Spanish culture often arrives in Miami via Cuba, so it’s no surprise that Tapas y Vinos owners Manny and Nery Manzano were both born on the island he in Cienfuegos, she in Pinar Del Rio. That’s not to say the friendly tapas bar in Southwest Miami lacks authenticity. Both sets of grandparents came from Spain, and the Manzanos travel there at least once a year. Manny lived in Madrid for two years before meeting Nery at a Spanish restaurant in Miami where he tended bar.
Together since 1987, they opened their place two years ago in a tiny West Flagler shopping center, and are doing well enough to expand to a second location on Le Jeune Road this summer. On weekends, prime tables are clustered around a small stage, where Paco Aguilera performs a flamenco show that gets customers dancing, too. On Thursday nights, liquor floated with citrus peels is set alight in a big, glazed-clay punch bowl and then served in small cups to ward off evil spirits an ancient Galician rite called a queimada ceremony.
Once cleansed, dive into a plate of mild piquillo peppers stuffed with clouds of salt cod in creamy tomato sauce or a bowl of caldo gallego (Galician bean stew with turnip greens, potato and sausage). Move on to tapas such as boquerones (white anchovies) in vinaigrette or the Galician classic boiled octopus fair-style” served with potato slices drizzled in olive oil and dusted with smoked paprika. A platter of serrano ham, manchego cheese and thinly sliced sausage easily serves four perfect with a bottle of dry and fruity albario, a white wine from the Rias Baixas region of Galicia near the Portuguese border. Other tapas worth considering include tortilla (egg and potato omelet), grilled calamari, chorizo in cider, chickpeas sauted with ham and zamburinas (small scallops) in garlic sauce great with crusty bread for mopping up the juices. Main dishes range from sea bass with shrimp in salsa verde to grilled lamb chops or pork loin in garlic-wine sauce. End the evening where it began, in Galicia, with a slice of not-too-sweet tarta santiago (almond cake) and a bracing bon-bon, a small cup of strong coffee with sweetened condensed milk.