Night One: La Pepita was just the type of place I had hoped for. With the energy of a favorite neighborhood restaurant, it was absolutely packed and we would not have gotten a seat at 9pm without reservations (early by Spanish standards). We decided to give ourselves over to the chef and let them choose which tapas to bring out for us to share. With a lovely bottle of Catalan wine to accompany the meal, the dishes started to arrive. In fact, they arrived so quickly we could barely keep up. They were tasty, some exceptionally so, but the restaurant was so busy that it felt like the small kitchen was simply pumping out tapas as fast as it could, and as a result the pacing was definitely off.
It was too much, too fast, with not enough time to savor what we were eating. Dishes like Anchovy Dulche de Leche take time to dwell on (and yes, that sweet-salty thing worked). Another anchovy dish that contained tuna, potato, balsamic, and lime was one of our favorites, and a simple plate of Imberico ham with potato croquetas was perfection. But without time to breathe we were getting full fast, and after eight dishes we put a halt to the tapas frenzy. Well, almost. We were encouraged to have a final tapas of Argentine beef or grilled artichokes. I had read how good the beef was, and I’m a huge fan of artichokes, so we decided to order both even though we were stuffed. Unfortunately, the artichokes were inedible and a huge disappointment, but the beef was very tender and tasty.
By this point the restaurant was still busy, but there were a few tables clearing out. The pace was slowing down and our harried waiter was becoming more relaxed and talkative. We were also being served by Sofia, who was the wife of the chef, a co-owner, and extremely friendly. They brought out a chocolate pepita for dessert without charge, although it left us underwhelmed. However, the three bottles of digestives they left on our table and told us to help ourselves to – sweet, herbal, and strong – were delicious and just what we needed after our meal. Ten dishes plus dessert later, we left La Pepita exchanging hugs and kisses with the staff.
Would we go again? Absolutely. Overall, the atmosphere, service, and food were great, even with a couple of unsuccessful dishes (and I should note that I’ve read others raving about these very same dishes). If I lived nearby this would be my go-to neighborhood restaurant. However, next time I might consider a later reservation and I might try ordering a la carte. I loved being surprised with the different dishes that came out of the kitchen, but I’d like to try some different items that I know they have and could order at my own pace. I’d also try their Gin Tonic, as it’s supposed to be one of the best in town.