Nai Tapas Bar, which specializes in traditional Galician cuisine, is perhaps my new favorite restaurant. The boyfriend and I read raving reviews on Yelp and decided to give them a try. We looked at their menu online and noticed how cheap their tapas are. I truly hate tapas bars that offer small tapas at like $11+. Nai is completely different. Most of their small sized tapas range from $5- $7, which is super cheap. You can order quite a good amount of dishes for under $40, which is our usual aim for a meal.
When we entered Nai, it was pretty much empty since we arrived at 6pm. We were seated immediately at a two-seater and given menus. Our waiter explained that it was happy hour so most of the alcohol was half price. I will definitely be back when I’m 21 because I heard their sangria is ah-mazing.
I had already picked a couple of dishes ahead of time based on Yelp reviews but we added a dish to our list, bringing our tapas choices up to six. After we ordered, the waiter brought over a basket of bread with olive oil. I really must complement our waiter because midway through our meal, he noticed our empty bread basket and gave us a new one. I’ve never had a bread basket refilled mid-meal before and I really appreciated this.
Our first dish was the croquetas de pollo ($5), or chicken croquettes. They actually brought out ham croquettes to us by accident and our waiter interrupted to bring over the chicken ones. Instead of taking the ham croquettes back to the kitchen, he let us keep it for free. I really loved that. Now, onto the croquettes. They were DELISH. The filling was so smooth that with every bite, it almost melted into my mouth. This was definitely my favorite dish of the night.
Next was the patatas alioli ($5), or cream garlic potatoes. These little potato bites are skillet fried and then drenched in a garlic cream sauce. I could smell the delicious garlic the moment our waiter put it down. Both the boyfriend and I couldn’t keep our forks off of this dish. The cream sause was very good. It wasn’t overly creamy and wet. There was just the right amount on each piece of potato. Definitely right up there at the top of the list.
While we were still munching on the potatoes, our waiter brought over the crepes de txangurro ($5), or crepes with crabmeat. The crepe itself tasted a lot different than others that I’ve had. The texture was very different. Unlike sweet dessert/breakfast crepes, this one was a bit thicker but not so thick that I couldn’t cut through it with a fork. The crabmeat was very smooth, but this dish didn’t wow me. It was good, but not amazingly good.
As we finished up the potatoes, the pan tumaca ($7), or toast, came. They say toast on the menu, but it’s closer to bruschetta. The tiny toast slices have a layer of chopped tomatoes, which are then covered by a layer of Serrano ham and manchego cheese. This was very very good. The ham was a bit salty, but not overly so and very soft. The cheese was not too sharp and the tomatoes made sure the toast wasn’t too dry. The boyfriend quickly gobbled up two pieces of these!
The last two dishes to arrive were the albondiguillas estofadas, ($5) or brandy-braised meatballs and the almejas marinera ($6), or clams in their house special sauce. First, the meatballs. I had read amazing things about this dish on Yelp so I knew I had to try it. They were beyond good. The meatballs were soft and chewy. But the highlight was the sauce. The brandy-based sauce was made the both of us speechless. We actually used our bread to soak up the rest of the sauce from the dish.
And finally, we get to the clams. The small order came with 6-7 clams, but they were pretty big. The house special sauce is kind of marinara-y. The clams were well cooked and not tough at all. We used the bread (our refilled bread basket) to soak up the sauce. Now that I’ve had the clams, next time I will definitely try out the mussels!
Nai has a delicious dessert menu that includes almond tarts, chocolate lava cakes, and crème brulee ice cream. But one particular dessert option intrigued us. We saw the words “Brazo Gitano” ($7) and wondered what it was. So we asked our waiter who described it as a soft cake that is slathered with a custard-like cream. The cream was favored with caramel, coffee, or fruit. The cake is then rolled up and baked with a layer confectioner’s sugar on top. Our waiter told us that it was his best recommendation. If we didn’t like it, he would take it off our check. We took his word for it and we were not disappointed. It was delicious! The cake was so soft despite the fact that it was served cold. The custard cream in the middle was my favorite part. I could distinctly taste the caramel flavor inside. This is a definite must try!
I’m going to give Nai 5/5 stars because I was very very satisfied. It wasn’t just the food though, which was very good. I’m giving Nai full marks because the service was top-notch. Our waiter was amazing. He answered any questions we had and I loved his absolute trust in their menu. He also told the table next to us that if they didn’t like his recommendations, he would take it back and off their check. The fact that he was willing to own up to any bad dishes showed real responsibility. Also, while I was waiting a very long time for the ladies’ room, another waiter kindly told me that I was free to use the men’s room since my wait was so long. I loved that they noticed!
I am truly in love with this restaurant and I know I will definitely be back many many times in the future.