Feeling nostalgic for Spain? I know I always do. Well now there’s the perfect spot for you to go when your taste buds are calling for a taste of the Iberian peninsula, Little Spain, located right inside the Farmer’s Market next to The Grove in the heart of L.A. at 3rd St. and Fairfax. Little Spain even has a market, where you can buy products from Spain, like Spanish meats and cheeses, to take home with you and enjoy. And while you’re at it, you definitely need to take some time to indulge in the authentic treats from Spain, either enjoying them at the tapas bar at front, complete with the typical glass showcase display, at the casual tables, or you can have a sit-down dinner in the covered back patio, with heat lamps for those chilly nights.
There are a range of tapas to choose from, including Spanish staples like Tortilla Española, a Spanish omelet made with potatoes and onions, Patatas Bravas, classic fried potatoes served with a Spanish spicy sauce and garlic aioli, Croquetas Españolas, scrumptious béchamel fritters filled with your choice of chicken, jamón serrano, crab or mushroom. The jamón serrano were my favorite, very authentic, as delicious as the ones in Spain, which is very tough to find here in L.A. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a tapas bar in Spain.
Their fresh sautéed mushrooms with garlic and parsley are also fantastic, as are their Pimientos del Piquillo con queso de cabra, Spanish red peppers stuffed with fresh goat cheese. They also have delicious Empanadillas, famous grilled or fried chicken and vegetable stuffed pastries, Bombas, fried potato balls filled with spicy beef, and Bacon-wrapped dates served with french fries…be sure to leave your calorie counter at home. ;)
You also can’t miss the Choricitos al Vino, small Spanish chorizo sausages sautéed with wine and paprika sauce, simply delicious! The Gambas al Ajillo are another excellent choice, traditional shrimp also sautéed with garlic and paprika, just like they’re prepared in Spain. If you can’t decide on which ones to choose, the sampler plate with the chef’s selection of 6 different tapas is a great option, perfect for sharing with friends for just $25.
For bigger plates, you can choose from their classic Spanish dishes, which are great, because they are truly authentic dishes you’ll usually only find on menus in Spain, not even in most Spanish restaurants on this side of the Atlantic. Dishes like Huevos Estrellados, two fried eggs with your choice of chopped jamón serrano or chorizo served on top of french fries…simple and delicious, perfect any time of day!
You can also choose Albondigas en salsa, a very flavorful dish of meatballs in a tantalizing tomato sauce with onions, sweet peas, carrots and potatoes. It’s actually owner Alejandro Pages’ great grandmother’s recipe, so you can’t get any more authentic than that! Since Alejandro is from the region of Cataluña, you can also choose the classic Catalán dish, Botifarra amb mongetes, grilled sausage sautéed with white beans and bacon, the perfect hearty meal for a chilly night! Another regional dish is Pulpo a la feira (or a la gallega), octopus Galician style, boiled for two hours, then served on a bed of thin potatoes, dressed with paprika, salt and pepper…just divine! It’s one of my Spanish favorites.
Of course you can’t forget the regional favorite from Valencia, which all of Spain has adopted, Paella Valenciana, which is the original, made with chicken, mussels, shrimp and vegetables at Little Spain, for just $14. You can also choose a vegetarian paella, seafood, lobster, and one with black squid ink rice. And the great thing is they serve paella just for one, whereas many places only serve an option for two. They also offer Fideua, a Catalán dish of sautéed angel hair pasta with garlic, scallops, shrimp and calamari.
Little Spain also offers delicious Montaditos, small bites of mini-toasts with different ingredients on top, including your choice of jamón serrano, three different Spanish cheeses…wine goat is my favorite!, sausages, chorizo, anchovies, Iberian pork loin and tortilla española. The menu is very extensive and diverse at Little Spain…you will definitely find something for all taste buds!
Don’t forget some sangria to go with your meal and make your Spanish experience complete. You can get a pitcher of red or white sangria for just $19 and a glass for $6. You can even get a pitcher of sparkling sangria for $25. There is also a variety of Spanish beer and wine to choose from, as well as soft drinks.
For dessert, I recommend the chocolate coconut flan, a fantastic twist on the Spanish custard classic. The Arroz con Leche is also good, with lots of cinnamon and a pudding-like consistency.
Little Spain is located at 6333 West 3rd St., right inside the Farmer’s Market, on the southwest corner, next to Starbucks. You can’t miss the bright red and yellow colors, indicative of the Spanish flag. They also offer catering service and paellas to go, and you can even enjoy live flamenco there some nights. For more information, call 323-634-0633 or visit their website at www.littlespainla.com. You can also follow them on facebook and twitter. Buen provecho!