Crossed swords on the wall, rounded arches, red tiled roof? Check. Romantic décor? Check. Hearty Spanish food? Check. With a sunroom in the back and ivy on the walls, Café Español transplants the essence of Spain—from flavorful food to idyllic décor and lively culture—across the Atlantic to the center of Greenwich Village.
Here, the food, along with a friendly price tag, is guaranteed to impress. Open every day of the week from noon on, Café Español offers a full-course lunch special ($11.95 on weekdays, $13.95 on weekends) that provides a full range of Spanish flavors, including an appetizer, an entrée, two drinks, and a dessert.
Though the menu is quite extensive, a few dishes are more traditionally Spanish than others. The café take on a cool gazpacho, filled with fresh tomatoes and crunchy onions, is perfect for warm summer months. At Café Español, both the traditional seafood paella (flavored with wild saffron and imported manchego cheese) and the meaty paella valenciana are generously portioned, but the standout dish is the mariscada. The addition of a creamy green dill sauce that covers the clams and scallops and is absorbed by the otherwise plain Spanish rice turns it from just another “rice and beans” dish to a memorable meal. While sipping a complimentary cup of coffee or tea, you can finish your meal with a smooth, caramel-coated flan.
Café Español is an authentic eatery, from its rich flavors to its laid-back atmosphere, and the impression made by its décor is upheld in its menu. While few of us can afford to jet off to Spain for a rich lunch, the food here is a fine replacement.
Café Español is located at 172 Bleecker Street.