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 shifting sustenance with $30 worth of tapas, sangria, and more for $15 at Spain Restaurant and Toma Bar, located downtown. This Groupon is good toward dinner only.
Sup on full-sized Spanish standards such as grouper al limon ($19), filete de res (beef tenderloins with sautéed mushrooms, $21), or paella (traditional or vegetarian, $19). Or share several plates of tapas caliente y tapas frias to experience the dinner menu as Spaniards intended. Order a glass of homemade sangria ($6) and pair an order of ceviche (lime-marinated shrimp and scallops, $11) with some croquetas (stuffed with Serrano ham and aioli, $7) and a plate of mejillones lorbe (mussels in marinara, $10). Or sip an imported Spanish house wine ($6) between bites of pate de queso ($8), chorizos al jerez ($8), and tortas de cangrejo (crab cakes with chutney, $10).
Passing plates at Spain Restaurant and Toma Bar teaches the importance of sharing to emotionally stunted adults and encourages conversation by eliminating the formal aspects of eating from one plate piled high. Nibble, savor, and talk until you’re full of wine, intoxicating discourse, and traditional delicacies of the Galician region of Spain. Like skydiving and donating a kidney, trying tapas is a risk worth taking.
This Groupon cannot be applied toward cover charges at Spain Restaurant’s musical shows.
WTSP 10 has this feature on Spain Restaurant and Toma Bar:
Metromix Tampa Bay gives the restaurant 4.5 stars, Creative Loafing gives it three stars, Yahoo! Locals give it four stars, and Urbanspooners give it a 76% approval rating. > * Although the restaurant is small, the setup makes for an ideal group setting. Sit back and enjoy the Spanish traditions of good food, good company and good music. Ole! – Nathalie Shultz, Metromix Tampa Bay > * At night, even a tiny bit of light makes the white surfaces radiate a neutral glow more comforting than severe. Flowing curtains separate the cafeteria line from the dining room, and tapas becomes the operative culinary principle. Handmade ceramic pitchers filled with Spain’s brandy-heavy sangria flow from the bar, just as small plates of simple foods fly from the kitchen. – Brian Ries, Creative Loafing
Spain Restaurant and Toma Bar
Since 1980, the Spanish-born Castro family has been serving dishes inspired by the cuisine of Galicia, a region in the northwest of Spain, at their eatery Spain Restaurant and Toma Bar. The kitchen is still helmed by the Castro matriarch, whose deft hands flip manchego-topped seafood crepes and stuff crunchy croquetas with serrano ham. In their crisp, ivory dining room ringed with delicate hanging lamps, parties pass hot plates of mushrooms and goat cheese on toast and cold tapas such as ceviche. Larger entrees satisfy territorial diners with dishes such as fried grouper stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat and served with a lemon sauce. Several tapas are also available in entree-size portions, such as the paella, a harmonious conglomeration that includes clams, mussels, scallops, and chorizo. The restaurant's interior evokes a breezy Spanish patio with soaring arch windows along two walls. Live flamenco music every Friday and Saturday night spices up the aural atmosphere and inspires plates of grilled shrimp to dance along.