Cuisine: Spanish Tapas
Address: 345 E 12th St. New York, NY
Pata Negra is a small Spanish wine bar that specializes in artisanal hams and cheese. It’s not super hyped up, it doesn’t have a fancy website, it’s not the craziest or most gourmet food I’ve had in my life. However, it’s still worthy of your time and money for a few key reasons. The first and most important reason is that they have successfully transferred that Barcelona feeling to New York City. If you have ever lived abroad or even traveled to another country, you often find yourself wishing you could recreate certain aspects of your time there. Certainly the dining experience is one of them, even if it annoyed you at the time (stupid Siesta!). Pata Negra’s small brick space, dimly lit, with Spanish waiters and close seating quarters (it seats only 25 people, that’s like the size of my school class in 3rd grade) is distinctly reminiscent of a typical restaurant in Spain. Or maybe it’s just the delicious Sangria.
In true Spanish fashion, Pata Negra is not open for lunch, working hours being sporadic depending on the day of the week. If you want to feel like you’re really in Barcelona, it’s open until 1am on Saturdays (Spaniards eat dinner quite late!). Besides the authentic Spanish feel, the reasons to go continue: 2. you can usually get seated in a reasonable wait time, 3. the food is consistently good (cheese comes from the Bedford Cheese Shop!), 4. the crowd isn’t too shabby, and 5. it’s not too loud but it’s not pretentious either.
If you are visiting New York City, this isn’t a “must go to” the way other distinctly New York restaurants are, with artistic visions or provisions you can’t find elsewhere in the world. Like it’s owner, who is born and raised in NYC, Pata Negra is a place for people who live in NYC. This is the spot if you want a no fuss, good dinner with a date or a group of friends. Awesome Sangria and high quality food at a reasonable price, with a little European atmosphere to top it off!
El Chivo Patitas: The menu can be confusing if you don’t know Spanish, and probably even if you think you do know Spanish because you took classes in High School or College. Because honestly I took Italian and if the only description of a dish was “goat quince” in Italian I would be mighty confused. It turns out quince isn’t even a Spanish word, it’s some kind of weird fruit described as: “A hard, acid, pear-shaped fruit used in preserves or as flavoring” according to Google. Anyways, everyone says to get this. It’s like Spanish Bruschetta but with deliciously creamy goat cheese and this quince spread, which is sweet and bitter at the same time. A really nice starter. It’s under the section labeled “Patitas” and there are 4 other options to confuse you as well as the option to have a tasting of 5 for 10 dollars. Just ask your waiter or waitress if you are confused, ours was very helpful and very Spanish (aka slow).
Empanaditas – Turnovers of the day: Well, the turnover of the day was a Spinach and Ricotta empanada with a paprika sauce. It tasted nice and was clearly baked versus fried like the street kind. These didn’t blow my mind or anything, they tasted warm and home-like. Almost like a really, really high end Hot Pocket. Please don’t take that the wrong way. I even like Hot Pockets sometimes. My advice is to get these if the flavor of the day sounds dreamy, but if the flavor of the day doesn’t excite you, then pass.
Gambas Al Ajillo – Shrimp, garlic: Oh yeah, this was nice. Granted, it’s hard to screw up garlic shrimp, but this is very delicious, buttery, garlic shrimp, complete with a bowl of fresh bread for dipping into the buttery remnants. Get this.
Tortilla – Classic spanish omelet: This is super simple Spanish fair. They love their eggs and potatoes in a pie like form. This was a good one. Again, not something you’ve never had before that will blow your mind, but something that tastes really good and you want to keep shoveling it into your mouth.
Dessert: I’m almost always disappointed with dessert, especially cake, but not this time! This dulce de leche cake with a cream and mango filling was actually really good. It wasn’t too heavy due to the fruity flavors but it was the perfect sweet item to end with. Props to you Pata Negra for exceeding my pastry expectations!
The only thing I regret is not trying more of the cheese and meat offerings since that is what they specialize in. But not to fear, I have no doubt I will be back soon!
Sangria: How could I end the review without talking about the Sangria. Oh Sangria, you are so delicious. I have had bad Sangria and good Sangria and this, my friends, is good Sangria. It compliments all of the food perfectly and boy does it make me long for the days of sitting on top of the world in Barcelona with a pitcher of Sangria and the sun on my face. (ugh nostalgia is killing me, I’m going to have to include a picture now so you get the point.)
Oh Barcelona! Take me back! (but until that happens, I’ll be at Pata Negra)