Sun-Wed, 5pm-11pm; Thu, 5pm-midnight; Fri-Sat, 5pm-1am
L at First Ave.
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This slender, dimly lit space is owner Rafael Mateo’s shrine to Spanish swine. The menu showcases jamón, from salty, deep-red Serrano—Spain’s house ham—to one of the world’s priciest cured meat, jamón ibérico, which comes from the black-hooved (pata negra) pigs who forage for acorns across the country’s oak-cloaked southwest. Mateo timed the opening of his restaurant with the 2008 lifting of U.S. restrictions on this Iberian delicacy, which he orders from the first Spanish slaughterhouse certified to export here. The dark-purple ham, streaked with yellowish fat, is nutty and creamy, melting on the tongue like earthy, pork-scented butter. “It’s ham candy,” says Mateo. Also on offer are simple sandwiches and imported cheeses from Bedford Cheese Shop; manchego and la serena make sharp, tangy contrasts to the rich cured meats. The cocoonlike interior has only a handful of high tables topped with flickering candles, a frosted-glass front window, and billowing burgundy curtains around the door. Mateo’s wine list is small but well curated with a focus on the herbaceous, leathery reds of Rioja, which make for perfect sipping while Spanish tunes from Manu Chao to wistful bolero love songs purr over the speakers.Recommended Dishes
Jamón serrano, $12; jamón ibérico de bellota, $24; Manchego cheese, $5.