Andalucia Tapas and Taverna
Adding to the list of restaurants opening in the Houston Pavilions is Youssef Nafaa's Andalucia Tapas and Taverna (1201 San Jacinto, 832-319- 6673). Nafaa is the owner of the Mia Bella restaurants as well as Saffron, the city's only Moroccan restaurant, and Coco's Crêperie. "Since I sold Mi Luna in the Village six years ago, I have always wanted to create a very authentic Spanish restaurant," says Nafaa. "At Andalucia, we have a great energy. It's warm and rustic with dark woods, an iron chandelier and a huge mural of a bullfighter. We're serving tapas and a few entrées like paella for two to 16 people. We have flamenco on Thursdays through Saturdays, and we serve sangria, ports and sherries.
When asked about the kinds of tapas he's serving, Nafaa says, "We have all the traditional tapas like gambas al ajillo [shrimp cooked in olive oil and garlic], and albóndigas [meatballs], but then we also have some interesting ones like veal tongue and oxtail."
When Dish visited late on the first weekend they were open, the crowds had already gathered, and the festivities and sound were already at a high level. The tapas are divided into two sections, hot and cold, with an incredible selection and prices starting at $3 a plate. In addition to the oxtail and veal tongue, both of which were superb, we also thoroughly enjoyed grilled sardines and fresh anchovies (no similarity to the salty kind). For a couple of brief hours, we were transported to a bustling taberna in the middle of Madrid. Nafaa has captured the food and atmosphere perfectly. Warning: the sangria is the most potent (and best) we've ever tried.
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