We've long been big fans of husband-and-wife chef duo Alex Raij and Eder Montero of Txikito and El Quinto Pino, the Basque-style tapas restaurants in Chelsea. (Txikito was a favorite after-work destination when SEHQ was just a couple blocks away.) Now they're spending more time in Brooklyn at La Vara, their newest Spanish restaurant, which explores the Moorish and Jewish flavors of Spain.
You'll see handmade pasta like they make it in the Murcian region, served with ground goat meat. "But I keep the goat optional since we have so many neighborhood families coming in to eat with kids," said Raij. Just as she said that, three parties walked in for dinner, two of them with elementary school-aged kids. Located on the quiet, brownstone-lined Clinton Street in Cobble Hill, La Vara sits right next door to the popular Ted & Honey coffee shop, where every morning there's stroller rush hour traffic.
La Vara has a welcoming vibe for both family meals and date nights alike, with a menu ranging from snacky nibbles to bigger entrée plates. Some examples in each dish genre: pica pica (olives, fried chickpeas, sardines), fritos (artichokes, eggplant, fish—all of it, fried), pane (Sevillan pita; Mallorcan flatbread), frios y ensaladas (conejo en escabeche; salt cod salad with citrus, olives, pistachios, and pomegranate seeds), calientes (Menorcan braised beef tongue; albondigas; fideúa) and finally posres (Valencian olive oil ice cream; cinnamon-rose arroz con leche).
268 Clinton Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11201 (map)