When you think of Spain, it’s hard to overlook the many delicious flavors that come to life in the country’s food – particularly so in tapas. There’s much speculation about the origins of Tapas – which translates to “cover” – but there are plenty of tales. Myths run wild of bartenders urging sherry drinkers to cover their glasses with thin slices of bread or meat to prevent fruit flies from falling in. No matter the story, tapas have been heavily influenced by introductions of new and diverse spices over time.
Nowadays, tapas are mostly enjoyed as pre-dinner bites, though they can easily translate into wonderfully-diverse dinners.
Walking into LAMANO in the West Village, we’re in for a treat.
This newly-opened neighborhood spot offers a cozy respite from the busy streets of New York and an authentic taste of tapas paired with refreshing drinks. The restaurant is the second Lamano (another is in Chelsea) and has a modern design with reclaimed wood, Spanish accents, a fun neon sign, and a hand-painted map of Spain on its back wall showcasing both restaurant locations.
From what I’ve read, the owners, Jorge Guzman and Chef Partner Mario Hernandez, are “continually inspired by the Spanish tapas tradition during their trips to Spain.”
Guzman was born in the Dominican Republic to a father who owned hotel, restaurant and discotheque businesses, and soon discovered he had his own passion for the hospitality industry. Since his move to New York City, Jorge has opened several restaurants and plans to open more in 2019 – also in the Dominican Republic and Buenos Aires. Chef Hernandez credits his cooking “education” to his grandmother and cooking in her kitchen in Cuernavaca Morelos, Mexico. He immigrated to New York City with his father in 16 but always sticks to his roots and uses the flavors of home to inspire his dishes.
Tapas, Tapas, Tapas
Our menu for the evening consists of seafood, meats, and cheese all selected by Lamano’s chef and presented by general manager, Diego Nuñez, a native of Galicia, Spain. In talking to Diego, his passion for food, drink, and Spanish culture really shines through.
As we wait for our food, we’re sipping on deliciously, refreshing Red and Cava sangria – a nice breather from the heat.
Diego starts bringing out dishes to try from patatas bravas (crispy potatoes with spicy salsa brava) to Pulpo a Feira (poaches octopus with potatoes in olive oil and pimenton) to foie gras with wild berries and boquerones (white anchovies in picual olive oil with pickled piparra).
We order signature cocktails that pair nicely with the various tapas. My favorite is the El Betis consisting of white vermouth, cucumber juice, and pepper, while the other drink is a Sherry Cobbler (Amontadllio sherry, pineapple syrup, lemon, orange, and cherry).
As we’re still nibbling, the next group of tapas arrives: gambas al ajillo (red shrimp with garlic and quindilla peppers), chistorra a la sidra (basque-spiced sausage with apple cider), croquetas de jamon (a personal favorite of serrano ham croquetas with cheese), higos con jamon (jamon serrano with figs; deliciously spiced), and a tortilla (free range eggs, potato confit, caramelized onions and truffle oil).
We’re filling up quickly, but Diego brings us a final treat. He’s holding a hand-selected specialty for dessert: the Tinto & Blanco Lustau, a delicious sherry paired with an orange peel and rich botanical accents.
If you’re looking for authentic tapas, refreshing drinks, and a cozy vibe, why not try Lamano next? I promise it won’t disappoint.
About the Author
Nicolette Orlemans writes for Mezze Weekly in New York City. She grew up in a multicultural, bilingual home in The Netherlands to a Polish mother and a Dutch father. She is currently based in New York City, where she works as a communications strategist. When she’s not working, Nicolette loves to travel, and has visited much of Europe, seen many of the U.S. states, and traveled to Egypt. In November 2014, Nicolette founded #CultureTrav, a Twitter chat that focuses on how travelers personally experience travel – adapting to cultural differences, bridging any language gaps, creating new homes as expats, and much more. For more information, visit her website.