The Spanish Tavern is, simply, incredibly good, in every way. The dining room was decorated beautifully for the holidays, and the staff was polished. Unlike other restaurants in the Iron Bound District, the tables are well spaced, and not on top of each other to cram in as many diners as possible. It was very comfortable and relaxed.
The service was impeccable. For example, an empty dish never remained on a table for more than a few seconds. Water glasses and glasses with sangria were always replenished. Once a bowl was filled with lobster shells, it was whisked away and replaced with a clean bowl, in one fell swoop. Top notch.
The food was delicious and satisfying. A tasty, hearty vegetable was served before our appetizers and it hit the spot on a frigid December night. My friend and I shared a chirozo appetizer, which was large enough to share, and we had about 1/4 left over. I ordered the crab-stuffed lobster and it was delicious. The stuffing was predominantly succulent crab chunks, and not filler/stuffing. I requested a small lobster (1-1/4 lb) and the size was perfect. The lobster meat was tender and juicy. The chips and rice that accompanied our meals were yummy too. My friend ordered the shrimp in lemon sauce and said it was excellent. It was beautifully presented and, again, the portion was large enough to take some home. Unfortunately, we were meeting people after dinner, and ran too short on time to have dessert, but the platter they presented the adjacent table looked really, really good. Wish we could have ordered because I'm sure they would have been delicious. The white Sangria was sweet and delicious and made with a good balance of liquor and juices -- not watered down like you may find in other restaurants. If I had one "complaint," and, admittedly, it can hardly be justified as a valid complaint, it would have been nice if the Portuguese rolls were served warm and the butter was soft. But, other than that minor detail, every aspect of our meal was extraordinary.
The prices on the Specials menu were a little steep but don't be put off by that because there are reasonably-priced (relatively speaking for Iron Bound restaurants) dishes on the regular menu.
In short, The Spanish Tavern was great. Now my only fear is that we will not be able to get a table the next time we visit! Although, a restaurant this good could never remain a best-kept secret!
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