There’s been a flood of Spanish restaurants in the local dining scene, with Michelin-starred Brit Jason Atherton’s Esquina leading the revival back last December, followed more recently by Salt tapas & bar care of Aussie celeb chef/restaurateur Luke Mangan. Somewhere in between and somewhat under the radar, FoodBar DaDa snuck in. And boy, are we glad. It’s a refreshing change from fancy spots backed by big bucks and big names.
Although you might be tempted to liken it to similarly shoebox-sized Esquina, and while both have that whole industrial chic décor in common, that’s where the similarities end. There’s a bit more character and a cool, almost underground feel to dimly lit DaDa (for now at least), as well as markedly different grub that changes depending on what’s fresh at the market.
Forget complicated dishes with equally complex names and descriptions, it’s mostly just simple tapas done well, and (generally) cheaper, too; save big-ticket offerings such as paella ($28) and Josper-grilled beef ($60). Skip items like the watermelon gazpacho with charcoal olive oil ice cream ($12) in favor of deliciously full-flavored, briny escalivada toast with anchovies and red pepper foam ($8). Sishito peppers with shitakes ($11) are a triumph, as is the hearty hotpot with lentils, chunks of potato and chorizo ibérico ($12).
Service can be a little rough around the edges, but that’s part of the charm. It certainly hasn’t deterred this three-and-a-half-month-old joint from reeling folks in, even on weeknights. Extra points for the fact that they’re open till late and they take reservations.
Come prepared to order just about everything.