… Tapas Picasso! Read the Union Tribune review for location information only. The review was written in 2001 and I don’t think they’ve updated it at all. The reader reviews, though, give it high praise. We used to go quite often with friends, to the point where we had ordering down to a system. First, order a pitcher of sangria (after designating your driver). Then, everyone picks 2 dishes. Always order the baked garlic and deep fried spicy sausage.
T wanted to go to Hamilton’s Saturday night as a birthday night out, but we needed somewhere to go for dinner first. Somehow we landed on tapas and we all reminisced about how much we love tapas and how it had been so long since we last enjoyed it. So, dinner plans were set. I made reservations a couple days ahead of time and it was the most enjoyable reservation experience ever (the owner even recommended we plan for half an hour earlier than I requested so we could make the end of happy hour). I highly recommend reservations as the dining space is pretty small and if there are even 2 large parties, you may have a hard time just walking in and getting a table.
All 5 of us carpooled into Hillcrest in one car, so the Anthony’s parked while we went in to secure our table. I wasn’t worried they’d give it away if we were only 5 minutes late, but when you’re looking forward to something so much, you leave nothing to chance. We explained that we still had 2 people joining us, as they were parking the car, so we’d start with sangria and look over the tapas list. Our server said, “No problem”, brought us drinks right away, and kept us happy all night long (seriously, he kept topping off the sangria glasses regularly). While we were waiting, we made a list of dishes (sausage and fried potatoes both on the happy hour list!) that equated to just 1 less than 2 dishes per person. Of course, we made up for that since we ordered a second fried sausage dish. The happy hour tapas are $5 and the dishes are ones that are usually in the $7-8 range on the regular menu. But, you also get $1 off all other tapas dishes, so it’s a pretty good deal. Oh, and happy hour is until 7 pm every night of the week. We basically got all our favorites: baked garlic, fried potatoes with aioli, deep fried spicy sausage, chicken in sherry sauce, potato omelet (with chorizo), scallops with cured ham, NY steak in garlic sauce, shrimp in almond sauce, and a fish mousse pate. All good. Some dishes come with a side of paella rice (good, but Cafe Sevillahas better paella itself, though not better sangria and tapas) and you can request as many bread refills and sides of aioli as you think you need. The bread is critical for sopping up yummy sauces. The dishes come out about 2 at a time, until you realize that you’re at the end of your order and no more will be coming out. Fortunately, this point usually comes when you’re also starting to realize that you’re kind of full.
We always leave Tapas Picasso very full, a little tipsy (watch that sangria!), but not too poor. The best part about dining in groups is that you just split the bill evenly. Everyone eats a little of everything, so there should be no quibbling over costs.
I’m sure we’ve been there at some point where the service was a little slow. You probably shouldn’t go if you have a schedule to meet or a show to make afterwards. But with enough sangria, bread, and garlicky sauce (oh, and friends), you shouldn’t even notice if this happens to you. On this last visit, I don’t think we were ever left with nothing to eat on our table. On more than one occasion, we were forcing people to take the last sausage/potato/mushroom/garlic so we could clear the table and make room for upcoming dishes (the tables are a little small). Our server was very nice and helpful and if we made a request while he was busy he let us know he’d take care of us but that it might take him a few minutes.
We also ordered the rosemary creme brulee for dessert. It was well-infused with rosemary, but the custard was a little too eggy and not creamy enough for my tastes. Still, we scraped the dish clean. In the future, though, I recommend seeking dessert somewhere else. It used to be a given that we would go to Extraordinary Desserts after Tapas Picasso. It certainly makes for a lovely night out with friends.
So, that was only the beginning of the weekend. There’s still a complete day of eating ahead!