Before there was the Chelsea favorite Socarrat Paella Bar and its new little sibling Socarrat Bar de Vinos, there was La Nacional, the Socarrat owner Lolo Manso's first foray into addictive paella and tapas in the basement of the Spanish Benevolent Society. The restaurant never had the same fevered following as the newer versions, but it serves similar food at cheaper prices in what some would consider a more charmed setting—hidden on the north side of 14th Street, a stark barroom area filled with Spanish old-timers leads into a quaint dark dining room.
Anyway, it's great, it's beloved by the likes of Ed Levine and chef Alex Raij, and it's been closed by the Health Dept. for the last three weeks. The windows to the restaurant are papered over, but the owner says he hopes to reopen by next week. Let's hope he does.
· La Nacional [DOH]
· All DOH Chronicles [~ENY~]