Tapas Barcelona in Evanston

On Saturday night Peter and I enjoyed dinner at one of our favorite tapas restaurants, Tapas Barcelona in Evanston.

Tapas Barcelona in Evanston

Evanston, home of Northwestern University, is a beautiful lakefront city just north of Chicago, chock-a-block full of great restaurants.

It wasn’t always that way.

My very first big-girl, post-graduation apartment was in Evanston. My pals Clare, Catherine and I shared a snazzy apartment featuring 3 bedrooms and white shag carpet. Quite “au courant” in 1979. This palace cost us each a mere $154 per month if you can believe it.

Back in those days, Evanston was mostly dry – no bars or liquor stores and only a couple of restaurants with liquor licenses. As I recall, there was The Keg, where Northwestern students brought their visiting parents and we could not afford, and The Spot, a pizza joint which was our second home.

Gone are those restrictive days and Evanston is now a nightlife hot spot.

Tapas dining is a wonderful solution for people like me who have trouble choosing just one dish on a menu. The variety of small plates let diners sample hot and cold dishes ranging from olives and veggies to meat and seafood.

We started with a glass of Martin Codax Albariño from the Rias-Braixas region of Spain.

Martin Codax Albariño

Albariño is a dry white wine that pairs well with seafood. My very favorite domestic producer of Albariño is Hendry Wines from Napa.

The typical recommendation for tapas dining is to select three to four dishes per person. Even with a party of two, this allows for a tasting of six to eight different menu items.

Every single item we enjoyed from the Tapas Barcelona menus was delicious. Here were a few of our favorites.

Patatas Alioli – “Rich garlic potato salad with black olive mayo.”

Perhaps the best potato salad I have ever tasted. I’ve never heard of black olive mayo before but I am a huge fan.

Tapas Barcelona asparagus and potato alioli

Esparragos con Tres Salsa – “Fresh asparagus with avocado, tomato and trio of sauces.”

We almost passed up this dish figuring, meh, it’s just asparagus… This deliciousness could never be described as “just” anything. The cold asparagus was cooked to the perfect tenderness, the tomatoes were flavorful and the 3 sauces (each a variation of aioli) compelled us to scrape the plate clean.

Tapas Barcelona crab stack

Aguacate con Cangrejo – “Fresh crab meat with avocado, cucumber and tomato.”

This beautiful and tasty crab stack was light, fresh and yummy. It was a perfect pairing with the Albariño.

Now for our favorite dishes from the “hot” side of the menu:

Tapas Barcelona goat cheese and tomato sauce

Queso De Cabra Con Tomate – “Baked goat cheese in tomato sauce, nicoise olives, garlic bread.”

Served in a piping hot skillet, this tomato sauce was sweet, a touch spicy and had enough acidity to balance the creamy goat cheese. My only complaint? There was not quite enough of the garlic bread to sop up every last drop of the sauce.

Tapas Barcelona crab croquettes

Croquetas del Dia – “Todays fried croquettes with alioli.”

These “Croquettes of the Day” tasted like the best crabcake tucked inside a thin, crispy crust and resting on yet another delicious aioli.

Among an entire menu of culinary successes, the Crab Croquettes stole the night.

Now it’s your turn. Do you like tapas dining? Do you have a favorite restaurant? A favorite dish? I’d love some recommendations for next time!

(Oh, and by the way, I received no compensation from Tapas Barcelona. They had no idea whether or not a super powerful and influential blogger was in their midst. And nor did I.)

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  1. I am not to far from downtown Evanston-love it there! It’s like a mini Chicago. I have been out there a lot and never checked out Tapas Barcelona-I really need to make my way there!

  2. One of these days, we must meet. You have no idea how excited I get when dining with someone who really knows their wines! So. Much. Fun. Period!!!! I’ll order the foods and you take care of the wine list while I watch in amazement!
    Love Love Love me up some Tapas. Best I ever had was in a little beach restaurant in Roatan, Honduras. Yum Yum!!
    janey recently posted…Our Birthday Girl!!My Profile

  3. Did you know that I grew up on the North Shore? My mom worked in the research dept at Northwestern for years as a secretary to the head of the dept (I think?). I love Evanston! I love the North Shore! Do you live in Evanston? I was born at Evanston Hospital. 🙂

    Those Tapas look amazing. Good to know Evanston has evolved!
    Chris Carter recently posted…Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your HopeMy Profile

  4. I lived in Evanston one summer while attending Northwestern for a writing class. I never saw the inside of a place this nice there, ha! Of course, anything would be an improvement over student dining.

    My son Domer isn’t too far from Evanston. I’lll have to pass your recommendation along to him. I’m not sure whether he’s tried Tapas, but he’s more adventuresome with his food than I am!
    Debbie recently posted…Happy B-day, Domer!My Profile

    • Our son went to Northwestern but was not at all adventuresome in eating at that point so all of the great Evanston restaurants were wasted on him. Let me know if you son has a chance to try Tapas Barcelona and what he thinks about it!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Tapas Barcelona in EvanstonMy Profile

  5. Kathy L says:

    The last (only?) Evanston restaurant in which I dined was Trio (Rick Tramonto & Gale Gand) in the 1990s. I remember Gale’s delicious assorted dessert plate with a mini root beer float. [I also remember all the restaurants in (dry) Highwood.]

    • Sadly, Trio is no longer opened. We went there one year for our anniversary. Gale also was involved in a restaurant in Northfield (before Trio). Her desserts are always memorable! Can you believe that we have never been to dinner in Highwood?!!?!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Tapas Barcelona in EvanstonMy Profile

  6. Yet another reason for me to come visit. Oh Mo. You had me drooling. The food looks delicious as does that wine! How wonderful that Evanston has evolved, too. That is happening in my part of the world as well. Places that really had not much to offer in terms of food or wine in years past, are now bursting with delightful offers. I sometimes wonder about the popular spots that I used to go to and worry that they are not as great now. Happily, ran into a gal the other day who had just gone out to dinner at an iconic Vancouver restaurant and she said it was as good as ever. Yay! Looking forward to reading about your next dining out discovery!
    Kelly L McKenzie recently posted…My Very Good, Very Bad CatMy Profile

    • I think that all the focus on celebrity chefs, cooking shows, etc. has created a demand for fabulous and unique restaurants. Fortunately, it is also encouraging the long-standing places to step up their game, lest they be left in the dust. I’ll start making a list of places to take you here when you visit and you can start a list of spots in your ‘hood to take me!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Tapas Barcelona in EvanstonMy Profile

  7. Mo… The Mr. and I LOVE Tapas restaurants. This one looks so good, too. My absolute fave is the goat cheese in the tomato sauce. YUM!!!

  8. Yum. Evanston was great when we lived there and looks like it has only gotten better. Could have walked there.

  9. Dave’s! Wish we had a good casual Italian place nearby. Has anything ever gone into the little market between our building and Walt’s? Still annoyed at whole foods for that one.

  10. Hi Mo. You commented on my blog yesterday so I thought I’d come find you on yours. Nice to meet you! I’m of Spanish descent, the “Spain” kind, and I found it ironic that the first thing I saw on your blog was a post about Spanish Tapas. Scrolling deeper I see you ate at Jose Andrea’s restaurant, one of my favorites as well. It looks as though we are getting off to a good start. At the end of this coming summer I’ll be moving my son to Chicago to attend the Un. of Chicago Law School. So I’ll look for more of your advice for things in the Windy City. Just wanted to say hi.

    Celia from http://www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

  11. YES! We should plan on it. I was thinking May,the snow should subside by then lol. We’ll keep in touch!

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