Sol de España, Rockville, MD

Think the area’s best tapas are at Jaleo or Estadio? You may want to rethink that …

Dani Arana, who spent three years as Chef de Cuisine at Taberna del Alabardero, now owns this restaurant with Daniela Jamarillo, and although the selection of tapas is limited, it’s still easy to put together an entire meal out of them.

A warm basket of somewhat disappointing, par-baked bread really needs olive oil, salt and pepper to wake it up. My young dining companion had a Diet Coke ($2.95, but with refills), and when I asked about the wines by the glass, our server told me they were offering a Chardonnay and a red Rioja.

“A red sounds good,” I said. “Is it a Crianza?”

“No, it’s a Rioja.” I blinked. “It’s Tempranillo,” he added. Whichever Rioja it was, it was a darned good one, and only $8.95 for a generous fill, probably over five ounces. Even though this is “just” a house wine, if you like Rioja, you’ll really like this.

An armada of tapas followed:

Falda Moruna con Patatas ($9), Croquetas de Gambas ($9), and Chorizo al Horno ($9) were all great; Gambas al Ajillo ($9) was good (still boiling in the clay pot); and a nightly special of Arroz de Toro ($9, “creamy” rice with oxtail) was merely decent.

I asked our server if he thought five tapas were enough, and he said they were really recommending the Jamon de Serrano y Manchego special, and that we should try it.

“How much is it?” I asked.

It was $15.50.

The Crianza gaffe was funny; but when I’m ordering multiple plates of $8-9 tapas, it seems like it would be good form to mention a $15.50 item without having to be asked. Regardless, we got it anyway, and it was first-rate jamon and manchego.

And, as we were waffling about splitting either the chocolate or the passion fruit cake ($6.95 each), our server was kind enough to offer to combine both onto one plate, so all was redeemed, and we walked out two very full, very happy campers.

Sol de España: remember it the next time you’re looking for great tapas.

(And the fish entrees I saw coming by looked extremely tempting.)

This entry was posted in MD, Restaurants and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.