Translation from English

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Solera Restaurant and Tapas Bar- Midtown East

Another place you could miss very easily

People tend to  really like it as Tapas bars go, with a few detractors as always--I mean some people love iot, others call it an awful place and wonder how it gets any good reviews at all

I sense inconsistency at this place

Solera Restaurant

3.5 star rating
68 reviews Rating Details
Categories: Spanish, Tapas Bars  [Edit]
216 E 53rd St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10022
Neighborhood: Midtown East
(212) 644-1166
Make a Reservation
Nearest Transit Station:
Lexington Ave./53 St. (E, M)
51 St. (4, 6, 6X)
59 St. (4, 5, 6, 6X)
Sat 5:30 pm - 11 pm
Accepts Credit Cards:
Price Range:
Good for Groups:
Good for Kids:
Takes Reservations:
Waiter Service:
Outdoor Seating:
Good For:
Full Bar
Noise Level:
Has TV:
Wheelchair Accessible:

Review Highlights   What's this?

  • "This place has an amazing seafood paella." In 10 reviews
  • "The sangria was light and refreshing, and it went really well with..." In 16 reviews
  • "I recommend the Piquillo peppers, goat cheese & ham." In 7 reviews
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68 reviews in English

  • Review from

    Jersey City, NJ
    6/27/2013 1 check-in here
    Solera has great Spanish style tapas!  I kind of think of it as a hidden gem, because I've searched Tapas many times on Yelp, and it has never shown up.  But, I assure you, the food is really good here, the staff is very attentive and knowledgeable, and I'd definitely go back again!

    First off, they have 4 different kinds of Sangria - red, white, and two sparkling ones.  I think we choose the one made with Cava.  It came in a pitcher that didn't look super big, but I think my friend and I ended up having almost 3 glasses each, with some to spare at the end.  The sangria was light and refreshing, and it went really well with all the food that we ordered.

    We had the filet mignon, which came with yucca friends, grilled veggies, and plantains.  It came out medium rare, exactly like we ordered it.  It didn't lack flavor per se, but the sauce that came with it was so good, that I kept dipping and dragging my meat in it before I ate each bite.

    For appetizers and tapas, we had the grilled mushrooms with a Romesco sauce.  Romesco sauce is a Spanish sauce of tomatoes and almonds.  I had never had it before and I was skeptical because I don't often combine those two, but it was really good.  And you could really taste the almond flavor.  I learned something new, which is something I love to do.

    We also shared the raw tuna with arugula, tomato, and goat cheese with I think a sesame dressing.  This was delicious and the kind of food that I could have every day. It was light, it was healthy, it was so good.  The fresh tuna was just cooked on the outside with a very juicy red center.  It really tamed the bitterness of the arugula, and the goat cheese with tomato was the perfect amount of fat to round out the dish so that you could keep eating until the last bite.

    Also tried the Garlic Shrimp - this was okay.  I think if you love garlic and sauteed shrimp, you would probably like this a lot.  It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as good as the other two appetizers.

    They also served bread and a bunch of different olives while you waited for your food.  I love  olives, and these were not too salty, and very fresh, so that is a thumbs up in my book.

    To recap, in order of preference:
    - Sangria
    - Tuna with arugula goat cheese and tomato
    - Filet Mignon
    - Wild Mushrooms
    - Garlic Shrimp

    I will definitely recommend this to my friends who like Spanish Tapas.
  • Review from

    • 5 friends
    • 13 reviews
    Larchmont, NY
    6/15/2013 Seated via OpenTable
    Great spot for authentic spanish fare. We just asked the waiter to bring out tapas and keep the glasses full for wine. We also shared some paella for the table and everything was wonderful.

    Our group was quite large - 12 - and they sat us in a wonderful back room that had a skylight and had a very open feeling.
  • Review from

    • 3 friends
    • 23 reviews
    Jersey City, NJ
    Paul Allen: "This is really a beehive of, uh, activity, Halberstam. This place is hot, very hot. "

    I have an idea, I think I'll take a Spanish Spanish restaurant. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Note to self: Never make reservations based off of the retards that post on Yelp. You guys are all on drugs...and bad ones. You geniuses wrote these reviews while operating on really awful drugs. Either that, or you've all had your taste buds removed by some twisted German Dr. as part of some sick LSD-fueled experiment. The review below me called it "a hidden gem". Yeah, ok, maybe if you just came down from a 3 day crank bender.

    I'd rather do shots of Drano than visit this hell-hole, again. We should have just walked out upon the realization that there was a grand total of 5 people in the entire 7:45....on a Thursday night. The decor in the dining room in the back made me want to upchuck the bad food that I hadn't even eaten yet. The over-illuminated room was about as romantic as the triage at Beth-Israel. Maybe a candle on the table?? No?  So, there's that.

    Now on to the food:

    Let me preface this by saying, I'm not a picky all. I'd make an awful food critic because I generally think everything is good. I have eaten Beefaroni in the last 6 weeks...and I'm 35. Unless we're talking about steak (I'm an effing steak connoisseur), I'm generally going to be satisfied with what I'm eating.

    We ordered several Tapas, and all of them were forgettable, or worse, inedible. The smoke show Spaniard I brought with me abhorred everything that we ordered. This is not a good sign of authentic Spanish cuisine. The calamari was undercooked, as was the shrimp, and the duck/rice plate started off semi-decent, but as it cooled, resembled something that Fern would serve  Wilbur (Yeah that's right, I just made a Charlotte's Web reference). But hey, the wine was good (because it wasn't made by the hack chefs at this dump).

    Definitely check this place if you're looking to spend your hard-earned money on a bunch of crap, in a very lit setting with no people. If not, check out somewhere a bit Taco Bell.
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 1 review
    Wellfleet, MA
    We had a great evening here. We had the lamb chops which were cooked to perfection--juicy and delicious-- and the vegetable paella. The veggies were crisp snd flavorful.  We had flan and the chocolate brownie for dessert and both were good and not huge portions.  Service was attentive and relaxed. They do not rush you. There was just enough hubbub without drowning out private conversation.  It is pricey but worth it
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 40 reviews
    New York, NY
    Definitely a bit pricey. I came here for tapas and wine.

    Wine was excellent. I must have had a temperanillo or something similar here, but i don't recall.

    The highlights: the calamari and wild mushrooms in garlic. My God. A must-have. The calamari came with this orange dipping sauce which was amazing. And the wild mushrooms came in this dough shaped like a bowl, and this surprised me tremendously. So so good, you won't stop eating. And both come with pretty good portions. We also had duck empenadas which were good also, but not the highlight here.
  • Review from

    • 12 friends
    • 80 reviews
    West New York, NJ
    Visited here for the second time today for a lunch with the soon to be hubby. We couldn't remember our first experience at this place but remembered enough to know we didn't hate it on our first try. We opted to share a bunch of tapas instead of ordering an entree. We shared the croquetas, meatballs, cured meats platter, pan con tomate and patatas bravas. The house gave us complimentary bread (with some type of garlic spread) and olives. We each had a glass of red wine - I had the cabernet sauvignon from the Penedes region and he had the tempranillo. Although both wines were very different, we each enjoyed our selection. For dessert, we shared the sampler which was a small portion of the crema catalan, flan, an ice cream and a beggar's purse filled with some type of deliciousness. Oh, and they gave us almond cookies which, I think, is standard at this place. We really enjoyed our tapas lunch here. The food was good and the service was attentive and not rushed (but not too slow either). I look forward to my third visit to Solera.
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 3 reviews
    Manhattan, NY
    I don't understand the good reviews here at all.  The ambiance here is very poor - the lighting is way too much for those who prefer candlelit romantic dinners.  The tapas menu is limited and we did not find them tasty at all.  The only food we liked was the veggie paella.

    The service here was really slow towards us and not that friendly.  Worse, we used Savored to get a 20% discount but the restaurant added an automatic 18% gratuity - and we were only 2 people!

    There are so many better choices in Manhattan for the money.  AVOID.
  • Review from

    • 42 friends
    • 753 reviews
    Queens, NY
    7/29/2013 2 check-ins here
    Great selection of tapas and Spanish wine. Very relaxing atmosphere, worth trying.
  • Review from

    • 1 friend
    • 181 reviews
    New York, NY
    This was probably the worst tapas I have ever had.  The place was empty, which is never a good sign. The waiter did not speak English well and at one point we had to ask him to send someone else over. Tried several things and not one was particularly good. The duck risotto was awful, the meatballs were OK, and the endive salad was disappointing. The tapas menu is very limited if you aren't a fish eater. I would definitely not go back to this place.
  • Review from

    Manhattan, NY
    11/14/2012 1 check-in here
    Average spot for Spanish cuisine in the city. Service is pretty spotty and amateur and they overcharged us on the bill for our desserts, but food is not bad. To start we had the croquetas, the patatas bravas and the stuffed figs with goat cheese and prosciutto. The figs were my favorite and I would recommend these for sure. I loved the sweetness of the fig mixed with the rich and creaminess of the goat cheese and prosciutto. The croquetas were filled with ham and cheese and were a bit too mushy for me. The patatas bravas were ok, but could have been salted a bit more and were served with a nice creamy sauce on the side.

    For my entree, I had the seafood paella and it was tasty except for the shrimp which were very overcooked. The portion size was a bit small for the pricetag though, as were many of the other items of the menu.

    We shared a couple of desserts at the end and those were grossly overpriced and were not good at all. Save room for dessert but DO NOT have it here! YUCK.

    They offer a savored 30% off discount, so the prices are ALMOST worth it when you use that, but overall it was a very mediocre experience. Not bad if you are in the area and craving Spanish cuisine, but otherwise I would go somewhere else.
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 1 review
    Mamaroneck, NY
    5/21/2013 3 photos
    This restaurant serves true authentic spanish food. As I walked into this Tapas Bar Restaurant, I felt like I was back in Spain. I had a small tasting menu of a variety of tapas and loved them all! I recommend the fried calamari, croquets, and the boquerones. I later shared a pollo and mariscos paella that was extraordinary. The wait staff was great, very attentive and answered all the questions that I had. Lastly, I can not forget about the sangria, the best I've had in NYC! Solera, you'll definitely see me again. Also I liked their Facebook page and was able to have a visual of what I was about to order, great idea!

    I suggest you like their Facebook page as well -…
    • The best lamb chops I've ever had !
    • Very fresh Tuna Ventresca
    • Pulpo a la Gallega was phenomenal! I totally recommend you …
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 13 reviews
    Arlington, VA
    Seemingly endless pitcher of sangria, check. Start off with olives and bread with a delicious hummus, check. The waitstaff was very nice and gave great recommendations. My favorite tapa was the stuffed peppers, they were absolutely perfect. If I could order again, I'd probably order a couple of those and one of the rice dishes. The atmosphere of this place is really nice, there's not really background music playing, so it's quiet enough to have a nice, calm conversation. Awesome date place.
  • Review from

    Astoria, NY
    The best Sangria! Amazing calamari, the flank steak is splendid, the guacamole was sublime.... I'm not even going to mention the best part of the meal... Call it my gift to those who come here.

    The Bottle of Cava finished it all off perfectly.

    This is not poncey American Spanish food, it's the real deal!

    I can't wait to come back here next week!
  • Review from

    New Brunswick, NJ
    11/23/2012 1 check-in here
    Stopped here while in the area to grab a drink after a meeting. Very nice place with a chill atmosphere.

    Great wine selection from South America and bartenders do a great job of explaining each one.

    This place is great for happy hour if you're in the mood for wine. Awesome spot.
  • Review from

    • 22 friends
    • 127 reviews
    New York, NY
    10/27/2012 Seated via OpenTable
    Good food, good service.
    A pretty decent tapas experience. Nothing extraordinary.
  • Review from

    New York, NY
    3/2/2012 1 check-in here
    I read a review of Solera that said it serves uninspired, amateur, and over priced food.  I am so mad at this person because he took the words right out of my mouth.  He must be a mind reader...or maybe we simply see eye to eye on good food. Those of you who think this place serves some of the best tapas in town are lacking some taste buds or have never had good tapas.

    Stopped in here around 5:30 pm for a glass of wine and some cheese.  The place was empty except for my cousin and I.  I hate that. It was very blah as was the staff.  But alas, the glass of wine was fine and two of the three cheeses served were good.  We also ordered the tortilla espanola which was overcome with onions and not seasoned well and the red peppers stuffed with goat cheese.  Okay, that pepper was amazing, but nothing else was.  And the staff...boy do they need a lesson in acting like they have a personality. Did I mention they were blah??

    I guess when I go to a place that is as mediocre as this, I just want to kick myself because there really are much better places in NYC.
  • Review from

    • 2 friends
    • 13 reviews
    Charlotte, NC
    11/13/2012 Seated via OpenTable
    Popped in here for a late lunch at 2pm.  Had amazing attentive service from everyone there.

    AMAZING sangria, cozy, authentic surroundings and vibe and absolutely delicous very authentic spanish tapas and cuisine.


    - Seafood Paella
    - Calamari
    - Meat and Cheese plate

    Would absolutely check it out again
  • Review from

    Oyster Bay, NY

    Great little place in Midtown for tapas and some real good wine.

    There is a large counter area for those of you who don't want to hit the tables  - but it is not "bar" - some people just don't like to eat at the bar...

    Food was awesome - too many choices and all that were had were very good.  Garlic shrimp will have you burping garlic all night - vampires beware.

    The wines are all Spanish of some sort so some prior knowledge of them would be helpful unless you like to just experiment.  The waiters are good at explaining what is what to help you along.

    Prices are not too overly crazy.
  • Review from

    • 73 friends
    • 339 reviews
    Memphis, TN
    You know, every once in a while, you come across a place that is so special, you know you will simply never forget it. Solera is just that sort of place.  

    A couple of months ago I was in New York for a romantic weekend away with my boyfriend, who is Hispanic. A friend of his suggested he take me to this restaurant for dinner one evening while we were in the city, mentioning that the owner was from Spain, and saying that he has some of the best tapas in town. Now, I love tapas, so I was definitely interested in trying it out. We were not disappointed.

    As soon as we walked in the door and gave our name, we were told that we were expected, and right away the charming and well dressed Spaniard, Rufino Lopez, came out and personally greeted us with an incredibly warm and friendly smile and enthusiastic welcome in both Spanish and English. We had never met this man before, but it was as if he was a long time friend of the family, and he treated us like guests in his home. You don't find hospitality like that in many restaurants today, especially in New York.

    We were shown to our seats, and in a matter of moments, our very attentive server came out with a bottle of Spanish wine that turned out to be incredibly good and one that Rufino himself suggested. I only wish I could remember the name of it, because I would love to have it again. And again. And again!  It was a rioja, smooth and dry and full bodied, exactly how I like it. And it paired perfectly with the first round of tapas brought out soon after.

    We started with Qeusos Empanoles - a delicious sampling of  cheeses from Spain. . It was all sooooooo good!  Next up was the Fried Calamares with ali-oli. Now, I am not a big fan of this dish most of the time, but Solera's version was an exception. The batter was very light, tender and flaky with a slightly spicy flavor, and not at all greasy.  I thoroughly enjoyed it. We also had shrimp in a light garlic sauce, and a meat plate with Chorizo and Serrano ham.  Then we had Paella, and then, well, I started losing track of what all we ate. As soon as we were finished with one thing, they were bringing out the next.

    And of course, the wine kept coming as well. Rufino made sure neither our glasses, nor our stomachs, were empty that night. We left smiling and happy, with great memories and promises to return again. Which we will, and hopefully soon.

    Muchos gracias, Señor López, para una noche muy especial en su restaurante.