2018-06-27 / Restaurant of the Week

El Boqueron...

A Tast of Spain in Astoria

El Boqueron is a cozy, classy, gem of a Spanish restaurant offering tantalizing tapas and entrées from the cuisine of sunny Spain. El Boqueron was taken over one year ago by Victor Macias who could not be a more gracious, hospitable host. Along with the excellent waitstaff, Victor makes you feel very welcome as he invites you into his intimate corner restaurant at 31st Street and 34th Avenue.

El Boqueron is tastefully decorated with a handsome, tiled bar at the entrance, tables dressed in starched, white linens, and warm lighting. Meet a friend for a drink at the bar while you share some tapas, or settle into a table for a relaxing, delicious meal. Start with a glass of fine wine from Spain, Argentina, or California, or a freshly mixed cocktail while you nibble on olives from Spain and a basket of bread.

The menu offers a selection of hot and cold tapas, as well as main courses to please any palate.

Cold tapas include the eponymous dish called boquerones, which are anchovy fillets marinated in sherry vinegar. Forget anything you think about those salty anchovies in a tin, these boquerones are fresh and so flavorful, they melt on your tongue ($9). Tortilla Española is a traditional omelet of eggs and sliced potatoes that is ubiquitous in the tapas bars of Spain. So are jamon Serrano and Manchego cheese. This combination of cured ham and Spanish cheese is a must for any Spanish meal, layered on top of a slice of warm bread.

We shared some of their most popular hot tapas, including albondigas terneras, which are delicate Spanish style veal meatballs in tomato sauce, perfect for sopping up with bread. Next, pulpo a la Gallega, a traditional octopus dish from the northwest corner of Spain, was tender and succulent, prepared with potatoes and smoked paprika called pimentón. Calamares al ajillo are tender calamari cooked with lots of fragrant garlic that offered enough to share. Codfish croquettes and chicken croquettes are ideal for snacking on at the bar or at your table so order a plate of these too.

If you’re considering paella for dinner, the iconic Spanish rice and seafood dish, you should order it when you order your tapas, as it takes about 30 minutes or so to prepare. You shouldn’t rush your meal here anyway, but the preparation time offers big payoffs with this eye-popping, palate-pleasing feast. Served in its special pan, paella Valenciana is made with chunks of chicken, Spanish sausage called chorizo, shrimp, mussels, and clams atop mounds of saffron-infused rice ($28). We did our best but still had plenty for dinner the next night. Paella negra gets rich flavor and dark color from squid ink, while paella marinera is made with seafood only. There’s even a vegetarian version to share. Shrimp in garlic sauce is redolent with heady garlic, and the fresh, grilled salmon is seasoned simply and perfectly cooked.

El Boqueron prepares excellent meat and poultry as well, with selections that include tender veal medallions with wild mushrooms, herb marinated pork tenderloin, and chicken breast in garlic sauce. The hefty Angus shell steak is served with green peppercorn sauce and a side of sautéed vegetables. All the dishes at El Boqueron are made on the spot and beautifully presented on gleaming white dishes. Take your time and enjoy a relaxing meal here and escape the world for a couple of hours.

At the end of it, you’ll want to finish with a glass of sherry and one of their fabulous desserts like mocha caramel flan, vanilla flan, banana brandy cake, or chocolate lava cake. Any night is made special with a meal at El Boqueron. It’s also a great place to celebrate a special occasion and private parties for up to 65 can be accommodated. They’ll happily cater out to your location and El Boqueron provides local delivery.

I dare you to visit their website and try to resist scrolling through the tantalizing photos from the menu. You can order online from there and get your dinner delivered. El Boqueron is open six days a week for dinner from 4pm to 10 pm weeknights and until 11:30 pm weekends. (Closed Monday) They open earlier on Saturday and Sunday and there’s a Happy Hour on weekdays from 4-7 pm with reduced prices on drinks and tapas. There are more details on the website but you should just go and visit El Boqueron now for fine Spanish tapas and entrees at reasonable prices, served in a lovely setting. Buen provecho!

31-01 34th Avenue
Astoria  718.956.0107

www.elboquerontapasrestaurant.com

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