Boqueria doesn’t take reservations, and the bustling, somewhat cacophonous atmosphere will probably horrify sentimental devotees of L’Acajou, the much-loved Alsatian restaurant that previously occupied the space. But what the restaurant lacks in gravitas it makes up for with a healthy sense of fun. The room feels commodious, like a regular sit-down restaurant, but also intimate, like a bar. The sangria is generic and oversweet, but the selection of Spanish wines put together by Roger Kugler, who is the sommelier at Suba, is various and reasonably priced. The $7 desserts are reasonably priced, too, if not always memorable. The beignets (flavored with apricots) are indistinguishable from the thousand other beignet desserts currently available in this beignet-obsessed town. But the crema Catalana is plenty creamy, and tastes properly of burnt sugar, and if you need a real sugar fix, there’s a nice chocolate-and-coffee mousse mixed with hazelnut ice cream, plus a dusting of candied hazelnuts. For real simplicity, however, do what the real tapeadores do: Order the vanilla ice cream, with a splash of Pedro Ximénez sherry.
Address: 53 W. 19th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-255-4160
Hours: Daily, noon to midnight.
Prices: Tapas, $4 to $6; mid-size dishes, $11 to $26; entrées, $29 to $62.
Ideal Meal: Tortilla española; caballa; suckling-pig special, lamb shank, or paella Valenciana; hazelnut ice cream with chocolate-and-coffee mousse.
Note: The pork arrives from a Vermont farm in the middle of the week. Look for it on the specials board starting Thursdays.
Scratchpad: One star for culinary competence, and another for the stylish upgrading of the tired tapas genre.