Want to a quick way to bond with people?
Go out for tapas. The choosing and sharing small plates will force even the most unsocial people to talk and interact. You end up laughing over shared food (and the occasional fighting for the last bite) like you’ve known each other forever! On the other hand, if you’ve got anything like my fun, loud, food-loving family, tapas turn into almost a team sport. Who’s going to pick the next tray? What hasn’t been tried yet? Did so-and-so get a bite of this yet?
Recently we brought together both ends of the spectrum when we grabbed lunch at a Taberna! Taberna Tapas in Durham has got to be one of my favorite restaurants in Durham. Stepping in door feels a bit like stepping into southern Spain – the restaurant is
small but not cramped, with big windows and dark walls. Red wine bottles cover most of the walls, along with chalkboards detailing specials and maps of the regions of Spain.
We met Logan’s aunt and uncle there, along with one of their nephews who recently moved to the area. I’d never met him, but he’d come to the area for work and we wanted to welcome him in the best way we know how – with great food!
You can’t go to Taberna and not get a drink. The place feels so European, it’s practically required. We had a mix of beer and wine choices around the table. For me, sangria was the obvious choice, and so worth it! Sangria is one of my favorite drinks of choice, especially for hot days. Today wasn’t that hot, but it did get up to 70° that day, which is pretty good for winter! Plus, it’s light and sippable, which makes it perfect for the small plate style of the meal.
Once drinks got decided, it was time to really focus. There’s almost too many good options on the menu – tons of traditional tapas plus a few surprises, like chicken wings. Salads, paella and pinxtos con pan (tapas on bread slices, crostini-like) round out the menu. With 5 people, we decided to each choose one or two to start with and then order more as we finished things off.
The amazing part was that EVERYTHING TASTED AMAZING. Plate after plate, bite after bite. We kept thinking that the next one wouldn’t stand up to the one before, but every time we were wrong.
What we ordered (pictured above): albondigas, chicken & bacon croquettas, patatas bravas, crab cakes and butternut squash, pan seared salmon, roasted brussels sprouts, grilled lamb with creamed turnip. We also got a plate of roasted chicken paella which was rich, hearty, and could’ve been a meal on it’s own! Another not pictured was the caldo gallego, a soup which I would describe more as a stew – not very liquid but piled high with kale, ham, pork, beans and veggies.
Just in case there was one more ounce of space in our bellies, we went for shared desserts and chose the dark chocolate mousse and the molten chocolate cake. From the outside they looked about the same, covered by the glorious mound of whipped cream on top. My favorite was the cake – so rich, but not overwhelmingly sweet, which hits my dessert spot perfectly. They’re large, so plan to share! Especially if you just filled up on all their other amazing dishes.
While technically not open for “lunch” on Saturdays, they open for dinner at 1pm, so we called it our late lunch. Confession: I didn’t eat dinner afterwards, it was so. much. food.
It’s also a great place to have a glass – better yet, share a bottle – of wine with girlfriends. The staff consistently make great recommendations depending on what you’re in the mood for and what you’re eating.
Can you tell I love this place? Don’t miss out!!
all photos copyright Teaspoon of Nose