Guys, I’ve been craving tapas for quite some time and though I’d love to head over to Madrina in the Distillery District, there’s the issue of COVID and most challengingly, I live in Italy now, which presents the greatest barrier by far! That said, I’ve had to try and track down a Spanish restaurant serving my fav staples like jamón ibérico, paella and tortilla de patatas here in Piemonte.
Luckily, my gal pals Shiho and Haven have been working tireless to add to our ongoing “Torino Try List” with all the restaurants, bars and cafes for our weekly day trips. Haven actually came across El Bonito after seeing some light promo revealing the restaurant opening a week earlier. Not knowing what the venue nor menu would look like, we figured why not give it a shot anyway. Even if they weren’t the best tapas, at least they would be tapas.
Thankfully, when we arrived at El Bonito, we quickly realized that bad tapas probably wouldn’t be on the menu. From the owners of La Posada Mexicana, a Mexican restaurant serving up tacos and even weekend brunch with a latin flare, El Binoto is a new venture located in front of a bustling Saturday produce market, right next to the famous Mollica (a panini shop, which I’ve also been dying to try!).
Walking inside, I loved the casually cool vibe.Rustic wooden floors and brick accents contrast the huge windows that let the spring sun shine, warming you as if you were somewhere beachside in Barcelona. Beyond the front bar area where exoctic cocktails and pitchers of sangrias are concocted, our hostess led us to the back of the restaurant where we were seated in a sort of giant greenhouse with glass windows above and around us, hanging flowers decorating the bright space.
We wasted no time in ordering a pitcher of red Sangria, loaded with gorgeous slices of grapefruit, pears and lingonberries. Though we considered choosing the tasting menu, we ultimately decided on ordering a bunch of different plates so we wouldn’t be limited to just taste meat, fish or veg tasting menus. Ultimately a cheaper solution, we were able to try a bit of everything and truly grasp all that EL Bonito had to offer.
Naturally, to whet our appetite we ordered a board with mixed Spanish cheeses and cured meats including jamón ibérico and chorizo. After that, a constant flow of small plates kept being dropped off at our table for the next hour. From patatas bravas to jamon croquetas to tortilla de patatas to the most flavourful gambas al ajillo ever! Honestly, when our waitress tried to take the leftover oil from the gambas dish, she almost lost a hand...it was perfect for dipping bread and I couldn’t just watch it disappear like that!
For the grand finale, we ordered a gorgeous paella with golden rice, loaded with peppers, green beans, chicken, prawns and mussels. Bursting with both colour and flavour, the socarrat (the crispy bottom of the paella) was caramelized and satisfyingly crunchy. By far one of the best paellas I’ve ever had...but hopefully, I’ll get to try one in Spain before my time abroad is over.
As there’s always room for dessert, we of course needed to end off on a sweeter note. Unable to decide between crema catalana or churros with a chocolate mousse dipping sauce and a side of brandy-flavoured ice cream, we gave in and decided to try both! Unlike many churros I’ve had in the past, El Bonito’s were not at all greasy and dunking a piping dough spiral into the melting brandy cream, I was in paradise...and drunk all over again!
The crema catalana was also unbelievable. Like a Spanish-style crème brûlée, cracking the torched sugar topping was a fun way to dig into the luxurious vanilla and orange custard below. Truly a classy dessert and so comforting, you have to finish your meal with the crema catalana.
Now onto the nitty-gritty details. What was the damage, you ask? Well, price-wise, I wasn’t too shocked. We ate and also drank a fair bit, yet the bill ended up being only about €30, which is quite conservative given what I usually spend at a tapas restaurant.
A great atmosphere, with friendly staff and fantastic fare, El Bonito is a great place to try if you’re in the mood for tapas or you want to impress your next date!
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What should I try next? Any Torino recommendations?