Last night I decided to go to the one-month old Spanish tapas spot El Quinto Pino. El Quinto Pino comes to us from Mani Dawes and chef Alex Raij, the crew that brought us Tia Pol, one of the best tapas joints in NYC.
El Quinto Pino is small. It is sparsely decorated with some mirrors on one wall, with some seats up against the wall, and a semi-circular curved small bar, with the kitchen behind the bar. The food and drink menu are written on two chalkboards behind the bar. The tilings on the wall behind the bar resembled the patterns of your grandmother's couch. You don't come to this spot for the decor. You come for the great authentic Spanish tapas.
I took a seat at one end of the bar. There were only a handful of people inside, which surprised me, for I thought it might be packed, because Tia Pol is always packed. I was happy it wasn't packed, for it gave me more time to converse with the bartenders.
I asked Veronica, one of two bartenders what her favorite dish was, and she told me it was the shrimp. I asked Matt, the other bartender what his favorite dish was and he said the braised meat sandwich. Not feeling shrimp- at the moment- I went with Matt's suggestion. I also went with the Victory Pilsner beer they had on tap.
The sandwich ($7) came out on hot and crispy bread. The meat was braised pork shoulder. It was a really nice sandwich. The flavor was really nice and the meat was well seasoned. After enjoying this tasty little sandwich I was contemplating if I should get the garlicky shrimp too. And like a mindreader, Matt comes over and asks me if I wanted the shrimp too, I of course, obliged. And I am so happy I did.
This "garlicky shrump" ($9) dish is a great dish. Four shrimp come out in a broth. It's a simple dish, but the broth had such a great flavor I loved the dish. There was a little kick to the broth, which I enjoyed, and found out was from the addition of sirancha (not sure of spelling) peppers. These are hot vietnamese peppers which gave this Spanish dish a touch of Asia. The dish came with two pieces of warm crispy bread which was perfect for dipping in the broth.
Of course, I ended up doing magic for everyone in the restaurant, which was awesome. That was a good thing too, because an Australian couple sitting next to me had ordered some crispy cracklings, which thanks to my amazing magic and winning personality, they let me try. The cracklings were delicious. The perfect bar snack.
After eating great food, and entertaining and chatting with great people, the restaurant gave me this very homey vibe. Its the kind of restaurant I love. Non-pretentious, cozy, friendly, great food, and with no dish over $15, a great bang for your buck. It is a great neighborhood joint, but I would travel from other neighborhoods for the El Quinto Pino experience. And I will, for I live in Midtown, and it is in Chelsea, an I plan on coming back often.
So for great tapas in a friendly environment in NYC, El Quinto Pino is the perfect little spot.
El Quinto Pino
401 W. 24th St. (at 9th Avenue)
New York, NY 10011