The pintxos from Estadio

Saturday afternoon, I headed over to Estadio (14th and Church) for some bites and drinks. Now, Estadio has a lot of buzz around it, both positive and negative. The reviews on Yelp are so uneven – some people had wonderful experiences and some were awful. I’ve read tweets raving about the food and experience and I’ve read tweets bemoaning the service, portion sizes, and the quality of the food. So, going into the experience, my expectations were not high.

We went around 5:30 and easily got a seat at the bar. The restaurant wasn’t very crowded at all. Thinking we’d get a few bites and a drink (PDF menu), we ordered two pintxos (skewered bites) – the chorizo/manchego/quince ($1.50 each) and jamon wrapped fig/cabrales/marcona almonds ($2.50 each). The bites were small but good. We also got a bocadillo (sandwich) that was tiny – maybe four bites, but a very good four bites. The chorizo with idiazabal cheese was warm and wonderful.

Still hungry from these tiny bites, we ordered the patatas bravas and tortilla espanola, two classics. The servings for these were much larger, larger than I was expecting based on what I’d heard about how small the servings are. The patatas were very good, not the complete classic version you’d get in Spain, but all the flavors are there. The tortilla espanola came with spicy sauteed peppers, which added a nice bite to the dish.

Warm peach cake dessert

As for drinks, we stuck with tinto de verano after hearing (and seeing) how tiny the much-vaunted slushitos were. For $9, I wanted more. Tinto de verano ($7), red wine with lemon soda, was refreshing and tasty. I’d say stick to the tradicionales section of the drink menu, where Spanish favorite calimocho sits. From my experience (one of my best friends lives in Spain), these are the drinks Spaniards actually drink, vs. sangria.

To finish, we were intrigued by the desserts and went with warm peach cake with goat cheese ice cream and thyme caramel. Yeah, it was good.

We ended up spending $30/person with 4 drinks – not bad but we didn’t have a full meal (though in fact, I just ended up having a small snack later in the night, I was pretty full).

I really liked the decor, part very medieval Spanish and part whimsical – the bathroom doors are adorned with the most beautiful (and married to each other) Spaniards – Penelope Cruz for women and Javier Bardem for men. And, the inside of the women’s bathroom at least has a huge mural of Spanish soccer players without their shirts on.

The verdict: I liked it a lot, but I think this is a place to go for early drinks and snacks instead of a full-fledged meal unless you want to a) drop a lot of money and b) be prepared to wait because they don’t take reservations past 6 for groups smaller than 6.

Have you been? What do you think?