The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Tapas Restaurants
3. Oporto Cafe
Oporto Cafe offers unusual wines and great snacks in a hip, relaxed, cozy atmosphere -- an atmosphere that owners Richard Di Virgilio and Shiva Patel have also perfected at The Queen Vic, their other venture. Oporto's wine list features several selections from Italy and Portugal along with very shareable portions of interesting dishes such as linguiça, the Portuguese sausage, empanadas, meatballs in a saffron-tomato sauce and a bacalhau (salt cod) croquette. Lunch includes excellent pizzas and panini (try the Italiano, with lots of meats, provolone and arugula).
Photo by Daniel Kramer A spread of meat and cheese at Oporto.
2. 1252 Tapas
Photo by Troy Fields 1252 Tapas even makes small, tapas-style boxes at lunch.
The Uptown Park location of this suburban import (the other two 1252 Tapas locations are in Cypress and The Woodlands) features a sleek menu of traditional Spanish tapas and a much more urban vibe than its far-flung counterparts. Get the tabla alfonso x if you go with a large group so that you can taste 1252's array of Spanish cheeses and cured meats, or get experimental if you go on your own: morcilla (blood sausage) with apple and Dijon mustard sauce and pulpitos en su tinta (baby octopus sautéed in its own ink) are two favorites. Sangrias and other Spanish standards like empanadas and roasted asparagus are also good bets. And for dessert, 1252 Tapas offers some of the best churros around as well as clever dessert cocktails that you might normally pass up elsewhere.
Photo by Troy Fields Albondigas with a fried egg on top at Majorca.
Named after an island in the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain, Majorca in Midtown is creating food that was inspired by those islands: tapas. Chef Hicham Nafaa's extensive menu includes typical Spanish classics like paella, albóndigas (meatballs) and gambas con arroz (prawns with rice). In typical tapas fashion, most dishes are small and meant to be shared. On weekends, Majorca offers no-cover live flamenco music, which can be enjoyed while you're sipping a delicious, cinnamon-spiced, house-made sangria. Sunday brunch here is also one of the best values in town, an all-you-can eat Spanish/Mediterranean spread with bottomless mimosas for just $14.95, which can be enjoyed on the lovely patio with live music.
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1609 Westheimer, Houston, TX