While walking down West 13th Street, you might simply pass the unobtrusive entrance of this restaurant, with its modest red awning. However, the humble atmosphere and the authentic, uncomplicated cuisine of this 40-year old time capsule make this a location not to be missed.
From the moment you walk in, the small restaurant makes you feel like you’re in an early-20th century Spanish tavern. What makes it so authentic are not the Spanish paintings on the wall, the men in red jackets, or even the name of the restaurant itself – it’s the sheer simplicity and the non-existent feeling that everyone is trying to impress you for some large tip. You receive the warm welcome at the door, you’re kindly served your order, and they let you be. In these ways, it is so emblematic of Spanish culture – passing time in no particular rush and letting others enjoy life.
Upon placing our order for the paella valenciana, we received a barrage of appetizers free-of-charge. Deliciously seared chorizo, salty and sauce laden ribs, mussels filled with a medley of onions, bread, and a salad were all served as if we were royalty. The paella with soft rice, chicken, and an assortment of shellfish was equally filling and appetizing for our main course. But, what made these dishes unique was their simplicity. Other critics may disagree, but the very essence of Spanish cooking is the food’s robust, heavy, and natural character. In a way, the ability of the flavors to at once come together harmoniously yet still stand alone is what makes Spanish food so special.
As Time Out: New York reports, “wonder what Spanish dining was like in the city some 35 years ago?”, this is the very essence of Spain Restaurant. If you’re looking for contemporary tapas fusion, this is not your place. If you need that siesta-inducing, cálmate atmosphere in the fast-paced city, then Spain is exactly what you need.