Ever since I got back from Barcelona, I've been on a huge crusade to find tapas on par with the inexpensive, plentiful and delicious dishes I had in Spain. In La Paella in the East Village, I see the ghost of Barcelona, great sangria and really good food (though at slightly higher prices).
The Decor: (9/10)
Really cozy, candle-lit dining room with bunches and bunches of dried roses lining the ceiling.
Pan con tomate (Toasted bread with tomato, olive oil, and garlic $6) - one of my favorite dishes, period. There's just something so distinctly satisfying about a nice piece of grilled bread rubbed down with a lovely mixture of tomatoes and garlic.
Imported Cured Serrano ham ($9) - This doesn't beat the jamon iberico you can only get in Spain (for now) but it's a close second. The platter comes with nicely toasted pieces of bread to complement the ham.
Breaded Asparagus wrapped with smoked salmon - Love, love, love this dish. The smokiness of the salmon and the crunch of the breading were the perfect foil to the tender, perfectly cooked asparagus hiding inside.
Basque Paella: Chorizo, chicken, sausage, red pepper, tomato, langoustine, shrimp, clams, mussels and squid ($19 per person) Amazing - the best paella I've ever found in the city. The rice is perfectly fluffy and not overly moist and the flavors from the abundance of seafood in the pan come out perfectly.
I can't recommend this place highly enough - it's the perfect date spot or hang-out spot for friends. Just grab a pitcher of sangria and feast away to your heart's content.