Don’t you feel like having “una copita de vino” after work, every now and then?
Well I do… a little bit too often and it hurts my budget. There is nothing better than interrupting the usual routine of the week by going out with friends, say, on a Tuesday for a few drinks and appetizers. With this in mind, I went in search of alleviating “mi copita de vino” syndrome, while still staying cheap. I came across Bar Carrera, a tiny tapas, wine bar located in the East Village. I came for the wine, but was blown away by the food.
The place is so small you might walk by and not see it from Second Avenue. A discrete undulated glass façade hides the inside, only revealing people’s silhouettes and shadows. But once inside, a really cool, rustic concrete bar with a wall full of regional Spanish wines graces one side, while the left wall is covered with Moroccan-tiled backsplash, creating an intriguing bohemian ambiance. There are no tables, only the bar with stools. Right from the get-go, this eclectic scenario is intriguing. But what won me over was its exquisite flavorful food, attentive service and, of course, the cheap tapas starting at $5 a piece.
Start by ordering the obvious, the “copita de vino.” Bar Carrera has a fine selection of Spanish reds, whites and sherry wines. If you are not a wine sabelotodo, don’t panic. The bartenders are kind enough to give you a tasting and their wine recommendations. If you get in the mood of a cocktail, Bar Carrera offers refreshing strawberry, cucumber or mixed spices sangrias. By the time I chose my wine, a sherry (jerez), I was more than ready for the picadera.
Be aware that the dishes at Bar Carrera are tiny, just like the place, but the flavors are to die for. Just close your eyes and enjoy the combinations of flavors and textures. Options range from traditional tapas of quesos and jamones to completely innovative mini- appetizers. One of the most popular dishes is the eggs in a blanket, a type of poached egg with truffle oil on top of a tiny toast, with melted cheese and serrano ham. Also, don’t miss the traditional tortilla española, which changes daily and is sometimes served with the twist of really juicy mushrooms on top. Other innovative tapas include the fish croquetas and the chorizo con camarones.
To top it all off, Bar Carrera even has dessert tapas. The fresas, a baby bagel with a layer of mascarpone cheese and topped with a thing bed of strawberries drips with honey and is just mmm!!!! En fin, this place is the perfect setting to grab drinks and kick off your appetite; and also the perfect place for a first date. You know, like the, “lets grab a drink” kind of date, but not at your regular bar. For me, what started as “una copita de vino” turned into a culinary discovery, and yes, why wait for the weekend to kick back, relax and enjoy?
Address: 175 Second Ave., near. 11th St.; 212-375-1555
Hours: 5pm to 2 am daily.
Prices: starting at $3.50 per tapa
Second Bar Carrera location:
146 West Houston St, 10012