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El Mesón

October 26, 2005, 12:00 am
By
Once you have scarfed down an authentic Spanish paella and lived to tell the tale, nothing less than a black frying pan filled with critters who scurried out of the ocean just to nestle into a bed of rice will do. It is, after all, a serious test of fortitude devouring shrimp and crab with shell, legs and eyes still intact in an oceanside café in Barcelona. You may have noticed that we're, oh, 1,000 miles ***image1***away from any body of water capable of providing such fresh fare. But El Mesón serves up a vicious (and fresh) paella a la Valenciana with all the flavor and none of the freak show of dishes served back in España. El Mesón chef and owner David Huertas was raised in Madrid, and after living and learning in exotic locales like Belgium, Peru, Chile, Venezuela and…um…Ohio, brought his flair for both authenticity and modernity to Santa Fe when he opened the restaurant in the summer of 1997. El Mesón-and the accompanying ¡Chispa! tapas bar-serve up a formidable challenge to both lovers of Spanish cuisine and those who obstinately try to read the leather-bound menu filled with tongue-twisting dishes like almejas a la Senluqueña, aceitunas variadas y alcaparrones and boquerones en escabeche. The reward for running the linguistic gauntlet is on the plate in front of you. Behind you live jazz will help wrestle the paella in your paunch into submission. Just be wary about navigating through ¡Chispa! to the bathroom on tango night, when the tables in the tapas bar are cleared and smartly dressed couples dance the night-and the paella-away.

213 Washington Ave., 983-6756.
Dinner and tapas Tuesday through Saturday. $$$
www.elMesón-santafe.com

 

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