Located in Logan Circle, Estadio — the Spanish word for “stadium” — serves up incredible contemporary Spanish cuisine that certainly will have your taste buds dancing a traditional flamenco. Though not within walking distance from campus, this Spanish tapas restaurant is well worth the short taxi trip.
Upon walking into the restaurant, I immediately felt a sense of nostalgia for my trip to Spain a few years ago. The decor utilizes reclaimed 19th-century Spanish tiles and marble, as well as reclaimed timber and wrought iron for three large, communal tables. A terracotta color palette serves as the base, with walls boasting bullfighting and flamenco murals. (For an extra treat, walk into the ladies’ restroom to find Cristiano Ronaldo’s athletic body adorning the sidewall.) The restaurant features a concrete bar as well as a marble countertop overlooking the open kitchen. A private dining room is also available for larger parties. The outstanding aroma and flavors of the cuisine only compliment the restaurant’s lively atmosphere.
Along with proprietor Mark Kuller, who is the owner of highly acclaimed Proof in Penn Quarter, Executive Chef Haidar Karoum traveled extensively throughout Spain to develop Estadio’s menu. Options range from traditional dishes such as tortilla española with a creamy aioli and sweet hot peppers — arguably the best tortilla I have ever had — to more eclectic dishes, such as an open-faced montadito of foie gras mousse, smoked duck breast and caramelized onions layered upon homemade bread. These dishes were only the beginning of a delectable culinary adventure.
On my visit, my dining companion and I started with blistered shishito peppers and a few chorizo pintxos, small spears of chorizo, manchego and pistachio-crusted quince. The creamy taste of the cheese and the sweet-and-spicy chorizo was only made better by the sweet quince paste that perfectly balanced out the saltiness. While we easily could have eaten several more, we decided to save room for the remaining dishes.
The croquetas de jamón were little morsels of soft, flavorful ham with a light, crispy exterior. Served with sweet pickled cucumbers and a creamy, mild roasted red pepper sauce, these made yet another knockout dish. Naturally, we had to get more chorizo, so we followed up with a bowl of roasted baby chorizo with crunchy, homemade potato crisps. From there, we moved on to the traditional salt codfrituras served with greens and a creamy tartar sauce.
By this point, we were extremely satisfied but could not help ordering two desserts. The Moscatel sherry float was a sweet, refreshing finish. Both of us fell in love, however, with a deconstructed and far superior version of a French pain au chocolat. Crispy toasts sat alongside a soft ganache of semisweet chocolate drizzled with fruity olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.
Prices range from $2-$6 for little appetizers and pintxos, $5-$11 for tapas and $12-$16 for small plates. Stick with pintxos and tapas and you will leave very happy for around $20-$30 per person, but I certainly recommend splurging a bit, as you will not be disappointed with anything Estadio has to offer.