Santa Fe’s La Boca Serves Up Unforgettable Spanish Tapas
La Boca’s Delectable Bites are a Symphony for the Mouth
by Super G
It was late, but the party was just getting started at La Boca (72 West Marcy Street; 505-982-3433; LaBocasf.com) when we arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Nearly every seat in the cozy restaurant that only has about 40 tables, not including the few seats at the bar, was taken, except for one two person table next to the bar and kitchen. Our hostess welcomed us without reservations and quickly seated us in spite of it clearly being a very busy night. We immediately felt welcomed and in no way like we were being a burden as she showed us to our table.
It was the perfect spot. We had a front row view of all of the dishes servers brought to guests as they were coming from the kitchen and I was able to admire the alcohol selection. Watching the first set of plates come out I noted the presentation of each dish was beautiful. I had a sense that it was going to be a good night, one that was going to be memorable.
It all started with the Bruchetta. There are really good traditional bruchettas in the world, but this isn’t what you typically find and define as “bruchetta.” La Boca’s Bruchetta is a delight in your mouth.
Babes and I could smell the truffle oil as the server set the plate down on the table. The layers of sautéed crimini mushrooms with cream capped with a fried egg and finally topped off with melted Reggianito cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil on top of a crisp slice of baguette. Shoot me now! I’ve died and gone to heaven. Now, like Guy Fieri, I’m not a fan of eggs, but the egg added creaminess to the dish that put it over the top with the truffle oil. If the restaurant ever takes the Bruchetta off the menu there will certainly be a riot. I’m just sayin’.
For a tapas restaurant the menu isn’t overwhelming, but it’s not limiting either. Diners have just the right amount of selections for tapas and there are some dishes offered as entrees. Our server informed us that the Grilled Artichoke garnished with Spanish goat cheese, orange zest and mint; the Tacos de la Boca, which has shrimp and morcilla with a mango, pickled onion and cumber salad wrapped in corn tortillas topped by pimentón agridulce; the Gambas al Ajillo, a spicy garlic shrimp dish mixed with chili de arobol, green onions and white wine; and the Costillas , a tempranillo braised beef short rib, which was accompanied with a vanilla and carrot mash and sautéed brussels sprouts in a tempranillo reduction sauce, were all favorites among locals. Howerver, nearly every dish on the menu was praised by guests, according to our server, so you can’t go wrong no matter what you choose.
We stuck with tapas. In addition to the Bruchetta we ordered the Costillas and the Pincho de Pollo, a chicken skewer that is topped off with sliced green olives and served with an avocado, cucumber tomato salad. We savored each bite, but not every dish was a hit. We also ordered a pork dish that is no longer available, perhaps others agreed with what I found, the pork was lacking in flavor and not very memorable at all.
We paired our tapas with a Tempranillo from the Rijoa, a northern region of Spain.
Babes was wooed by our server with the Chocolate Ganache for desert. It was dark chocolate after all, her favorite, just in a creamy delicious form that I could even appreciate. While it looked decadent and rich, it was actually pretty light and not very sweet. The Ganache was topped off with cookies in a creamy foam of whip cream. For people like me who are allergic to almonds or tree nuts and have a partner with a serious sweet tooth, the Ganache is the only non-nut desert on the menu. Something to note as I was able to enjoy a bit of the after dinner treat.
La Boca immediately was put on our list of restaurants to return to whenever we are in New Mexico again. It doesn’t matter what part of the state we are in, we will make our way back to Santa Fe, just for a taste of La Boca and to check out its sister restaurant that shares a back wall with La Boca, Taberna.
THE DIRTY DISH
La Boca, 72 West Marcy Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87501. 505-982-3433. LaBocaSF.com.
TYPE OF RESTAURANT: Spanish tapas
RATING: 4 = black
(0 inedible – 5 simply scrumptious)
AMBIANCE: The atmosphere is warm and inviting with the dark wood furnishings set against white walls with photographs of food and Spain under the low soft lighting. It creates a sense of being welcomed into a home or special place.
SCENE: Very busy. We quickly learned that locals and visitors to Santa Fe adore La Boca.
SERVICE: The servers were attentive and friendly as they talked about the menu to the bar, even on an incredibly busy night as if there was all the time in the world to answer our questions.
NOISE LEVEL: The noise between the guests to the bar to the kitchen never raised beyond a level that disrupted our conversation nor could we eavesdrop on the conversations at the bar.
RECOMMENDED DISHES: Hands down, the Bruchetta.
SIP: The Tempranillo was full bodied with the perfect balance of dryness and sweetness.
CHECK, PLEASE: $$$$ = Over $30
(price of average dinner/lunch/breakfast/brunch bill for an individual dinner)
THE EAT: I loved the intimate atmosphere and the food was spectacular.
WORTH THE NIGHT OUT?: This was delicious!
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