Best Of

Best Spanish Restaurant

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Yes, the croquetas are flaky and fried to perfection; yes, the pitchers of sangría are seemingly bottomless; yes, it is hard to believe the tapa de paella wasn’t flown in directly from Barcelona. Even so, one does not come to Nai Tapas for the food — exquisite though it is — so much as for the ambiance. Tucked away in a dimly lit basement on First Avenue in the East Village, the restaurant transports customers to the winding streets of Spain with live flamenco performances every Thursday and Saturday night. The band encircles a small wooden stage in the middle of the room as traditional dancers twirl and stomp their heels to the rhythm of the guitar, forcing diners to peer up from their steaming plates of albondiguillas estofadas (stewed meatballs in brandy sauce) and chistorra envuelta (spicy Basque chorizo wrapped in fried potato). Lively, cozy, and comfortable, Nai is not just another trendy Manhattan tapas bar, but an authentic Spanish experience. 174 First Avenue, Manhattan 10009, 212-677-1030, naitapas.nyc

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