Named for Valencia, Spain; this Spanish-style tapas spot is new to the South Loop/new Southside neighborhood (although a couple other restaurants have existed in the location) and is another addition to the growing dining scene in the are. The space is modern and on the edge of trendy: big, open loft-like accommodations with some industrial touches. It’s bright orange and yellow touches of color on the walls and chair and there was some cool looking Mosaic tiles on the walls, but other than that, the place is pretty minimal on decor. The converted warehouse feel is left in tact with huge cement pillars in the dining room.
The menu is a little more sparse than other tapas places in the city (Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, Emilio’s) but filled with many of the classics, such as Serrano ham and cheese (great!) and paella. I tried a rock shrimp dish that was very good, as well skirt steak with blue cheese that was only so-so. The chorizo and black bean soup needed more chorizo to complete it, but my ‘Spanish garlic potato salad’ was incredible, not shy with the garlic. My biggest disappointment came in the squid in ink sauce. Where’s the flavor!? This dish was painfully bland and tasted unfinished. However, Tapas Valencia redeemed themselves with the bacon wrapped dates. These delicious little morsels were both sweet and salty, despite initially appearing a little iffy. I had glass of sparkling rose that was very nice…not at all sweet, surprisingly and a nice glass of sauvignon blanc. I felt the prices were fair and on par with other tapas places in the city. The portions seemed a little small however.
One of the best things about Tapas Valencia was the service. We were greeted by several staff upon walking in and out server never skipped a beat. She was helpful, knowledgeable ans very sincerely asked that we fill out a comment card if we felt anything could be improved. (I chimed in my two cents on the squid.) She knew a lot about the wine list, and seemed excited to describe the food. Service can really make or break a place for me, and in this case I think it gives Tapas Valencia that extra push it needed.
Always a big fan of a sample, we were excited to find out one of our favorite wine shops had a “Try before you buy” option available to customers. Printer’s Row Wine Shop promises you can taste your selection out before you make the commitment. They have over 200 bottles of vino from all over the world plus regular booze in case you aren’t a wino-yet.
Printer’s Row Wine Shop also features plenty of affordable specials and frequent wine and spirit tasting. 719 S Dearborn St. (312) 663-9314.