- Soho location since 2008
- Specializes in tapas (Barcelona style)
- Award winning/Zagat Rated
- Local/Seasonal menu
- Eclectic menu
- Eco-friendly foods
- Sophisticated/modern atmosphere
- Local favourite
- Good for groups
- Vegetarian friendly
- Wine bar
- Monday – Sunday: Noon to Midnight
- Brunch Saturday & Sunday, Noon to 4pm
**Recommendations: Croquetas Cremosas (Croquettes), Pintxos Morunos (Seared lamb), Dátiles con Beicon (Stuffed dates), Buñuelos de Bacalao (Salt cod fritters), Torrija y Helado (Spanish toast for dessert)
If I could pick 5 of the 58 restaurants I tried during Follow Me Foodie in New York and bring it back to Vancouver, BC I would strongly consider picking this one. Our Spanish and Latin cuisine in Vancouver is limited to start with, and this would certainly settle a craving. It’s traditional, yet modern, and models itself off the Boqueria Spanish Market and some of the best tapas bars and restaurants in Barcelona.
I discovered this restaurant purely by research. Tapas style dining is one of my favourite ways of dining, so it is better to come with a group. However, even if you’re 1-2 people, I’d still consider checking it out for a few of their must try items. Tapas is all about snacking anyways and that’s the crowd Boqueria aims to attract.
It’s definitely a posh, trendy and contemporary restaurant, but the portion and prices deliver along with the food. The high table tops and high chairs are all about casual dining and eye level communication with their servers. The only other tapas style bar like this I tried in New York was Traif in Brooklyn. I think I liked them about the same, but they are different in style and Boqueria is perhaps slightly more refined. In a way it could be considered similar to Cobre Nuevo Latino in Vancouver, but more so in the atmosphere and not really in the food.
The menu is extensive and they offer brunch, lunch, dinner and everything in between. The in between is the highlight and features traditional and modern tapas that are perfect for anytime. They also offer Spanish cured meats and cheeses and there’s a good balance of local and imported ingredients to showcase what Barcelona has to offer in the context of New York. I almost ordered their entire tapas menu, and honestly there wasn’t anything that wasn’t good, just things that were better and I would come back for those things in a heartbeat.
On the table:
- Boqueria’s signature red, rosé or white Sangria $9 glass / 34 pitcher
- The signature red was great and it wasn’t too sweet and still nice and tart from the lemon.
- It wasn’t that spiced though and there wasn’t any apparent cinnamon or spices.
- It was simple, great wine, fresh and fruity.
- Fried quail eggs and chorizo on toast $6
- This reminded me of the Bacon & Egg tapas from Juda’s Goat Taberna in Vancouver, except this one was more authentic.
- I know it sounds like a simple appetizer, and it is quite standard of any Spanish tapas bar, but what I was curious to try was their chorizo.
- Chorizo is one of Spain’s national foods so I wanted to see if this was legit. And it was!
- It was meaty, well cured, oily, but not greasy, not too salty and had a gradual heat and spice. It was noticeably spicy alone, but eaten with everything else, it was quite mild.
- The crostini was crunchy and the quail’s egg yolk was runny, so everything was spot on.
- The chorizo was flavourful enough that it required no additional sauce.
- If you enjoy chorizo, I would recommend ordering it alone and you can probably skip this tapa.
- Seared lamb marinated in lemon and cumin, “salsa verde” $9 (2 skewers for $9)
- The lamb was executed as kebabs and it seemed house ground. It was served medium well on top of toast.
- It was melt in your mouth tender, juicy, mildly gamey, smoky, lemony, well marinated and grilled, but not crispy sausage.
- There were some caramelized shallots on top, but they weren’t quite sweet yet.
- My favourite part was actually the very fresh salsa verde which helped cut the grease from the sausage.
- It was a very vibrant, bright and tangy salsa made with pureed cilantro, a little jalapeno, lime juice, garlic, and onions and it was much more herby than it was tomatillo based.
- The tapas was drizzled with shallot oil so it was quite aromatic with a mild spice and almost like a Spanish style gourmet hot dog.
- At times, the flavours reminded me of Middle Eastern cuisine too.
- Dates stuffed with almonds and Valdeón, wrapped in bacon $7
- These are one of the house favourites.
- I love these in general. I order stuffed dates wrapped in bacon all the time. Most of the time they’ll all taste the same, but I still enjoy them.
- It was an ultra creamy, rich and plump, sweet and moist date, wrapped with crispy thick and smoky bacon, and stuffed with a nutty crunch of a whole almond.
- The only thing was, was that I couldn’t taste the Valdeón, which is a Spanish blue cheese. It would have been amazing if I could taste it.
- I usually prefer them glazed or served in some sweet and salty sauce, or a balsamic vinaigrette, but these were still excellent.
- The first time I had them was years ago from Firefly in Vegas, then most recently was from Tasty n Sons in Portland – see their Griddled Bacon Wrapped Dates.
- Two beef and potato croquettes, “salsa brava,” garlic aioli $8 (2 for $8)
- The portion was quite large and the croquettes were pretty much the size of pool table balls.
- These were very good, but I wouldn’t say it’s a must try here and they are a bit expected.
- They looked dense, but they were actually light and fluffy and the creamy mashed potato layer was thin, buttery and very soft with a crispy thin breadcrumb crust.
- It was generously stuffed with beef and the beef wasn’t juicy, but it wasn’t dry either.
- The beef was loosely packed almost like a meatball and it was a bit spicy.
- It was finely ground and tender beef and I kept thinking how much better it would be if it was veal mixed with beef, or if it was braised beef short rib. I wouldn’t mind smaller croquettes in exchange for those meats.
- It was served with a salsa brava which is basically a spicy garlicky tomato sauce, and together with the beef it was almost like deconstructed spicy Italian meat sauce.
- The garlic aioli was thick and creamy and very garlicky and it was a nice balance to the acidic tomato sauce, but I almost wanted more of both sauces to finish the jumbo croquettes.
- Traditional egg and potato Spanish omelet $7
- It’s basically a potato omelette.
- If you’ve had an authentic one before, like one cooked by Mrs. _insert Spanish last name here_, then these will not cut it.
- This is one of the most popular tapas in Spain and it was very popular at the restaurant too, but they just didn’t make them well or even that fresh.
- I’ve been lucky to have enjoyed many home made ones and this just seemed like a completely different menu item.
- The execution wasn’t as great because the potatoes are supposed to by thin and layered and not cut in chunks like that.
- The potatoes were buttery, creamy and tender, but there was more potato than egg and it didn’t melt in my mouth, nor was it served very warm.
- It was dense and stiff rather than airy light and it was perhaps due to the fact that they were premade and ready to serve.
- The egg was not overcooked, but it was fully cooked like quiche, and the tortilla patat (the traditional name for this dish) is best when the middle is still a bit runny and soft and the egg is all fluffy.
- Sautéed spinach, garbanzos, pine nuts, garlic, raisins $8
- The portion is pretty good and it is made well.
- Although very good, this is something you could make at home so I don’t think you have to order it here unless you really need a vegetable.
- It was lightly sauteed spinach and garlic with crunchy buttery bites of pine nuts and sweet raisins.
- Although there wasn’t a ton of pine nuts, the chick peas helped aid to the nutty texture, but it would be better if they had been deep fried.
- Almonds or walnuts would make a great substitution, although less traditional, but at least there would be more of them.
- For something similar in Vancouver try the Crispy Ceci at Campagnolo.
- Creamy croquettes; three each of mushroom and Serrano ham $12
- This is one of my favourite things I had on the whole trip. This is a must try.
- I love Spanish croquettes and I’ve had them home made by Spanish moms and even made them myself, but these were probably the best I’ve had ever.
- The mushroom ones were even better than the Serrano ham ones, but ham croquettes are the most common in Spain.
- Mushroom Croquette – 6/6
- It was a very light and crispy breadcrumb batter and they melted in my mouth like butter.
- I barely had to chew them and it was almost like eating pure bechamel sauce with a hint of truffle oil to enhance that mushroom flavour.
- It was stuffed with a rich and saucy wild mushroom filling that just oozed out creamy goodness.
- Serrano Ham Croquette – 5.5/6
- These were just as rich, indulgent and melt in your mouth as the mushroom ones, but the flavour was just better in the mushroom.
- The ham they used was nicely cured and it was a very finely shredded ham and not a meaty thick one that you had to chew.
- The ham was cooked in the same bechamel sauce as the mushroom, but I think it was the extra bit of truffle oil that really set them apart.
- Salt-cod fritters, citrus aioli $11
- It was little bite sized fritters with an extremely light and crispy batter reminiscent of fish n’ chips.
- It was probably equal amount of of shredded cod and potatoes and I would have liked more salted cod, but it was still excellent.
- It was a moist, flaky and creamy mashed salty cod with lots of lemon and parsley served with a citrus aioli that tasted like a combination of mayo and yogurt.
- It was really like Spanish fish and chips, but I liked how light they were.
- Baby squid, frisée, romesco vinaigrette, tomato confit, crispy scallions $13
- The salad was better than the description but in terms of salad, my most memorable was at Traif – see Pink Figs. It’s comparing apples to oranges, but I really remember that one.
- It came with a decent amount of squid which was tender and not chewy at all.
- I was hoping it would be a bit more charred and perhaps seasoned with some fresh herbs, but it was salty enough.
- I loved the crispy deep fried chives which were sweet and caramelized.
- The frisee was lightly dressed with a smoky, sweet, citrusy and slightly spicy Romesco salsa vinaigrette.
- The confit tomato was a highlight and it melted in my mouth while retaining its sweet juices and smoky flavour that was infused throughout.
- Instead of frisee I would have preferred endives, and some chorizo would have been a great addition with the squid.
- Overall I just felt the salad could have used a couple more ingredients without overpowering the squid.
- Lamb meatballs in tomato sauce, sheep’s milk cheese $14
- This was good, but it just seemed almost Italian to me and it wasn’t unique to the restaurant.
- They were very heavily sauced large ground lamb meatballs and they were tender and a bit spicy and mildly gamey.
- The tomato sauce just tasted similar to the salsa brava salsa and was made with tomato paste, pureed tomatoes, onions and garlic.
- The creamy, soft and fluffy sheep’s milk cheese added a richness and balanced the acidity and spice and it was a good quality cheese, so I liked that alone.
- The cucumbers were a bit random, but it made for texture.
- I could have used more basil leaves and just something more because I had a whole lot of leftover sauce in the end and the execution and dish didn’t seem complete.
- Shrimp, garlic and Guindilla pepper in olive oil $13
- Ugh! I know! Sorry! Excuse the ugly photo, I accidentally deleted the better one.
- I would have loved if the shrimp included the shells and the heads for more flavour, but I can understand how the majority might not appreciate that.
- It was tender and crunchy shrimp swimming in a rich and fruity olive oil butter sauce with lots of garlic, white wine, lemon, parsley and Guindilla pepper for some spice.
- The pepper isn’t hot and almost a bit sweet, very tangy and pickled with some vinegar, and it infused its flavours into the sauce.
- The combination of ingredients seemed simple enough, but it was done well.
- It was almost like a shrimp scampi with all the garlic, and the sauce is not to be wasted. It would be great with mussels too.
- It was served with a good amount of fluffy soft home made bread that absorbed all the flavours of the sauce nicely like a sponge.
- Seafood Paella of monkfish, sepia, squid, shrimp, clams, mussels $19pp (min 2 orders)
- The paella was made fresh upon order so the timing was there and you could tell in the consistency of the rice, but the seafood was pretty weak.
- The rice was nicely toasted, nutty, crispy, firm and a bit chewy, and almost creamy like a risotto, but not clumpy or wet.
- It was moist and well flavoured with rich seafood stock, tomato paste and likely some white wine and the seafood flavour really came through.
- The grains could have been a little more separate, because it shouldn’t be like a risotto, but the bottom and sides were crispy like Chinese rice served in clay pots which I love.
- I couldn’t taste much saffron in the rice though, but it was still aromatic from everything else.
- More saffron and less tomato wouldn’t have been bad and I could use some peas which is common in paella.
- The seafood had two small pieces of boneless skinless monkfish that were crispy, moist, but bland.
- There was also some overcooked shrimp, tender baby squid, baby octopus, and tiny clams and mussels that were a bit dried out.
- The whole thing was drizzled with a salsa verde that was strong with parsley and more like a tangy, bright and zesty herb puree.
- There was a smokiness, and mild spice to the paella, and had the seafood been better and the rice more separate it would have been excellent.
- Caramelized “Spanish toast,” yogurt ice-cream $7 (Takes about 20 minutes)
- I’m a fan of bread puddings, hot and cold desserts, and anything served with ice cream, so naturally I loved this!
- It takes a long time to prepare, but it’s so worth it because it’s so fresh and baked upon order.
- It was pretty much a bread pudding meets a French toast and it was super fluffy and soft bread similar to that Asian sweet egg bread.
- It was almost like a bread box so it had visual appeal and it made it extra fluffy, but with less surface area to crisp up.
- The outside was crispy with a sugary toasted exterior and it wasn’t as moist and spongy as French toast but it was reminiscent.
- It was a very substantial dessert and it wasn’t too sweet, and the texture of the bread was light and airy.
- It was served with refreshing yogurt ice cream that slowly melted into the bread and made it even better.
- It was almost like eating creamy sour dough French Toast.
- It made a difference that it was home made bread, fresh from the oven (actually took 20 minutes to make and bake), and if anything I could have used more ice cream to finish off the amount of bread there was.
- There was also a drizzle of dulche de leche to give it that Spanish touch.