Piquillo peppers, seared to sweeten the flavor and topped with generous sea salt to amp up the divergence of tastes, is one of many inexpensive hot tapa options at Bodega Spanish Tapas & Lounge. Whenever I find myself wanting to experience authentic Spanish cuisine without having to travel far from the Hilltop, I think about heading over to Bodega, nestled conveniently on M Street.
Bodega is a great option for Georgetown students who want to try something new, or even want a late-night meal, at affordable prices ranging from $5 dishes at happy hour to $15 tapas at dinner. This variety of dining options ranging from weekend brunch, happy hour, wine tasting and of course a late-night meal makes me look to Bodega as a dining destination for any time of day and any mood.
Tapas, which are small, appetizer-like dishes, allow for many people in a larger party to order several “small plates” to share as they begin their dining experience. I prefer this method of sharing because it allows for all parties to taste a broad range of dishes — sweet, spicy and everything in between — as they explore the menu. Ordering many of them to share makes for a filling and relatively affordable meal when split among friends.
One of the cold options under $10 is marinated anchovies with Basque pepper, which offers refreshing spice and delicious sauce. Alongside the savory options are sweet ones as well, like their toast with goat cheese and honey, which combines a sharper cheese flavor with a complimentary sweetness.
The hot options, which are plentiful, include steamed mussels and seared octopus, giving seafood a hearty twist with its strong seasoning and charred flavor. Ranging from $8 to $14, these are great options for students who wish to order a few dishes and split the cost, as tapas are typically less expensive than regular entree prices. With cold, hot, vegetable and meat options, the diversity of the dishes on the menu certainly stands out as Bodega offers a comprehensive experience of varied aspects of Spanish cuisine.
The happy hour menu, though, is the best value for your dollar. The $8 Tortilla Española is a traditional Spanish tortilla cooked with eggs and potatoes, a staple of Spanish cuisine. Bodega cooks it to perfection so that the richness of the potato and flavor of the onion combine to create the perfect savory omelet. Another impressive potato concoction are the croquetas de pollo — crispy chicken croquettes whose creamy filling and crisp exterior provide a tastily complex experience of richness and crunchiness.
It was the datiles con tocino that left the greatest impression among the happy hour selections. The crispy fried dates wrapped in bacon combined the sweetness of the date with the saltiness of the bacon perfectly. As the most popular dishes on the happy hour menu, they certainly lived up to expectations.
The decor in the restaurant is truly distinct and caters to Spanish traditions and culture, with metal bull skulls covering the walls and red and black cushions populating the interior. The exterior of the restaurant continues this stylistic choice, offering a heavy black doorway that juts out incredibly visibly to any passerby.
The restaurant’s size functions in its favor too, as the cozy booths and small seating capacity allow for a quiet and quaint dining experience centered around enjoying the company of your dining companions. The lack of reservations at this smaller tapas bar contributes to this casual, walk-in environment.
Bodega is a charming exploration of Spanish cuisine with a happy hour menu that is large enough for students to try all sorts of plates for all different tastes, while splitting the portions and the price. Given that the restaurant is also a lounge, it is ideal for a relaxing group hangout. With its proximity and taste, Bodega is ideal for an evening out that will leave you satisfied without breaking the bank.