Food in LA: Bar Pintxo

On my way back to Bangkok, I had a twelve-hour layover in Los Angeles.  I’m super-fortunate that Gary seems to have an infinitely flexible schedule (although he swore that if I had been in town the following day, he wouldn’t have had any free time) and an inexplicable willingness to spend the afternoon running me around town.

I also really fortunate that Gary and W are such foodies and do all the legwork of trying and evaluating restaurant, so that when I stop by for a brief visit they always have the perfect recommendation.  Tuesday evening’s recommendation was Bar Pintxo, a Spanish tapas bar in Santa Monica.  We were graced with Steve’s presence, as he had a break in his globetrotting and drove up from the OC to join us.

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The restaurant is just a block from the beach, conveniently located near the Third Street Promenade.  They have a happy hour until 6:00 and we managed to sneak in just beforehand and order our first round of drinks and some of the tapas specials.

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The restaurant isn’t very large and is built around the kitchen area.  It is very cozy with tall tables and bar stools and bottles of wine and a huge mirror adorning the walls.

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Of course, one must start Spanish tapas with some sangria, right?  This red wine concoction was very good, not too sweet.

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The happy hour specials include 6 pintxos (“pinches”) for $6, so they loaded up two platters for the four of us.  The platter above has crimini mushrooms stuffed with mushroom mousse and manchego cheese; fresh tomato and garlic; and huevos rellenos con vinagreta vasca, deviled eggs with a pepper and onion relish in a vinaigrette dressing, all on grilled bread.

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The second platter had Serrano jamon (ham) on grilled bread with olive oil; chorizo Bilboa (spicy sausage) with cherry tomato halves; and tomato conserve and manchego cheese, all served on grilled bread.

The pintxos were all very tasty, a nice variety of simple but bold flavors.

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W continued the ordering with frisee and shaved manchego cheese dressed with a quince vinaigrette and served on a flatbread.

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Next came a paella with razor clams.  Very nice and clean flavors.

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You can’t order tapas without ordering tortilla espanola, the Spanish style frittata with egg, potatoes, and caramelized onions served with a side of aioli.

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We also ordered the brocheta de cerdo, mojo verde – the pork loin skewer with vegetables and a herb and lemon pesto.  The pork was nice and juicy, although the meat itself didn’t have a lot of flavor.  The sauce, though, packed a punch.

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Me enjoying the meal.

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For dessert we shared a plate of churros with a chocolate dipping sauce.  This was pretty unexceptional and the sauce was like thick hot chocolate, not really thick enough for dipping.

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The arroz con leche, rice pudding with fresh peaches, was much nicer.  They bruleed the top slightly, adding a nice texture.  And of course rice pudding is a favorite of mine.

The service was friendly although not super-attentive, the atmosphere was convivial, and the food was tasty.  Just what I needed before a long flight back to Thailand.