La Tasca is a prime spot in Clarendon for tapas and sangria after a long work week. Its Arlington location is one of five in the DC Metro area.
After making the reservations on OpenTable , two friends and I were excited to indulge in the restaurant that presents itself as an authentic Spanish experience. The atmosphere did not disappoint. When we arrived, we were ushered up the large wrought iron staircase to the top of the two-level establishment that’s decorated in rich shades of gold, red, and green.
Along with the dining area, the upstairs hosts a full bar. On this particular Friday, the bar area was packed with people watching the NCAA basketball tournament, so the volume level was a little loud.
For 7:00 p.m. on a Friday, there was a good crowd of people. It seemed that everyone from large groups of work friends to couples on dates wanted to get tapas.
We got settled by ordering a pitcher of the mango blackberry sangria for the table and looked over the extensive menu. Our waiter, Eddie, suggested that we order at least two tapas per person. He also pointed us to the more popular tapas on the menu, including the manchego frito – fried cheese accompanied with orange marmalade.
My group got to chitchatting so it took a while to order the rest of our tapas, but Eddie didn’t rush us. We settled on two meat tapas, one seafood tapas plus the fried cheese. We also ordered two vegetarian dishes too (you know, trying to be healthy after scarfing down fried cheese drenched in orange marmalade)
It was also around that time that we ordered our second pitcher of sangria, this time we decided to try the Cadillac white sangria because (obviously) it had to be the Cadillac of sangrias.
The tapas arrived quickly and all at the same time, which is different than some small plate restaurants I’ve been to that send out the dishes one at a time. One thing I noticed right away was that the tapas were pretty small portion – even for tapas, which Eddie has warned us about.
Some of the tapas were bite size pieces clearly meant for sharing, like the pulled chicken empanadas with tetilla cheese. The same for the solomillo de cerdo, which was delicious. Its bacon wrapped pork tenderloin was served over a sauce of melted cabrales cheese. It was one of my favorite selections that we tried. We also ordered the salmon dish that came with mushrooms and was topped with a thick mushroom sauce. It wasn’t as good for sharing among three people because it just came with one salmon filet, but it was cooked perfectly.
We gobbled up the veggies dishes – grilled asparagus with mushroom vinaigrette and grilled Brussels sprouts with dates and almonds. They were perfect palette cleansers.
The food and atmosphere lent to a dining experience that could last for hours, but the real entertainment of the night was the flamenco dancing. At 8 p.m. two women dressed in traje de flamenco came out and danced around the upstairs of the restaurant before making their way down the wrought iron staircase to entertain the guests on the lower level. They get close enough to the tables that people can really see and hear the sounds of flamenco. The dancers perform every Friday. Check out the video on the Petite Plates DC Instagram.
Where: 2900 Wilson Boulevard Arlington VA
Price Range: ranging from $7 to $10 a piece
Small Plate Favorite: solomillo de cerdo
Drink Recommendation: Mango Blackberry Sangria