[yiddish] To eat like an animal, i.e., quickly, noisily, and in great quantity.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

La Nacional: yay paella

Table for 8 early on a Saturday night without a reservation? No problem.

La Nacional is a family favorite for solid Spanish food that won't break the bank. It is associated with La Sociedad Benefica Espanola de Socorros Mutuos, a Spanish Society founded in the 1860's, which occupies the building above. The basement dining area, complete with Christmas lights and paintings, and its obscure entrance have just the right amount of diviness to enhance the charm.

Head down the stairs and though the hall to get to the dining room.

Immediately order a pitcher of sangria. And enjoy the olives and breads brought to your table.

Appetizers are split into two sections, hot and cold. The chorizo appetizer($8) is an easy choice, cannot go wrong there. Look at that spicy oil deliciousness and do not be afraid to dip your bread in it.

Other hot appetizer options that also delivered the flavor along with being properly tender: pulpo (octopus,$9) and calamares a la plancha (grilled squid, $9). You will probably also want to dip your bread into the squid's sauce.

And for the main attraction- paella. The staff is good about calculating serving size based on the number of people in your party. Though we all agreed the quality was slightly better a few years ago, this is still a great dish. The seafood tasted fresh and the rice was full of real flavor that comes from being cooked with so many yummy things.

There are shrimp, mussels, cockles, chicken, and peas in the version we selected (paella de la casa).
Here are some close up shots if you are into seafood.
And a shot of that essential rice crusting.

Past visits while the owner was around resulted in free glasses in sherry and some great tips on traveling in Spain.
The food plus the relaxed,unexpected environment is the perfect place for a group to have great conversation over pitchers of sangria and sufficiently authentic Spanish dishes. And if you don't have great conversation, get new friends.

239 W 14th St