Tapas Barcelona: Cozy and Intimate, The Perfect Dating Locale


Photo by Laura Rojas

The staff at Tapas Barcelona is skilled, friendly, and always prepared to find out which dishes you’ll like best.

Situated at 1615 Chicago Ave. in Evanston only a couple minutes from the Lake Michigan shore is a little corner of Spain in the form of a restaurant named Tapas Barcelona, a restaurant 20 years in the making.

When I stepped inside, gently strummed Spanish music welcomed me. I was immediately drawn to the Spanish art and posters that adorned the walls. Greeted warmly at the door with a smile, I was seated quickly and presented with a menu of wide selection.

Tapas are dishes served in small portions. They’re a popular tradition in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, similar to appetizers. However, they’re given in small servings, not as precursors to a larger meal, so they can be passed around the table and shared with friends and family. At Tapas Barcelona, the portions are more generous than would be expected at other tapas restaurants. Their menu has a cornucopia of diverse food and they are known for having both hot and cold dishes as well as unique Spanish desserts. They also carry a broad collection of alcoholic beverages, with their specialty being sangria, a wine mixed with diced fruit.

Tapas Barcelona makes the perfect date restaurant, and with Valentine’s Day coming around the corner, it’s your best choice for fun and intimacy. Some of the most recommended dishes to share are: patatas bravas (Spanish style potatoes), filete con patatas (rib eye in red wine sauce served over caramelized onions), lomo de cerdo al Pedro Ximenez (pork tenderloin with dry sherry sauce with peppers), pollo al whiskey (grilled chicken with roasted garlic sauce), and datiles a la Sevillana (bacon wrapped dates with bell pepper sauce).

As for dessert, I would suggest that no one pass up the tarina de chocolate — a decadent frozen chocolate mousse drizzled with homemade raspberry sauce. Feeding each other bites would be the perfect way to devour this sinful plate. When I finished I almost had the urge to lick the plate. I felt awful wasting even a drop of that raspberry ambrosia.

You may think having to order several plates to share between two people would be pricey, but you would be surprised. On average, an order of four plates to share, dessert and a glass of sangria would cost you around $40 to $50 per person with a good tip. If you want to have a more enriching experience, try five to six dishes instead — reaching a bill of around only $65.

The only thing that could make this restaurant better would be good service — but they’ve already thought of that. You receive amazing service with the friendliest staff you’ll ever encounter. Gerardo Lara, a veteran waiter of 15 years at Tapas Barcelona, is a shining example. He likes to get acquainted with you beyond the normal pleasantries you’d expect from most waiters. He won’t even mind if you speak in depth about your personal tastes in food just so he can recommend the best dishes for you.

His particular favorites happen to be queso de cabra con tomate (baked goat cheese in tomato sauce) and pincho de solomillo (skewered beef tenderloins over caramelized onions). He has passion for this restaurant and he expressed this when describing his experience working at Tapas for so long. “I feel like I’m home, that I’m part of this family.” He liked to emphasize that “the service and food make this place so unique.” The rest of the staff shares his work ethic, and there is always someone to check on you and ask if everything is going well. You will never feel forgotten or overlooked at this establishment.