August 5, 2016
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The first place that was picked from my “Eats Around Astoria” hat was La Rioja, a quaint tapas bar located on Broadway and 33rd street. I pass this place every day on my way home and was so excited to get the chance to try it out.
The patatas bravas was good, but could have used a littttttle more aoli, as the dish was on the dry side. The chorizo was just okay, but I would have preferred the pieces to be a little more crispy. And the ham croquettes were amazing – the saving grace of the three tapas we got to share.
Still with 70% of our wine bottle full and 90% of our stomachs empty, we turned the menu over to check out the entrée selections. I was just recently turned on to paella, but the only one I could have (all others were chock-full of shell fish) consisted of chorizo and chicken, and having already tried the chorizo and not being a big fan of it, I decided that I didn’t want to spend $25 on a paella that I would not eat.
I then looked over at the other options and saw they had Steak al Cabrales, which is a 28oz sirloin steak topped with melted blue cheese – one of my favorites. So we got that to split, since we had already filled up on the two baskets of bread they gave us.
The steak came out and looked amazing. I mean, look at all that cheese! But, upon cutting (or should I say, trying to cut) the steak in half, I noticed how tough it was just to get the knife in. We found that there were many parts of the steak that were inedible or solely fat. It was such a shame because I wanted to like the steak so much.
Although I didn’t have the best food experience here at La Rioja, I definitely would come back, but to only have a glass (or three) of wine and order a few plates of the croquettes.
I am a big fan of tapas and love the chance to try smaller plates of new foods or cuisines and not feel guilty if I don’t end up liking it (I’m a very picky eater). To start off, we got a bottle of red wine which was delicious and reasonable priced (only $20 for the bottle) and started to look over their hot and cold tapas.
While I was scanning the menu, there was one plate that I HAD to have – the patatas bravas. If you’ve ever gone out to a tapas restaurant with me, you understand how much I love this dish of fried potatoes smothered in a spicy aioli. Aside from patatas bravas, we ordered the ham croquettes and the spicy chorizo in a red wine sauce to start.
They had more tapas, and a list of entrée’s and paella, but we wanted to see how filling (or how good) these tapas were before we ordered anything else.