Category: Spanish

Sole Spanish Grill (Dinner) »

The Basics

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Cuisine: Spanish + Tapas
Ambiance: Intimate
Address: 1608 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203
Neighborhood: Dilworth
Phone: 704.544.7918
Web Site: http://www.solespanishgrille.com/main.htm
Must Taste (Dinner):

  • Tapas: Gambas Picantes – Shrimp in a spicy tomato broth. This is no longer on the tapas menu, but they can make it upon special request. I highly recommend it if you like shrimp dishes with a spicy twist. Use the leftover sauce as a dip for your bread.
  • Tapas: Patatas Bravas – $6 – from the menu: “fried potatoes with a mildly spicy alioli sauce.” The sauce was quite creamy (possibly mayonnaise-based) so it’s a little rich, but full of flavor. I love it.
  • Drink: Pitcher of Sangria – though the sangria is a bit on the expensive side when sold by the pitcher, the pitcher contains quite a bit of sangria and no ice or fruit. The fruit is served in a cup with ice which you can fill with the yummy sangria of the restaurant – the flavor is awesome. Should you choose the pitcher, be prepared to drink up! Perhaps I’m a lightweight, but my friend and I struggled just a bit to finish the pitcher between the 2 of us.
  • Dessert: Tres Leches – one of my fave Charlotte desserts. This dessert is deceptively simple in flavors with a milky, almost vanilla-like taste (vanilla as in simple…the cake doesn’t take much like vanilla to me). The first time I had this, I thought the first bites were pretty plain, but if you’re not careful, you’ll unwittingly fall in love with the dessert like I did. Luckily, the other restaurants (Miro, Zen Asian Fusion) under the same owners serve this dessert, too.

Pricing Samples (Dinner):

  • Tapas: $3 – $9
  • Dinner: $11-$22

Best For: Romantic Date, Group Outing (with friends or co-workers)
What to Wear: nice casual (not tennis shoes) to dressy
Fave Points: Cozy patio and the fact that I always have a hard time picking between tapas and full entrees when I go here – too many good options
My Fave Dish: This is a tough choice between the Gambas Picantes and the Tres Leches dessert, but I’m going to have to go Gambas Picantes because it’s the first thing I think of every time I go to Sole.

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

My friend from San Francisco was visiting for the weekend and I wanted to take her somewhere “chill” with a real local feel for her first dinner with us.

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Hubby and I decided on Sole, one of our local faves, so we took our friend on over in search of Spanish tapas. We really wanted to sit out on the patio to take advantage of the warm April night, but there was a bit of a wait, so we headed over to the bar area for some sangria.

My friend and I split a pitcher of sangria while my husband started on some beer. We were a little surprised to find out that the pitcher was almost $30, but we did get a lot of sangria out of it. Seriously, the pitcher was all sangria, no ice or fruit taking up space – our fruit and ice were served in our glasses when the pitcher was delivered, so you get your bang for your buck if you’re ready to drink a fair amount. If you just want a little sangria, you may want to order by the glass.

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As someone who refuses to put their purse on the floor, I was very thankful for the hooks just under the bar where we could hang our purses while we waited for our patio table.

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Soon enough, our table was ready and we headed out to the patio area to enjoy dinner. I thought patio area was really cute – especially the lighting.

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We started dinner with some hot rolls and butter. I thought the (free) bread was nice because I’ve noticed a lot of places seem to want to charge you for bread these days.

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When it came to picking out tapas, I quickly scanned the menu for my personal favorite: the Gambas Picantes tapas. I was sad to see it wasn’t on the tapas menu any more, but more than happy when the owner told me they could still make it. Phew!

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We also got another of our faves: the Patatas Bravas, which have a slighty-spicy alioli sauce – a bit on the creamy side, but I really like it.

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We also went with an order of the ever classic Empanadas (from the menu: “Traditional Spanish turnovers with beef“), which were very good with that yummy, crunchy outside.

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And, to round things out, we also ordered the Croquetas de Pollo – from the menu: “Chicken croquettes.” The croquettes were pretty good, but I thought they were slightly on the bland side along with the accompanying sauce. This tapas was probably my least favorite of the group but probably because everything else was so amazing. Not to mention, it’s hard to compete when you have a tried and true go-to dish, like me and the Gambas Picantes. Regardless, I’d order these chicken croquettes again.

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Though we didn’t order that many tapas for 3 people, I was, personally, saving room for dessert. When we decided to go to Sole for dinner I had 2 things in mind: 1. that shrimp tapas and 2. the Tres Leches. The Tres Leches cake is one of my favorite desserts in all of Charlotte. I remember the first time I ordered it, I got it because the menu touted that the dessert had won a “Best of” award. I thought the first couple bites were rather simple and wondered what the big deal was. However, as I continued to work my way through the cake, I fell more and more in love with it with each bite. Nowadays, I have a hard time resisting this dessert whenever I see it on the menu at Sole and its sister restaurants – Miro, Zen Asian Fusion. I’ve even actually ordered this cake (and this cake alone) for take out a couple times.

Final Dish

I highly recommend Sole Spanish Grill for a near-future restaurant experience for you. I love the intimate, welcoming environment, their sangria, and their menu. I’ve dined at Sole several times before enjoying both the tapas and the entrees. I always have a hard time choosing between the 2…especially when I’m already trying to save room for dessert. To me, Sole is a great restaurant no matter your occasion – whether you’re on a romantic date or catching up with a friend. Relax into your conversation over a variety of Spanish flavors and check out the patio if the weather is nice.

ARPA Tapas (Dinner) »

The Basics

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Cuisine: Spanish
Ambiance: Modern
Address: 129-100 West Trade, Charlotte, NC 28202
Neighborhood: Uptown
Phone: 704.372.7792
Web Site: http://www.harpersgroup.com/arpaTapas.html
Must Taste (Dinner):

  • Tapas: Roasted Fingerling Potatoes – $4.50 – Great smoky flavor from the chorizo
  • Tapas: Gambas a Ajillo – $9/$16 – simple but delicious – try this if you like garlicky-shrimp
  • Drink: Pitcher of Sangria – delicious sangria – great if you like fruity drinks or wine with a sweet twist
  • Get it while you can: 6 + 6 = $12 – Arpa Doubles the Fun Each Month. Now you can join us for our popular 6+6 events every first Wednesday and third Wednesday of the month. Enjoy 6 amazing tapas paired with 6 wines for just $12. 5:30pm-8:30pm.

Pricing Samples (Dinner):

  • Tapas: $3.50 – $24
  • Flatbreads: $9-$12

Best For: Date, Small Groups (probably large, too, but I’d call to verify)
What to Wear: nice casual (not tennis shoes) to dressy
Fave Points: Huge selection of tapas with authentic Spanish flair. Where else can you order Boquerrones in the Queen City?
My Fave Dish: Roasted Fingerling Potatoes – one might think a potato too simple to pick as a fave, but the combination of gold and purple fingerling potatoes paired with the smoky chorizo flavor and tender texture of the potatoes themselves…heaven!

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

I met up with a friend (who was visiting all the way from NYC) and one of her good girlfriends for a girls’ night out. We hit up Press for a glass or two of wine and then went down the street to ARPA Tapas for some delish Spanish tapas.

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According to their web site, chef Tom Condron’s vision for ARPA is:

To truly dine in Spain is to share several small, intricate courses reflecting the rich diversity of classical and contemporary Spanish cuisine.

The bar should boast a wide variety of Spanish red, white and rosé wines, available by the glass, as well as a selection of Sherries and sangria.

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I ordered a pitcher for our table, which came out in a pretty blue pitcher. The sangria was super good and the pitcher was great for sharing.

We each picked 2 tapas to try and then shared a bit with each other. Here’s what we got:

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Rock Shrimp and Serrano Croquettes – $5.50 – with picked vegetables and saffron aioli. These were quite good but I couldn’t get over how much the saffron aioli sauce looked, to me, like mustard! I did like the flavor and texture of the croquettes, though.

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Crisp Goat Cheese – $7 – with honey drizzle, pepperanata and almond pesto. These came out nice and hot and gooey inside.

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Tortilla de Espanola con Espinaca – $5.50 – This fritatta had a nice soft texture inside and crispy texture on the outside. I wish there would have been more spinach, but it was still quite enjoyable.

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Gambas a Ajillo – $9/$16 – sizzling spicy garlic shrimp – this was one of my favorite tapas of the night. The flavors were so simple yet so tasty! Definitely try this one if you like shrimp and garlic.

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Crispy Skin Duck Breast – $12 – with sweet and sour onions and quince. The flavors of this dish are amazing, but be warned, if you like your steak well done, you should either avoid this entree or ask for it to be prepared to your liking. The center of the meat is quite rare. Another thing to note is that this picture was taken after approximately 2 slices of duck had been claimed. The portion is a little larger than portrayed.

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Roasted Fingerling Potatoes – $4.50 – with chorizo and shallots. How do you take potatoes from simple to divine? Like this. An interesting mixture of golden and purple fingerling potatoes were sliced thin and cooked with shallots and chorizo. I think the use of different potato colors paired with that yummy smoky taste really put this one over the top for me. I highly recommend that you try this if you go to ARPA!

Final Dish

I’d recommend ARPA for either a playful date (sharing food is always more fun, no?) or dinner with friends. Enjoy the patio area if the weather is nice…we did, and I really liked it out there. Don’t let the Spanish menu scare you off…just ask the waiter or waitress what the different dishes are if you are curious about something but don’t speak/read Spanish. If they’re still offering it, I’d try the $6 + $6 = 12 special mentioned above – I love a good tasting-menu-style meal!