It’s never too late to have a Boqueria.
That’s one lesson to draw from the arrival of the nationally renowned tapas chain in the Seaport, 17 years after its first location opened in NYC’s Flatiron District. Since then, the paella-pushing institution founded by Yann de Rochefort has expanded across a number of cities. So, with a stylish new Boqueria landing in Boston, now’s as good a time as any to delve into four key things that local diners can expect to find at the new Seaport hot spot.
1. It looks like a Boqueria, all right.
If you’ve dined at any of the other locations, the preponderance of white oak, rounded surfaces, and backlit wood-and-steel shelving stocked with Spanish pantry essentials won’t be a surprise. But what makes this Boqueria visually distinct are the preserved bones of the Seaport building in which it resides, which includes a substantial timber frame and exposed wooden columns.
And in a historic city where space is a premium, Boqueria has no shortage of room in which to work. The restaurant boasts a 5,300 square foot interior, with 20-foot ceilings and accommodations for 142 guests.
2. And it tastes like a Boqueria, too.
There’s a case to be made that Boqueria put tapas on the map, back in the days when appetizer-and-entrée was still the rule and pan con tomate was considered “exotic.” While everyone and their mother may now know their way around a pan of paella, Boqueria continues to serve a menu of tapas greatest hits. Think crispy, garlic aioli-slathered patatas bravas, tender seared lamb skewers rested on a piece of bread with pickled shallots and salsa verde, or just-charred-enough octopus over a bed of olive oil crushed potatoes.
3. But it’s not without its Boston exclusives.
Chiefly among them, a bar menu that’s served from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 p.m. to midnight on weekends. As the name would imply, it is served at the central bar that anchors the space and includes 18 seats plus seating for another dozen at adjacent booths. Aside from the potables — house vino by the porrón or the restaurant’s signature shishito margarita by the pitcher — it promises housemade sweet-and-spicy potato chips with whipped sheep’s cheese; beef sliders slathered with chorizo-bacon jam, Manchego, and garlic aioli; and pieces of pan con tomate for just $2 a pop.
Similarly, brunch — which might consist of seared hanger steak and eggs with shishito chimichurri or a cinnamon sugar-dusted churro dunked in hot chocolate — can be graced by serves-six sangria towers available only at the Seaport location.
4. “The Boqueria Experience” does not mess around.
While the choose-your-own adventure experience of tapas dining has immense charm, just trying to figure out how many dishes to order and which can be stress inducing. Which may be why Boqueria offers two set menus: “The Classics” and “The Boqueria Experience,” each of which promises to deliver a slew of house-favorites to the table to share, no additional ordering needed.
Just be warned that the results are nothing short of feast-worthy, with potential plates of seafood paella filled to the brim with monkish, mussels, shrimp, clams, and squid hitting the table just moments after you’ve managed to clear the jamón croquettes you’d sworn were the last plate.
If you have decided to go the Boqueria Experience route, just be sure to leave room for the one dish it’s guaranteed to include: a slab of hand-carved, 36-month aged jamón ibérico crowned by a runny fried egg.
And should you manage to complete it all, there’s always churros.