Monday, November 12, 2007

I Tapas, Palo Alto

I Tapas
Traditional and "new" small plates off University Ave. in Palo Alto

Emerson Street in Palo Alto, where it crosses University, is a great place for eateries. There's the Peninsula Fountain Creamery Diner and A.G. Ferrari on Hamilton and Emerson, and Gordon Biersch, Buca di Beppo, Mantra, and Empire Tap Room in the next block away from University. On the other side of University, there's Patxi's Chicago-Style Pizza (the most authentic on the Peninsula), Evvia (the best restaurant in Palo Alto), and a new place called I Tapas that sits in the former location of Left at Albuquerque, a favorite of ours for a little while, until the food started to decline and they closed.

I can't even remember now what was there in between that incarnation and this new one, but I hope I Tapas will stick around for a while. It's fairly modern inside, with nice artwork on the walls and a close, but not crowded, dining room. We were told it would be a forty-five minute wait, but we got called not ten minutes later to come back to the restaurant for an available table.

We've done a few tapas places lately: Solera and Cascal are high standards to live up to. But I Tapas holds its own, with a nice assortment of small plates for different palates. We really enjoyed the grilled asparagus with Manchego cheese and serrano ham, the Spanish olives with roasted nuts and cheese crackers, the pulled pork BBQ with lettuce cups, and the Pinchos Morunos (skewers of lamb). The asparagus had great flavor, with just enough cheese and ham to complement it without overwhelming it. The barbecue sauce for the pulled pork was nice and tangy, and we enjoyed the innovation of putting it in lettuce cups. It was satisfyingly messy. And the lamb skewers proved to be the good kind of lamb, with some lamb flavor (not too gamy) and a really nice mix of Mediterranean spices.

If you like tapas, this is one of the better places to get it. There are so many good places to eat in Palo Alto that it's hard to get on our list, but I think we'd definitely go to I Tapas again. It's worthy of being on Emerson Street, that's for sure!

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