In my never-ending quest to try all the restaurants in our neighborhood, one night I convinced Kiyo to accompany me to La Rioja, a tapas place in Astoria. We began with some standard bread, nothing exciting or memorable about it. It was served with cheap butter that wasn’t very good. But read on, because the tapas definitely made up for this less-than-stellar beginning!
I ordered a glass of sangria, perfect for the hot evening. It was fruity and almost had a thick or dense flavor; I hate when sangria is watery so this didn’t disappoint.
We shared three tapas, which was plenty to fill us up. My favorite was Patatas a la Rioja: spicy chorizo with paprika mashed potatoes and aioli. The aioli perfectly complemented the spicy chorizo and the creamy paprika potatoes were just delicious. In Hungary and other countries in Europe paprika is used more often (in Amsterdam and Germany I fell in love with paprika chips) and I really think it’s underused here in the US.
The other two tapas were equally tasty. I loved the Dátiles con Bacón (bacon-wrapped dates) and my least favorite (which doesn’t mean it wasn’t good!) was the Croquetas de Serrano (Serrano ham and cheese croquettes). Each appetizer was a bit heavy but since the portions are very small, it didn’t feel like too much. I’d love to go back and try some more! It would be the perfect place to bring a large group of friends, to enjoy pitchers of sangria and all the share-able tapas.
La Rioja Restaurant
Open: Sunday – Thursday noon – 11:00 p.m., Friday & Saturday noon – midnight
Location: 33-05 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106 Phone: (718) 932-0101