Hidden away in a small entrance in the back of Los Cidrines Bakery you will find wine and tapas paradise: La Bodeguita de Manolo. Walk past the wooden doors and you will immediately see to your left their impressive wine cellar filled with rows and rows of the heavenly liquid.
La Bodeguita de Manolo has a small and intimate dining area (around 12 tables). Its walls are decorated with images and memorabilia of Manuel Cidre, owner and founder of Los Cidrines Bakery and its lamps are made from empty wine bottles. The overall feel and décor of the place resembles a Spanish tasca.
It was a Wednesday night and La Bodeguita was packed. They also had had live music, which was a plus (be aware the music can get a little loud sometimes just in case you are not into that). As for me, I love live music so I did not mind at all. Since the place was packed, my friends and I were seated at the bar while we waited for a table to clear. There we met Mateo, our friendly server who greeted us with a smile and immediately made us feel like home.
After reviewing their extensive wine list, I decided to order one of favorite wines: Teofilo Reyes. Sadly, Mateo informed me that they were out, however, he recommended a similar tasting wine that would go well with several of their tapas. We decided to go with his recommendation and we would not be disappointed. The wine was exquisite!
As our appetizers, we ordered the Ham Croquettes with Roasted Garlic and Pimentón Mayonnaise (Croquetas de Jamón Serrano y Piña con Mayonesa de Ajos Rostizados y Pimentón) and the Soft Shell Crab batter fried with Sofrito Tempura, Black Bean Puree and a Roasted Chiles Remoulade (Soft Shell Crab Rebosado con Tempura de Sofrito, Puré de Frijoles Negros y Remoulade de Chiles Rostizados).
The Ham Croquettes were simply delish! They are homemade with quality Serrano ham and a hint of pineapple which brings a Caribbean touch to the classic Spanish tapa. As for the Soft Shell Crab, I did not enjoy the dish that much, but I guess it is a matter of taste. After we finished our appetizers and exchanged a few jokes with Mateo, we were told that our table was ready.
We then ordered the Filet Mignon seared with Brie Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Truffle Oil (Filete Miñon sellado con Queso Brie Gratinado, Cebollas Caramelizadas y Aceite de Trufas). The combination of the Filet Mignon with the Brie Cheese immediately got my attention since this type of meat is typically paired with stronger cheeses such as Blue, Roquefort, or Gorgonzola cheese. As a side dish, we ordered the Patatas Bravas, which is a classic Spanish tapa dish. For those of you who are not familiar with the same, it consists of crisp olive oil fried potatoes topped with tomato sauce and pimentón with a little kick of spice at the end.
Both dishes were simply decadent. The juicy and medium rare Filet Mignon combined with the creamy and buttery Brie Cheese were simply perfection! Add to that the caramelized onions and a drizzle of truffle oil and you got a little piece of paradise in your mouth (YUM!). I particularly enjoyed the spice level of the Patatas Bravas.
Having saved some room for dessert, we asked one of the servers to recommend her favorites and without skipping a beat she told us to order the Dulce de Leche Custard and the Red Velvet Cake. I have just three words for you regarding both of these desserts: OH MY GOD! Every bite was just like going to heaven and coming back on a soft cloud of sugary goodness. It was hard to keep my spoon down!
La Bodeguita de Manolo is just one of those magical places. It has it all! An amazing atmosphere, great Spanish tapas with a Latin touch, as well as a plentiful and resonably priced wine selection. The staff is friendly and attentive making their service outstanding. I had not even left the place and I wanted to return as soon as possible.
La Bodeguita de Manolo is open for lunch and dinner. DISCLAIMER: We were told they do not take reservations after 6:30 p.m. so get there early to get your seat.
FUN FACT: The next day, I found out that our friendly “server” Mateo was in fact the one and only Mateo Cidre, owner of La Bodeguita, a fact he never disclosed during our entire time there. That just goes to show you what a humble, genuine, and nice guy he is and made me even more eager to return soon.