Pintxos Tortilleria & Bar | River North | Tapas/Spanish | Restaurant

Pintxos Tortilleria & Bar Menu

Hours: Dinner: Friday-Saturday
Open Late: Friday & Saturday till midnight
Closed: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Price: $$

Named for Basque tapas, this second-floor "secret restaurant" above Cafe Iberico is open on Friday and Saturday nights only.

Restaurant Details

Cafe Iberico started as a small tapas bar that felt authentically Spanish--even after I went to Spain. Since then it’s grown into a sprawling institution churning out massive quantities of food that’s not as good as it once was to boisterous crowds who apparently don’t notice. So I’d like to think Pintxos Tortilleria & Bar, the new second-floor addition devoted to Basque tapas, or pintxos, is an attempt to recapture the excitement and intimacy of the early days rather than just a way of handling Iberico’s overflow weekend crowds--even though it’s only open on Friday and Saturday nights. The dimly lit bar comes closer than the din­ing area in terms of atmosphere, with counter seating and displays of whole tortillas españolas, pollo al ajillo casseroles, and pintxos combos, which come in sets of four with one of six sides. Before anything else, order a tortilla española: it takes 20 minutes. Warm and well made, ours was the highlight of the meal. The pan-roasted chicken drumsticks in olive oil with whole garlic cloves, cubed potatoes, piquillo peppers, green onions, and herbs were juicy and tasty, if not quite crispy enough. We tried eight pintxos, and only the succulent eel passed muster--little morsels of lamb, duck, and Cornish hen were overcooked and dry, as was the section of quail. We also got two scallop slices as thin and lifeless as quarters, three of forgettable butifarra sausage, and a trio of minuscule dates wrapped in ham; sides of leek sauce (more like creamed leeks) and soupy spinach and white beans were OK. The real rip-off was marmitako, a shallow bowl of salty "seafood combo soup" with not a speck of seafood despite the promise of three kinds of fish from a server who seemed to be on automatic pilot. Among the mini desserts, priced at just $1.50: smooth crema catalana and coconut pudding the consistency of dried tar. Quaffable wines for $3.50 a tumbler ameliorated my disappointment somewhat, but the mediocre cortado (espresso with steamed milk) made me want to hop a plane to Madrid.

Anne Spiselman

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Price: $$

Payment Type: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

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