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10 Classic Spanish Restaurants to Try Before You Die

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12212312123123112008_10_hasmaps-thumb%20%281%29%20%281%29_burg.jpgHere's a guide to 10 classic Spanish restaurants in New York City. These aren't the modern imports from Andalucia, the sleek tapas bars, or the studied restaurants that try to highlight the regionality of Spanish cooking. These are the unironic places that were around before all of that and remain in business, where you'll likely find lots of garlic and green sauces, obligatory pitchers of sangria, and waiters that have just always been there. On this list, you'll find restaurants that are delightfully tawdry (El Quijote, Spain Restaurant) and show their age (Sevilla, Riazor). At these places, the main attraction might not always be the food. But there are some restaurants, like Toledo and La Nacional, where the kitchens do good stuff. Here's the map:


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Sevilla Restaurant

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62 Charles St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 243-9513
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Now that El Faro is gone, you'll have to head to Sevilla for your classic Spanish fix in the West Village. Defiantly, charmingly the restaurant sits on a stretch of West 4th Street that these days is populated by much buzzier places. Thankfully, though, it's not a ghost town: the dining room always manages to fill with enough folks who want to sit on worn-out red banquettes and eat tortilla and stuffed peppers. [Photo Credit]

2. El Charro Español

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4 Charles Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 242-9547
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This basement restaurant has been around for over sixty years and remains good for both nostalgia and food. The dining room is pleasantly plain and doesn't feature many tawdry accents, and dishes like the veal in almond sauce and caldo gallego are delicious. [Photo Credit]

3. Spain Restaurant

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113 W. 13th St.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 929-9580
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When Brooks of Sheffield wrote about Spain Restaurant (est. 1960) in his Who Goes There? column, he focused more on the strange layout of the place than the food. At one point, he noted that there were "a couple hidden dining alcoves, including one that would be perfect for clandestine trysts and/or backroom political deals." He also discovered that the waiters were all Spanish, the food was just fine, the art was tacky, and that the bar tends to get busy. He was right. [Photo Credit]

4. La Nacional

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239 W.14th St
New York, NY 10011
(212) 627-4770
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This restaurant in the basement of the Spanish Benevolent Society (est. 1868) has all the trappings of your typical Spanish tapas spot: a nondescript bar, soccer on the TV, and old men drinking pints of beer. The menu appears somewhat standard, too, until you try it and realize it's some of the best of its kind in the city. That's thanks to owner Lolo Manso, who manages La Nacional, as well as the newer, more popular Socarrat paella restaurants. Those same rice dishes are available here, as are delicious fried artichokes, garlic shrimp, and chorizo. [Photo Credit]

5. Cafe Riazor

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245 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 727-2132
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Riazor has been going strong since the 70s. It remains the perfect place to drop in on during a hungover weekend afternoon, when you don't want to deal with cool people and would rather eat patatas bravas and proteins enhanced by lots of garlic sauce. [Photo Credit]

6. Francisco's Centro Vasco

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159 W 23rd St.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 645-6224
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Though it's got "Basque" in its name, don't come to Centro Vasco expecting modern pintxos or work inspired by Arzak. This is a New York oldie, where simple grilled lobster is the move. You may want to think twice before trying the namesake version, which comes with a slice of Swiss cheese on top. But, if you think about it, that's kind of a progressive flourish, no?

7. El Quijote

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226 W 23rd St.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 929-1855
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Almost psychedelic in its kitschiness, El Quijote, which is located on the ground floor of the Chelsea Hotel, has design accents that might be more intricate than the novel that inspires the place. Not to mention the menu's just about as long as the book. The restaurant has been around for eighty years and remains the go-to spot those who yearn for the comforts of sangria and gloppy sauces — be they green, wine, or of another kind — to go with their seafood. It's a pretty neat experience. [Photo Credit]

8. Toledo

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6 E 36th St
New York, NY 10016
(212) 696-5036
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Toledo's about as close as you can get to eating a classic Madrid meal in New York. For that reason, it's always filled with Spanish diplomats, businessmen, and expats. The restaurant occupies the ground floor of a townhouse on 36th Street, and its dining room and menu echo a lot of what you'll find at the other places listed on this map. Except at Toledo, things are a lot less kitschy and way tastier. Among the many standouts on the menu is pollo villeroy, a chicken breast coated in bechamel sauce and then breaded and fried, as well as a perfectly executed natilla custard for dessert. [Photo Credit]

9. El Pote

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718 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10016
(212) 889-6680
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El Pote in Murray Hill has been in business for nearly three decades, and practically nothing about the restaurant has changed in that time in that time — not the waiters, not the signed headshots of folks like Ernie Anastos on the walls, and not the menus (except the whited-out prices that have had to be marked up). People who come in tend to go for the paella, which is all right and not terribly authentic, but the crispy garlic chicken, yellow rice, and crunchy "patatas" are a tastier call. [Photo Credit]

10. El Boqueron

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3101 34th Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11106
(718) 956-0107
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You don't hear much about El Boqueron in Astoria, but a good number of people swear by it. Most go for the seafood – dishes like baby squid in garlic sauce and, of course, anchovies in sherry vinegar — as well as the relatively low prices. [Photo Credit]

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1. Sevilla Restaurant

62 Charles St, New York, NY 10014
Now that El Faro is gone, you'll have to head to Sevilla for your classic Spanish fix in the West Village. Defiantly, charmingly the restaurant sits on a stretch of West 4th Street that these days is populated by much buzzier places. Thankfully, though, it's not a ghost town: the dining room always manages to fill with enough folks who want to sit on worn-out red banquettes and eat tortilla and stuffed peppers. [Photo Credit]
62 Charles St
New York, NY 10014

2. El Charro Español

4 Charles Street, New York, NY 10014
This basement restaurant has been around for over sixty years and remains good for both nostalgia and food. The dining room is pleasantly plain and doesn't feature many tawdry accents, and dishes like the veal in almond sauce and caldo gallego are delicious. [Photo Credit]
4 Charles Street
New York, NY 10014

3. Spain Restaurant

113 W. 13th St., New York, NY 10011
When Brooks of Sheffield wrote about Spain Restaurant (est. 1960) in his Who Goes There? column, he focused more on the strange layout of the place than the food. At one point, he noted that there were "a couple hidden dining alcoves, including one that would be perfect for clandestine trysts and/or backroom political deals." He also discovered that the waiters were all Spanish, the food was just fine, the art was tacky, and that the bar tends to get busy. He was right. [Photo Credit]
113 W. 13th St.
New York, NY 10011

4. La Nacional

239 W.14th St, New York, NY 10011
This restaurant in the basement of the Spanish Benevolent Society (est. 1868) has all the trappings of your typical Spanish tapas spot: a nondescript bar, soccer on the TV, and old men drinking pints of beer. The menu appears somewhat standard, too, until you try it and realize it's some of the best of its kind in the city. That's thanks to owner Lolo Manso, who manages La Nacional, as well as the newer, more popular Socarrat paella restaurants. Those same rice dishes are available here, as are delicious fried artichokes, garlic shrimp, and chorizo. [Photo Credit]
239 W.14th St
New York, NY 10011

5. Cafe Riazor

245 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
Riazor has been going strong since the 70s. It remains the perfect place to drop in on during a hungover weekend afternoon, when you don't want to deal with cool people and would rather eat patatas bravas and proteins enhanced by lots of garlic sauce. [Photo Credit]
245 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011

6. Francisco's Centro Vasco

159 W 23rd St., New York, NY 10011
Though it's got "Basque" in its name, don't come to Centro Vasco expecting modern pintxos or work inspired by Arzak. This is a New York oldie, where simple grilled lobster is the move. You may want to think twice before trying the namesake version, which comes with a slice of Swiss cheese on top. But, if you think about it, that's kind of a progressive flourish, no?
159 W 23rd St.
New York, NY 10011

7. El Quijote

226 W 23rd St., New York, NY 10011
Almost psychedelic in its kitschiness, El Quijote, which is located on the ground floor of the Chelsea Hotel, has design accents that might be more intricate than the novel that inspires the place. Not to mention the menu's just about as long as the book. The restaurant has been around for eighty years and remains the go-to spot those who yearn for the comforts of sangria and gloppy sauces — be they green, wine, or of another kind — to go with their seafood. It's a pretty neat experience. [Photo Credit]
226 W 23rd St.
New York, NY 10011

8. Toledo

6 E 36th St, New York, NY 10016
Toledo's about as close as you can get to eating a classic Madrid meal in New York. For that reason, it's always filled with Spanish diplomats, businessmen, and expats. The restaurant occupies the ground floor of a townhouse on 36th Street, and its dining room and menu echo a lot of what you'll find at the other places listed on this map. Except at Toledo, things are a lot less kitschy and way tastier. Among the many standouts on the menu is pollo villeroy, a chicken breast coated in bechamel sauce and then breaded and fried, as well as a perfectly executed natilla custard for dessert. [Photo Credit]
6 E 36th St
New York, NY 10016

9. El Pote

718 2nd Ave., New York, NY 10016
El Pote in Murray Hill has been in business for nearly three decades, and practically nothing about the restaurant has changed in that time in that time — not the waiters, not the signed headshots of folks like Ernie Anastos on the walls, and not the menus (except the whited-out prices that have had to be marked up). People who come in tend to go for the paella, which is all right and not terribly authentic, but the crispy garlic chicken, yellow rice, and crunchy "patatas" are a tastier call. [Photo Credit]
718 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10016

10. El Boqueron

3101 34th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11106
You don't hear much about El Boqueron in Astoria, but a good number of people swear by it. Most go for the seafood – dishes like baby squid in garlic sauce and, of course, anchovies in sherry vinegar — as well as the relatively low prices. [Photo Credit]
3101 34th Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11106

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