Tia Pol: Sharing Passion for Spanish Tapas in Chelsea

Restaurant New York City

Tia Pol has become popular for Spanish-style small plates.

Heather Belz, Mani Dawes and chef Alexandra Raij share a passion for Spanish cuisine and have co-owned Tia Pol, a Chelsea “Bar of Tapas,” since Ano 2004. Chef Raij and sous chef Eder Montero lead the tiny but effective New York City kitchen.


Tapas Bar New York City

The long and lean tapas bar features soft natural light and a relaxed vibe. It’s kind of how I imagine tapas bars in Spain. I hope to find out if that’s the case.

The bar offers an all Spanish wine list. The blackboard lists a bargain three-course, $16 tasting menu, which changes daily. There’s also an extensive tapas menu, and a lunch menu. With so many enticing options, ordering is a dilemma.

Tia Pol offers plenty of classic tapas, including patatas bravas, brandada, grilled whole shrimp, and tortilla Espanola, and they looked good when they emerged from the kitchen, but we targeted some of the more unusual items.

Spanish Food New York City

A generous helping of Garbanzos Fritos ($3) featured crispy skins when fried. Dusted with the Spanish red pepper known as pimenton, I think we just found a viable popcorn alternative.

Spanish Food New York City

Paquetitos de Jamon con alcachofa ($9) were three Jamon Serrano packets filled with artichokes and Manchego, drizzled with olive oil. Simple but delicious.

Spanish Food New York City

The most compelling flavor combination consisted of Chorizo Con Chocolate (2 for $3.50), toasts topped with thin-sliced Palacios chorizo and bittersweet chocolate. Spicy sausage and mild chocolate formed an intoxicating duo.

Spanish Food New York City

Pinchos Marunos (2 for $5) were simple but flavorful grilled lamb skewers served with bread.

Spanish Food New York City

In addition to the ham croquettes, Tia Pol also offers Croquetas del Dia. Friday’s croquettes were salt cod brandade (2 for $4), crisp outside, creamy inside.

I was intrigued by Carocolillos Barrio Chino (periwinkles, Chinatown style), until Allison informed me those are sea snails, and that she used to pick them out of sandcastles at the beach when she was a kid.

Spanish Food New York City

Garlic butter rendered Navajas Y Almejas (razor clams and cockles, $7) wonderfully supple.

Spanish Food New York City

We concluded our seven-course meal with Pescado en Adobo ($5), crispy marinated mako shark chunks. The light batter was tangy, and shark meat was surprisingly moist.

Considering there were only two cooks the kitchen, it was amazing how quickly each plate arrived, and that they were so good. The ingredients were all fresh, and there was clearly some creativity, though we weren’t tempted by dessert: orange flan, red wine sorbet floating in Coca-Cola, and almond confection with almond ice cream.

Tia Pol: Sharing Passion for Spanish Tapas in Chelsea

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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