Elizabeth, New Jersey caters to almost every type of flavor and flare you might be craving - from island food emanating from the Caribbean to pastas and paellas originating around the coast of the Mediterranean. To that end, quite a few of Elizabeth’s restaurants serve savory Spanish food that rivals anything you’ll find this side of the Atlantic. Imagine the swirling dresses of flamenco dancers and stomping feet during a pasodoble. Can you hear the thrumming strums across the strings of classical guitars and the roar of the crowds inside a bullfighting arena? Excellent! Now that you have the sights and sounds of Spain in mind, it’s time to allow the smells and flavors of Spanish cuisine overwhelm you.
Traditional Spanish dishes have roots stretching to Moorish to even Roman, with spices, rice, and nuts accenting meals in various and nuanced ways. At Taberna Del Rei, a restaurant opened over two decades ago by Julio and Maria Figueiredo, you’ll experience many of these wonderful meals that have patrons coming back time and again for more. The barbecue meats are tender and delicious and pair nicely with a fruity sangria. If you’re really hungry, go for the half-chicken and orange rice. Then again, a local favorite is the Saturday-only caldo verde (kale soup), so you now have plans for the weekend!
Another option is housed in a historic building over one hundred years old which was once a popular saloon and tavern: Don Felix. Located on the popular Elizabeth Avenue, Don Felix is a modernized restaurant with high-definition televisions, available wi-fi, and an enclosed patio decorated like a coastal scene. But don’t be fooled by the updated surroundings - the dishes are fully based in an old-school, traditional style. The bitoque is packed full of spicy flavors and the picana asada can transport you to dining in a small cafe on the streets of Madrid.
With Barcelona and Valencia hugging the coast of the Mediterranean and Bilbao brushing the Bay of Biscay, seafood is a staple of the Spanish diet. Taberna del Rei will start you off with a refreshing sopa de mariscos (seafood soup) or ameijoas a Espanhola (Spanish-style clams) and keep the seafood coming through tasty entrees like arroz y camaron (rice and shrimp) and parralhada - a dish for two featuring salmon, lobster, squid, and clams. If you decide to dine at Don Felix, the salmon asado con vegetales (salmon and vegetables) or entrana con camarones will fulfill your seafood needs. Feel free to relax and quench your thirst with a cool margarita or piña colada as well - there’s a Happy Hour from 4 to 7 p.m. every Monday through Friday to make it a bit easier on your wallet.
It’s not hard to find great Spanish food in Elizabeth, so go exploring and enjoy the culmination of many cultural foods from the land and sea.