If I ever decided to make serving tables my life-long career, I’d be lucky to be half as enthusiastic as our server Arturo.
Nestled on the corner of Hyde St. and Union St., the intimate setting, passionate service and authentic food of Zarzuela is as close to Spain as it gets. For a Tuesday night, people flocked the tapas bar’s warm-colored walls, white-linen tables and the rich aroma of paella.
The girlfriend and I arrived at around 8:30 p.m., and decided to come back an hour later for a chance at a better table. Be aware, this place doesn’t take reservations. And don’t listen to the highlights on Yelp!. Listen to me. What people are loving on Yelp! are elementary. The main server, Arturo, pointed us in the traditional direction. I recommend you do the same.
Simplicity is the name of this game. The poached octopus over boiled potatoes and paprika changed the way I thought the usually-rubbery, tentacled creature can be prepared. Four words: Melt in your mouth. The sausage and gigante beans was another comforting favorites. My girlfriend told me that the gigante beans are illegal to take out of the country by travellers unless an appropriate tax is paid. This was a food smuggler’s delight.
A couple glasses of CAVA, commonly referred to as Spanish champagne to start, and cinammon-y Sangria to finish. Hint: pair the rice pudding with the sangria. Cinnamon with cinammon. Acid with cream. Great finish to a great meal. Simple yet so satisfying.
Arturo was even nice enough to wave his white rag around on the cold corner to fetch us a cab. Now that’s service at it’s best.