Is Boqueria Stealing the Spotlight with the Best Spanish Tapas in Washington, D.C.?

Tapas are nothing new in Washington, D.C. The District is sort of the national, de facto home of tapas, what with the dozens of combined restaurants from José Andrés and Richard Sandoval, for starters. To really make a splash then is no small feat, particularly when you’re dealing specifically with the authentic, Spanish tapas which Andrés really helped to popularize. Boqueria though, named for Barcelona’s famed La Boqueria market located on La Rambla in the heart of the city, more than fits into the crowded tapas scene, it stands out.

Boqueria began in that Flatiron District of Manhattan in 2006. Now, the restaurant has two New York City locations, and even a Hong Kong outpost, in addition to the D.C. location in Dupont Circle.

At Boqueria Dupont Circle, every aspect of your meal and your experience calls to mind Spain, down to the bustling and lively atmosphere you’d expect with a late-night Spanish dining scene. (Of course, “late night” means different things in different places. Boqueria closes at 11:30pm on the weekend, whereas in Barcelona, you’re likely to not even be at dinner at that point in the evening.)

The menu has the classic Spanish tapas that many D.C. diners already know and love – pan con tomate, patatas bravas, dates with bacon, Spanish tortillas, etc. That doesn’t mean that those dishes are all the same anywhere you get them, though.

At Boqueria, each dish is made with precise care and bursts with flavor. The Bombas de la Barceloneta, croquettes stuffed with beef and potatoes, instantly transported me across the Atlantic. Better than flying coach, right? If there was nothing else on the menu, I would go back for the Bombas alone.

There is plenty more on the menu though, including 10 Spanish cheeses and half a dozen charcuterie meats, perfect for creating mix-and-match plates. The huge, fresh assortment of cheeses and meats is the first thing you’ll see when you enter the restaurant, proudly on display in front of the window, inviting you in with all of the allure of authentic ingredients and Spanish flavor.

Other tapas you’ll want to try include Boqueria’s take on Gambas al Ajillo – garlic shrimp, Bacalao Bunuelos – salt cod and potato fritters, Albondigas – lamb meatballs, Espinacas a la Catalana – sautéed spinach with pine nuts and golden raisins, and Carne a la Plancha, hanger steak and fingerling potatoes with mojo verde sauce.

Boqueria is also home to one of the best and most unique brunches in the city. Step away from the buffet scene and instead get a selection of unlimited, made to order tapas and beverages for $39. Brunch tapas include several breakfast additions such as Spanish-style eggs Benedict, made with Serrano ham, as well as a variety of highlights and go-tos from the regular tapas menu.

The staff is accommodating and will make sure that the entire table has more than enough to go around. For beverages, choose from three types of sangria, mimosas or beer, and finish off the meal with endless churros con chocolate, if you’re still able. Brunch is served on both Saturdays and Sundays, and an a la carte brunch menu is also available for a more restrained start to your weekend morning.

Visit for more information and the current menu. Reservations are recommended as the restaurant fills up early.

*This article was first published on Yahoo Voices on February 10, 2014