There’s a running joke that you need to take out a loan to go to a tapas restaurant. That’s somewhat accurate, but what the joke leaves out is why you would borrow the bucks just to dine. Let me tell you why. Tapas are incredibly flavorful, small bites that use high-quality ingredients. They are frequently enjoyed with a drink or cocktail, and you will leave that restaurant feeling incredibly satiated.
Such is the case with Julian Serrano Tapas, a bright, colorful restaurant with a vivacious bar and a chill, elegant dining room. As you would expect with a tapas bar, the bar is a huge draw, with plenty of seating creating a convivial atmosphere, as well as plenty of TV screens. Pass-throughs from the kitchens bustle with activity behind and near the bar. The dining room features long banquette seating and cushy upholstered chairs.
You’ll find a variety of cocktails on the menu such as the Piña Smash, a peppy sip with vodka, pineapple, lemon and mint. But the berry sangria is as attractive as it is delicious, with assorted fruits in muscat.
There is really no set way to order, although the menu does group dishes into starters and classic dishes. I recommend starting with a cheese platter—Julian Serrano’s version comes with a changing selection of melt-in-your-mouth cheeses, pickled peppers, nuts and fruit jam. Just amazing. You can also get acorn-fed Iberico ham, or order one of the imported Spanish tins of seafood with bread, tomato, lemon and salt—choose from anchovies, yellowfin tuna, sardines and more.
The beauty of tapas is also simply the sheer variety of offerings, from brava potatoes, a staple on every tapas menu, to seared scallops with apple butter and caramelized apple. Pulpa a la Gallega features grilled octopus and potatoes with Spanish paprika; chicken croquetas come with béchamel; and bombas are like small, round, elevated potato cakes with goat cheese inside. Tenderloin albondingas (meatballs) are accented with a smooth tomato sauce; cochinillo brings crispy roasted suckling pig to the table (order the whole cochinillo for a carnivorous showstopper). There are even slightly larger dishes such as the surf and turf, featuring a filet, lobster and a mushroom demiglace; another version of this features shrimp.
If you are a paella fan, Julian Serrano offers four varieties, but you must order them early, as they can take 45 minutes to an hour to prepare. The Valencia paella combines chicken, chorizo, morcilla (Spanish blood sausage), vegetables and saffron; the mixta paella adds in seafood like mussels, shrimp and lobster, plus chicken and chorizo. You can also get one featuring vegetable and another with calamari. Each paella can feed two, but larger sizes are available.
If you’ve ordered all the savory dishes you desire but wish for a sweet ending, try the churros with spicy hot chocolate. You won’t regret it.
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