Lunch for One: Despaña


[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.


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.


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.


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