An A for attitude is what I would have given Tapas y Tintos on South Beach’s Española Way when I visited it a few years ago. A genial bartender introduced a spiky-haired colleague as el Pájaro Loco, Spanish for Woody Woodpecker, with another meaning, about his orientation, implicit in the nickname. When I tipped, the staff thanked me en masse, a shtick I remembered from a Madrid tapas bar. Fun stuff. The food? Forgettable. The new Midtown Tapas y Tintos is a different animal. The staff is friendly and helpful, but not wise-ass. And the tapas are good.
Ambience: The restaurant is near the busy intersection of Northeast Second Avenue and 36th Street, which is the good and bad news. It is on the way home for many, making it a tempting after-work stop, but heavy traffic is no friend of outdoor diners. The restaurant has gotten around this by rimming its patio with a tall, tight row of shrubbery, creating an inviting space. Indeed, Tapas y Tintos has made the best of an oddly shaped and located space. Many eateries have come and gone here, but this one appears to have staying power. Live music five nights a week — sometimes complete with salsa lessons or flamenco — can make for a raucous scene.
- Fluffy tortilla española
- Crunchy & light croquetas that arrive standing like little soldiers in a tiny fry basket, a pair each of codfish, spinach and ham
- A tasty serving of shrimp and mushrooms seasoned with onion and garlic and spiked with small, chewy cubes of Serrano ham
- Very good, though undersalted, cuttlefish a la plancha
- Excellent pimientos del piquillo stuffed with a traditional codfish brandade with a creamy & soft filling
- Sangria thick with fruit and spiced with a hint of cinnamon
- A bottle of Abadia Retuerta, a very good and reasonably priced Ribera del Duero red
- A generous tray of tasty, well-trimmed jamon Serrano
- Very good cold mussels garnished with chopped onions and peppers.
- Soft & creamy broiled eggplant with gratin of Manchego cheese
- Excellent scallops al ajillo
- House-made Torta de Santiago