Hot potato, the earliest dish designed to be passed, is nearly extinct due to the constant ravages of grade-school appetites. Today’s Groupon revives rotating refreshments. For $25, you get $50 worth of tapas, sangria, and Spanish-style eats at Oliva Restaurant and Bar. This Citysearch 2008 pick for Best First Date Spot is a lively eatery located on the Lower East Side at 161 East Houston Street.
Shake things up with a Crayola-hued libation, like the juicy mango margarita ($9) or the Mama Juana ($6), a house specialty and Dominican aphrodisiac. Oliva also features wines and bubbly by the glass or bottle, beer, sangria, and tequila to sip on. An extensive tapas menu presents plenty of small-plated possibilities. Nosh on bacon-cuddled dates ($9), fried stuffed olives ($8), or calamari served with aioli ($10). Cater to heavier cravings with grilled skirt steak ($21) or roasted chicken ($21) sided with olive-oil mashed potatoes. Soups, salads, and cheese plates round out the menu. For dessert, fork vanilla-bean flan ($7) or Oliva’s take on the cheesecake ($8).
Live music on select nights coupled with a seductive dining room bathed in soft light helps to attract a buzzy, vibrant crowd. For more than a decade, the centrally located eatery has served as an epicurean passport to an energetic, internationally spiked evening. Tango, Latin pop, and Cuban salsa sounds take the edge off a blind date, and the finger-friendly menu is ideal for large groups or shy stomachs.
Citysearchers give Oliva four stars, and Yelpers give it three. Check out what New York magazine and Time Out New York had to say: > * We might have missed a Jimmy Choo or two under the tiny, painted tables. But it seems that Oliva is full of youngish dressed-for-comfort East Villagers here for the fabulous Basque cooking, not for a teeny martini and a lettuce leaf. Don’t miss the pintxos plate, a collection of savory two-bite tapas. – New York > * With a salsa Cubano band playing most nights of the week, this spirited sangria-and-tapas eatery often gets as loud as the corner of Houston and Allen outside. Oliva primarily peddles traditional tapas, from a fat wedge of tortilla de patatas (potato omelette) and warm, ham-flecked croquettes to plump olives. – Time Out New York > * This place is a real gem. Intimate setting with great tapas and the best sangria I’ve had in many years. – tzepete, Citysearch
161 E Houston St.
New York, New York 10002Get Directions