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Best Tapas Houston 2008 - Rioja



11920 Westheimer Rd.

Houston, TX 77077


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Serving classic tapas and sangria, Rioja is a standard among Spanish restaurants in Houston. It is pretty much a no-brainer that when you go to Rioja, you're going to get some pretty badass tapas, like the house-made chorizo or the fried shrimp with smoked paprika. Rioja serves good-size proportions of authentic, well-made tapas, reasonably priced and made with fresh ingredients. But the kicker is you can wash them down with an amazing sangria. In a nutshell, this place is perfect for getting borracho and having some handy snacks to take care of you.

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The night that Spain won against Germany for the World Cup Semifinals, my family and I decided to celebrate it having dinner at a Spanish restaurant and we decided for Rioja Tapas Restaurant in Houston.We arrived at Rioja at around 9 pm and there was no hostess available, we had to wait a few minutes until a server showed up. She asked somebody else to decide what side of the restaurant to seat us. Then we selected a table and when we sat down we noticed that the chairs and the floor were all sticky. The server told us “oh sorry but we were very busy this afternoon since the Spain ‘s victory all the people were throwing wine all over the place. So we sat down at a different table. Since this was my first time I definitely wanted to try their very acclaimed “paella” . The paella came and it was not as good as everybody says. I gave a try to my 7 year old son and he said “YUUUCK” I was surprised to hear that from him and seeing his face, since he is very polite and he knows how to behave at a table, so I asked him, “what is it? he said, with tears in his eyes and almost throwing up... LOOK at it. To my big surprise it was a COCKROACH!!! in my “award winning paella”... ...I went speechless for a moment since everybody at my table tried that paella. It has been the first and worst, grossest dining-out experience I ever had at a fancy restaurant in my entire life. The worst thing here is, since that night, my son can not eat without inspecting his plate, even at home.Okay, then I asked the server to come over and advised her about the COCKROACH, she immediately took the plate and apologized for the incident. The manager came over our table and he also started picking up all the plates and he excused us about the issue. He offered us no to pay the entire bill and also offered us a free dinner for four, next time.Of course we are not going to come back again to this restaurant. The free dinner for four has been listed on ebay with a starting bid of $0.01