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Taberna Arros y Vi Has Pretty Good Tapas, Weird Seating

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Photo by <a href="http://www.elizabethdanielsphotography.com">Elizabeth Daniels</a>
Photo by Elizabeth Daniels
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Michael Cardena's (Lazy Ox Canteen) foray into Santa Monica, in the form of Taberna Arros y Vi, wasn't without its hiccups. After a long delay and pre-launch departure of chef Perfecto Rocher, the casual Spanish concept took over the former Tudor House in Santa Monica last June, lead by chef Verite Mazzola (Ford's Filling Station). Since then, it's been a slow and steady welcome to the neighborhood, which has plenty of restaurants, but not necessarily much in the way of compelling dining. While the critical reception hasn't quite been there, the word might be a little different on the street. Here now, a rundown the Yelpage, Chowhound talk, and blogger love.

The Rabbit Leg Paella News: "You're one billion percent going to want to order a paella -- they've got multiple options, including this bad boy that's chock-full of seafood, as well as one topped w/ rabbit leg, lima beans, and bomba rice, or what a very Italian offensive coordinator used to instruct Joe Montana to throw on third and long." [Thrillist]

The Tough Shrimp News: "The fideua negro ($23) is a disaster with different elements of the squid ink pasta cooked at varying degrees of doneness and flavor: The noodles are overcooked and combined with chunks of nearly raw garlic and a medley of bland and, what tastes like tough, frozen whole shrimp and pieces of calamari." [Timeout]

The Obligatory Sangria News: "They have sangria, too. Dodging the cheesy, anglicized fruit filled pitcher of cheap wine and sugar, Taberna's sangria comes in waved glasses that are experimental riffs on the wine based formula. There's the golden Honey Grapefruit Sangria that tastes of nectar and melon atop of an effervescent grapefruit and prosecco mix. There's the Beer Sangria that is a crazy mixture of pear and orange juice with Estrella Damm beer. The Burgundy Sangria is the most traditional with its big, red wine character serving as a base to riff off strawberry and citrus flavors." [LA I'm Yours]

The Uncomfortable Chairs (But Tasty Mussels) News: "First, the room itself, formerly the Tudor House, has been transformed into an energy filled bar and restaurant with flamenco music cranking and décor that is at times whimsical (copper bar, antlers chandeliers) and perhaps at others a bit gauche (don't love the lounge-y couches substituting for chairs in the dining room and some of the art is questionable). Some areas are overly bright (ahem, where The Monster is seated) while others are darker and more intimate. Also, did anyone sit in the chairs before they were purchased? Because they are weirdly low and not terribly comfortable...While the mussels are also a fine dish with a wonderful broth (about three loaves of bread perish in its honor), the appearance of some form of meat in the dish (not listed on the menu) is a bit bothersome." [Feed the Monster]

The Obligatory Paella News: "It was tasty, the rice was just right, and the portion was about the size of a personal pan sized pizza. There was socarrat crust on the bottom, and there would have been more had we not ordered it as the kitchen was widing down!" [Chowhound]

The Word From KevinEats: "Asparagus was quite good, the spears' crisp, trademark bitterness enhanced with char savor and the added depth of the dried tuna. Romesco, meanwhile, was a fitting complement, its piquant zing a keen counterpoint to the vegetable...I'm glad that Taberna--a long time in the making--was finally able to come to fruition. It's a welcomed addition to an area that could really use some more quality restaurants. The Spanish-focused cooking represents a nice change of pace, and the plates generally satisfied, though a bit of tweaking for some of the dishes would definitely elevate the experience." [KevinEats]

The Flan and Good Service News: "Flan was smooth and creamy but also firm which I actually prefer to the pudding like texture that you see at some places. I would love to put some dulce de leche on that. Service was great. The manager stopped by multiple times to check on us and even took our food order. Our waitress like I said before was also fantastic. Overall: super solid meal, will definitely come back again soon!" [Yelp]

The Clunky Operation News: "There's one culinary area in which L.A. falls short, and that's Spanish food. The latest attempt to right this wrong comes from restaurateur Michael Cardenas...We'd love to report that Arròs y Vi has upped L.A.'s Iberian cred, but the often clunky operation never quite evokes the romance of Spain." [LA Mag]

The Fried Snack News: "Snacks like the fried tiny smelt with spicy aioli for dipping, and crispy spiced potato skins, which are really more like chips, were pretty fantastic. The small pans of paella had nice flavor and a decent socarrat on the bottom. The fideau negro was full of tender octopus rings and plump shrimp. There were chocolate-stuffed figs covered in chocolate and a delicious flan for dessert. Everything could have just a little more or less something, but Mazzola, who previously worked at Ford's Filling Station, is off to a good start." [Zagat]

The Personal Size Paella News: "I had the seafood paella at Taberna Arros y Vi and wasn't impressed by it. It was good, but the rice was a little too... al dente for my personal taste (I'm not a paella expert so I don't know if that's proper preparation or not). And because it's more of a personal size entree, it seemed to lack the feeling of "abundance" in the amount of seafood that I've gotten at places where the paella serves 2-3. I know logically that makes sense that a paella for 1 would not be as "bountiful", but it was a feeling I couldn't shake. Like there was two mussels and two crab leg segments and some shrimp and that was it." [Chowhound]
·All Taberna Arros y Vi Coverage [~ELA~]
·All Good News/Bad News Coverage [~ELA~]

Taberna Arros y Vi

1403 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401 310-393-3663

Taberna Arros y Vi

1403 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90401