Dreaming of visiting or returning to Spain but don’t have the time to travel? After the Galician dishes and abundant Spanish wine you enjoy at Nai Tapas in the East Village you’ll think you’re there! Nai Tapas originally opened in 2010, but has recently moved into a larger, two-story location on 2nd Avenue at 5th Street. The space, filled with mismatched chairs and metallic accents, was designed by fashion stylist and creative director Amy Mach in conjunction with the chef. Chef Ruben Rodriguez takes inspiration from his mother, or nai in Gallego, the language of Galicia, who raised him while running her own restaurant in Spain. After honing his skills in his homeland, Rodriguez came to New York and created a menu that pays tribute to Spain while allowing creativity and innovation to guide the way.
The main menu consists of two sections: Tapas Modernas and Tapas Tradicionales. Dishes range from truffle-marinated portobello mushroom carpaccio and a Galician take on ramen to the more typical pinxtos, croquetas and patatas bravas. Don’t miss the pork belly, which is marinated for 24 hours, slow roasted for four and a half hours then pressed for an additional six hours before being plated with carrot puree, candied pecans and homemade yuca chips. Sure you could order one of everything on the menu, but you could also put yourself in the hands of Chef Rodriguez and his team and opt for a stunning tasting menu. At $89 with unlimited sangria and $110 with wine parings, this high quality, ten-course tasting is incredibly affordable.
Start off with the stellar champagne sangria and then just try to keep track of which exceptionally paired wine you should be drinking at any give time. The menu shows influences from global cuisines and techniques and combines Asian flavors, modernist techniques, and Spanish tradition with great results. The show-stopping dish is Pollo a la Brasa: sweet mustard marinated chicken thighs finished over lava rocks then served atop poblano-avocado puree artfully plated on butcher paper with squirts of aioli and chipotle sauces, tobiko, seaweed and Champagne-pickled shallots.
Between courses you’ll find your new favorite party drinks: wine marinated watermelon cubes and lemon-mint infused Cava. End the night with a chocolate filled churro while finishing off your now go-to wines from all over Spain. If you’re looking for a special occasion spot or just want to treat yourself to a wonderful experience, Nai Tapas should be at the top of your list. Need another reason to visit: they have Flamenco shows on Thursday and Saturday nights!
85 2nd Avenue
Monday–Wednesday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
Thursday–Saturday: 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Sunday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM