Sun-Thu, 11am-11pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-1am
A, B, C, D, E, F, M at W. 4th St.-Washington Sq.; 1 at Houston St.
American Express, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Canal St. to 10th St., Mercer St. to West Side Hwy.
Paella palace Café Español continues to thrive by offering hearty chow and good value in a subdued, welcoming atmosphere. (Regulars often hole up with a bottle and a book at the inviting alcove bar.) With stucco walls and paintings of fan-brandishing señoritas, it wins no prizes for décor, but what the joint lacks in chic it makes up for in coziness. This is one of the darkest restaurants in town so dining companions appear a decade younger, an effect enhanced by Riojas and tempranillos that are too cheap and tasty to resist. The menu is well-suited to sharing, with tapas-style grilled chorizo, octopus, and shrimp in caramelized garlic sauce good segues to Café Español’s satisfying entrées. Fresh-tasting seafood distinguishes the rustic mariscada stew and ample, saffron-scented paella. The place does well by veal cutlets, especially a slightly sweet almond-sauced version. Chip-like “Spanish potatoes” make a fine side dish, and crema catalana, a Spanish crème brulee, postpones the inevitable reentry to modern times.Extra
Café Español’s weeknight specials slice a quarter off regular prices. Monday discounts lobster and Tuesday 20% off wine.
In business since 1982, Café Español was bought in 2005 by brothers Pablo and Ignacio Manso, first-generation Spanish-Americans who grew up in Jackson Heights.
Shrimp in garlic sauce, $18.95; paella, $19.95; veal in almond sauce, $19.95