205 Tenth Ave.
Though seemingly innocuous, tapas strike fear in the hearts of the staunchest Iron Chefs. Mario Batali serves them but won’t admit it (at Casa Mono, he prefers the euphemism “small plates inspired by Spain”). It took Bobby Flay, haunted by the specter of discarded toothpicks and napkins, years to summon the nerve to introduce them at Bolo. Tía Pol, on the other hand, doesn’t only embrace the tapas-bar designation—it embodies it. Rather than aspire to Spain’s trendy avant-garde heights, the tiny, talented kitchen concentrates on the classics, from textbook patatas bravas drizzled with zesty aïoli to sweet, tender squid served in a pool of its flavorful ink. The deceptively simple menu is elevated by top-notch ingredients and enhanced by an all-Spanish wine list. Sophisticated daily specials like seared foie gras with violet marmalade let chef Alex Raij transcend the time-tested genre whenever she feels the need.