Best Tapas/Small Plates

Ocho

In Spain, the main meal of the day is a late lunch typically served around 2 or 3 p.m. and followed by a siesta. Clearly, it's a country that has its priorities straight. With that in mind, Americans would be wise to treat tapas as they do in España. Order a dozen different dishes and gorge yourself on a smorgasbord-style meal if you must, but Spaniards appreciate the value of having just a snack with a glass of wine as a way to bridge those interminable hours between lunch and a light dinner, or between dinner and a long night of drinking. Ocho understands. The tapas at this tiny Ballard restaurant are mostly just a few bites each, meant to sate the bellies of drinkers lounging in their intimate bar or, in the summer, on their sun-soaked patio. The food is both traditional (gambas al ajillo, prawns in a divine garlic sauce) and inventive (pancetta-wrapped, blue cheese-stuffed dates with balsamic reduction), and the bartenders pour some of the finest cocktails in town. Stick to the Spanish rule of thumb—one tapa per drink—and both your wallet and waistline will thank you later. KEEGAN HAMILTON 2325 N.W. Market St., 784-0699, ochoballard.com

 
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