Lunch for One: Despaña

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[Photo: Kathy YL Chan]

There are often days when I'm hungry but wholly indecisive. Those are the days when I head to Despaña in Soho. I can nibble and pick, mix and match to my choosing. Their sandwiches are fantastic, especially when you want lunch to go. However, I most often find myself picking two or three tapas and pinxtos, followed by the Horchata Chufi or the daily iced tea ($2.75), and something sweet to compose a midday meal. Let's begin with the Mejillones en Escabeche ($6), a dish of mussels in spicy pickled vinaigrette, served room temperature. Do ask for extra slices of baguette to soak up the leftover vinaigrette.

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Then move on to pinxtos, little bites served on toasted bread. Morcilla con Piquillo ($3.50) alternates meaty layers of imported Spanish blood sausage with roasted peppers and aioli, an addictive combo that gets me salivating. The Piquillo Frito Relleno de Bacalao ($4.50) features red pepper stuffed with codfish and béchamel, deep-fried. Take note—tapas and pinxtos are made ahead of time and any that need to be warmed are tossed in the microwave. Fried dishes suffer as a result, so I like to get their earlier on in the day to get things as "fresh" as possible.

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Close on a sweet note with a slice of the Flan Tradicional ($4.25)—nothing exciting, but a sweet and silky finish. The woman will ask if you'd a little extra caramel sauce, and clearly, the correct answer is yes—only a fool would turn down an extra pour of the thin, dark and smoky caramel.

Despaña

408 Broome Street, New York NY 10013 (map) 212-219-5050
despananyc.com