Before the multiple-plate style of tapas, dinner parties ate from one big plate and then sat in awkward silence after everyone tried to lick it clean. Meander through a multiplate meal or stick to one eating slate with today's Groupon: for $25, you get $50 worth of Argentinean and Spanish dinner and drinks at La Zarza in the East Village.
Earthy exposed brick and wood swaddle diners in rustic warmth as they hunker down to fill up on La Zarza's contemporary Argentinean-Spanish cuisine. Generous grazers make a meal of the tapas, such as brie con membrillo, which employs warm brie, caramelized onions, and quince paste to keep grilled focaccia warm ($3.50), whereas the savory spanish ham—jamon serrano—tangos with manchego cheese on tasters' tongues ($4.50). Guests entertaining thoughts of not sharing with a date who can’t stop checking for treats under the tablecloth, can try the salmon en salsa verde ($21), or the carbonara criolla, an Argentinean stew stocked with braised beef, vegetables, and dried fruits ($24). Argentinean-inspired desserts coax sweet-loving stomachs out of hibernation with original spins on classic meal endings, such as crispy, fried-dough churros filled with chocolate and dusted with cinnamon sugar ($6).
Mouthfuls of tapas can get an extra push from a selection of sangrias ranging from the mango-based mangoria to the berry-based zarazangria ($6 plus choice of wine). Original mojitos, such as the ginger-grounded jengibre ($11) and the lychee ($14), deliver a one-two punch of alcohol and antioxidant action to patrons looking to fuel up for La Zarza’s Wednesday night serenade, featuring Spanish guitarists playing flamenco and rumba starting at 7 p.m.
Flickering candles tucked into tiny caves garnish an exposed-brick wall or glimmer atop rich, dark wooden tables, spreading their glow onto a wall forged from rustic timber planks. This combination of soft lighting and contemporary-yet-pastoral decor fosters a sophisticated, Spanish-inspired ambiance inside La Zarza. But it's the eatery's menu of authentic Argentinean and Spanish cuisine made from indigenous recipes and organic ingredients that really transports diners to another country.
To bolster bites of tapas, fresh ceviche, and slow-cooked steaks—an Argentinean staple—live guitarists strum traditional Spanish tunes and reality show theme songs every Friday and Saturday. The soundtrack continues thumping further into the night when La Zarza morphs into an upscale lounge fueled by pulsing beats from international DJs. At full bars across two floors, bartenders regale revelers with mojitos, sangria, and signature cocktails amid chic furnishings, such as opulent chandeliers and crimson drapery.