Cafe Espanol

If you're ever in the mood to have more food than your stomach can possibly stomach...head over to Cafe Espanol.  We've been here a couple of times as per Alex's suggestion.  Each time, I've had enough food to last me around three full meals.

Cafe Espanol is a dark, crowded restaurant on Bleeker Street. They have cute tile mosaics and murals on the wall.  It is darkly lit and quite romantic.  They serve authentic Spanish food like paella and tapas and seafood dishes.  I've had a few different dishes and I can attest that whatever I've eaten has always been delicious.

The first time I came here, I had a seafood paella.  When the waiter brought out some rice and shellfish on a plate, I was a little disappointed.  I didn't just get rice and shellfish on a plate! eyes lit up when he set down something else on the table next to me: a heavy, sizzling cast-iron skillet with the rest of my paella in it.  Legit!  If you add up the total amount of food on the plate and in the skillet, it's seriously like three meals' worth; I've never finished my meal at Cafe Espanol.  For about $20, I'd definitely say it's worth it!

The seafood paella is one of my favorite things at Cafe Espanol.  This is ironic because if you asked me approximately two years ago, I would have been turned-off by seafood.  When I was younger, I really reluctantly ate seafood, and only under two conditions: if my mom forced it on my plate at dinner, or if it came in the form of a square, deep-fried filet with cheese and tartar sauce sandwiched between a bun....  I was even more averse to shellfish like clams, mussels, and oysters.  Shrimp, crab, and lobster, okay - but again, only if mommy peeled the shells off and gave me the juicy, fleshy meat.  That all changed when we went on spring break in Rome and I ordered a seafood risotto out of adventurousness.  I found I really enjoyed all types of seafood and even didn't mind digging out the meat from shellfish.  Revelation!

Cafe Espanol's seafood paella consists of yellow rice and an assortment of seafood: squid rings, shrimp, scallops, clams, and mussels.  There is a good ratio between rice and seafood bits.  The rice is flavorful on its own, and has a good toothsome quality, not mushy or soggy.  The seafood is always tender and tasty.  I've found that, like my experience at Saint's Alp Teahouse, this dish tastes even better as leftovers.  So, really, if you only have $20 on you but would like to eat well for the whole day, or even two days, head over to Cafe Espanol.