Sometimes I pick an unfamiliar restaurant on OpenTable without a lot of research, make a reservation, and take my chances. I’ve done well enough with that strategy, and in any case, it’s usually an inexpensive place, so there isn’t much to lose.
That’s what we did on Friday night, and we hit the jackpot with Matador Bistro Latino, a Spanish restaurant in the West Village. Matador has been open for about 2½ years, without attracting much critical attention. The neighborhood seems to know about it, though. We found a busy bar scene at around 8:00 p.m., and by around 9:00 the dining room was full.
With tapas priced $3–14 and entrées $14–23, Matador won’t break the bank. We ordered four tapas and a paella to share, along with a pitcher of sangria, and it was plenty. The whole bill for two was around $85, which in New York must be considered a bargain.
Rice balls (left); Crab cake over rice (right)
The kitchen sent out a plate of rice balls as an amuse-bouche. A crab cake was wonderful, with fresh corn adding a surprsingly effective contrast.
Beef skewers with chimichurre sauce (left); Pita bread (right)
Beef skewers with chimichurre sauce were tender and deftly spiced. Pita bread was soft and warm, though it didn’t arrive early enough.
Fried calamari (left); Grilled sardines (right)
Fried calamari was also skillfully prepared, not greasy or oily at all. My girlfriend gamely indulged my request for grilled sardines. Eating a whole fish isn’t for everyone, but I found them delightfully salty and crunchy.
Chicken and sausage paella
We weren’t as happy with a chicken and sausage paella, which we found too greasy, and lacking the spicy “kick” the tapas had.
Service was competent, but the tapas came out a bit too quickly, one after the other. I would have preferred a bit more time to breathe between courses. The space isn’t large, nor are the tables. On a Friday night, it gets a bit loud.
With those minor complaints aside, we thought Matador was a gem. The tapas were excellent, and at the price it was one of the better bargains we’ve seen.
Matador Bistro Latino (57 Greenwich Avenue at Perry Street, West Village)