Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Spanish cravings

Tapas at Costa Brava in Pacific Beach

The selection of Spanish cheeses, with some salty garnishes
The selection of Spanish cheeses, with some salty garnishes

Despite the surfeit of marvelous Mexican cuisine, San Diego suffers a dearth of attractive Spanish food options. There was Iberico Spanish Bistro in La Jolla, which was good, but outrageously priced, and is now closed. Of course, there’s Javier Plascencia’s Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro in Bonita, which offers an extensive and excellent list of classic Spanish small plates, with a Mexican twist. But for a bona fide Barcelona experience, the closest I’ve found thus far is Costa Brava.

I cut my teeth on tapas at Toro, one of Ken Oringer’s Boston restaurants, to which I’ve returned half a dozen times. I’ve also been to Madrid and Barcelona, where I was able to taste the classic flavors (olive oil, cheese, ham, Tempranillo and Garnacha wine, seafood, sausage, peppers, etc.) in their native land, from the pintxos places in the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) to the legendary Cal Pep.

Warm and welcoming interior at Costa Brava
Place

Costa Brava

1653 Garnet Avenue, San Diego

Costa Brava is a diluted version of the greats. Like your local red sauce joint compared to elevated Italian food at a Mario Batali flagship, it may not be a life-changing eggplant Parmesan, but it’s simple, enjoyable, and will get the job done. The ambience plays up the Spanish theme — the dining room is warm and welcoming, with white tablecloths, dark wooden chairs, arched doorways, and old country-style art on the walls. On some nights, adding to the already festive ambience, guitarists and singers perform Spanish music.

Mushrooms sautéed in a garlic Sherry sauce

On our last visit, with a few friends, David and I ordered some simple classics, such as the Champiñones al Ajilla, or sautéed mushrooms in a garlic and Sherry wine sauce ($6.25). Though they’re flavorful enough on their own, I like to enjoy them with the fresh warm bread that comes with the table.

Not much to look at, but these chicken croquettes were plenty flavorful
More like Italy's bruschetta than Spain's pan con tomate, though still delicious

Anything fried is a crowd-pleaser, and the Croquetas de Pollo ($6.95) did not disappoint, though personally I prefer versions with more of the creamy potato to chicken ratio. One of our favorite go-to appetizers at any tapas place is the pan con tomate, which is a toasted slice of baguette onto which a tomato has been vigorously rubbed, leaving only the essence of the tomato flavor, and then drizzled with olive oil and coarse sea salt (sometimes, garlic is also rubbed on, adding a bit of spice). Costa Brava’s version (Pan Tomaca con Jamón) is more like the Italian bruschetta, with diced tomatoes, garlic, and basil (an ingredient not usually found in tapas), all covered with ham. When asked whether or not they could do a simple version without the ham, we were told no — this was the only option, and it was $10.95.

We ordered a Spanish cheese sampler ($15.50), which, though plenty palatable, is pricey for what you get and, thus, probably one to skip unless you’ve really got a hankering for cheese.

Scrumptious sautéed chorizo
Sautéed pork sausage (blood sausage) and onions

To satisfy the meat lovers at the table, we got the sautéed chorizo sausage ($6.95) and the pork sausage with onions ($8.95), the latter of which came with a disclaimer — it’s blood sausage. Our server seemed surprised when David said, “Ooh, great!” The chorizo, having been sautéed after it was sliced, had a pleasant crispness to the bite. I skipped the pork, but everyone else said it was excellent.

Tortilla Española, or Spanish Omelette

The least-touched item on the table was the Tortilla Española, or Spanish omelet ($6.75), a potato/onion/egg frittata-like dish. This one was more egg than onion or potato, and on the bland side, which was unfortunate.

When we’re craving Spanish food but don’t feel like dining out, David will hit up Pata Negra, which is Costa Brava’s market, located just a few doors down, and stock up on all the great Spanish ingredients he needs to create tapas for us at home.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

If sci-fi glam really makes a comeback, UNI will rule them all

Big changes for little band may put them at the head of the class of 2020
Next Article

Gordon Parks’ Batman and Robin crimebusters

The old guard doesn’t cotton to being upstaged by a pair of rookies
The selection of Spanish cheeses, with some salty garnishes
The selection of Spanish cheeses, with some salty garnishes

Despite the surfeit of marvelous Mexican cuisine, San Diego suffers a dearth of attractive Spanish food options. There was Iberico Spanish Bistro in La Jolla, which was good, but outrageously priced, and is now closed. Of course, there’s Javier Plascencia’s Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro in Bonita, which offers an extensive and excellent list of classic Spanish small plates, with a Mexican twist. But for a bona fide Barcelona experience, the closest I’ve found thus far is Costa Brava.

I cut my teeth on tapas at Toro, one of Ken Oringer’s Boston restaurants, to which I’ve returned half a dozen times. I’ve also been to Madrid and Barcelona, where I was able to taste the classic flavors (olive oil, cheese, ham, Tempranillo and Garnacha wine, seafood, sausage, peppers, etc.) in their native land, from the pintxos places in the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) to the legendary Cal Pep.

Warm and welcoming interior at Costa Brava
Place

Costa Brava

1653 Garnet Avenue, San Diego

Costa Brava is a diluted version of the greats. Like your local red sauce joint compared to elevated Italian food at a Mario Batali flagship, it may not be a life-changing eggplant Parmesan, but it’s simple, enjoyable, and will get the job done. The ambience plays up the Spanish theme — the dining room is warm and welcoming, with white tablecloths, dark wooden chairs, arched doorways, and old country-style art on the walls. On some nights, adding to the already festive ambience, guitarists and singers perform Spanish music.

Mushrooms sautéed in a garlic Sherry sauce

On our last visit, with a few friends, David and I ordered some simple classics, such as the Champiñones al Ajilla, or sautéed mushrooms in a garlic and Sherry wine sauce ($6.25). Though they’re flavorful enough on their own, I like to enjoy them with the fresh warm bread that comes with the table.

Not much to look at, but these chicken croquettes were plenty flavorful
More like Italy's bruschetta than Spain's pan con tomate, though still delicious

Anything fried is a crowd-pleaser, and the Croquetas de Pollo ($6.95) did not disappoint, though personally I prefer versions with more of the creamy potato to chicken ratio. One of our favorite go-to appetizers at any tapas place is the pan con tomate, which is a toasted slice of baguette onto which a tomato has been vigorously rubbed, leaving only the essence of the tomato flavor, and then drizzled with olive oil and coarse sea salt (sometimes, garlic is also rubbed on, adding a bit of spice). Costa Brava’s version (Pan Tomaca con Jamón) is more like the Italian bruschetta, with diced tomatoes, garlic, and basil (an ingredient not usually found in tapas), all covered with ham. When asked whether or not they could do a simple version without the ham, we were told no — this was the only option, and it was $10.95.

We ordered a Spanish cheese sampler ($15.50), which, though plenty palatable, is pricey for what you get and, thus, probably one to skip unless you’ve really got a hankering for cheese.

Scrumptious sautéed chorizo
Sautéed pork sausage (blood sausage) and onions

To satisfy the meat lovers at the table, we got the sautéed chorizo sausage ($6.95) and the pork sausage with onions ($8.95), the latter of which came with a disclaimer — it’s blood sausage. Our server seemed surprised when David said, “Ooh, great!” The chorizo, having been sautéed after it was sliced, had a pleasant crispness to the bite. I skipped the pork, but everyone else said it was excellent.

Tortilla Española, or Spanish Omelette

The least-touched item on the table was the Tortilla Española, or Spanish omelet ($6.75), a potato/onion/egg frittata-like dish. This one was more egg than onion or potato, and on the bland side, which was unfortunate.

When we’re craving Spanish food but don’t feel like dining out, David will hit up Pata Negra, which is Costa Brava’s market, located just a few doors down, and stock up on all the great Spanish ingredients he needs to create tapas for us at home.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Treetop Tutoring Center: Jeanne Volk‘s triple tutoring whammy

“Kids miss school friends they were used to seeing and playing with most days.”
Next Article

Covid-19 casts a pall over San Diego political money

Barbara Bry's daughter lends $5000
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close