401 West 24th Street off Ninth Avenue
$83 for two, with a lot of drinks, with tip
Bar Jamon was the last loud and crowded bar I fell in-love with here in New York City. That was more than five years ago. I’ve been to many good bars since then, but only El Quinto Pino has reminded me that all I need is good wine with some good company to make me completely content and happy. Add a small selection of good tapas in the mix and you’d have to push me out the door to get me home.
The anchovies in olive oil and the warm chickpeas with spinach reminded me of eating in the boqueria in Barcelona. Simple dishes like them don’t need big introductions. I liked the braised pork sandwich better than the breaded cod, but the pig’s ears salad, cold and crunchy, was the one that stood out. The deep-fried pork belly cracklings are dangerously addictive. The uni panini might just be the perfect tiny sandwich, spiked with a little horseradish to surprise your palate.
There are no tables at El Quinto Pino and you’d be lucky to get a spot at the bar before 11pm. People are in a very good mood, though, and the vibe is infectious. Matt, the bartender, always makes me feel special, calling me by name as soon as I situate myself at the bar. I’ve witnessed girls and boys alike giggle when he comes up to them. Once, I sat next to an annoying customer who complained about eating sardines when he expected anchovies, and the manager appeased him with a free dish and a glass of wine. My last three visits have been accompanied by several glasses of Cantabria 2003, and even when it’s most crowded, I’ve never had to wait for my glass to be refilled. At El Quinto Pino, I can have another, and then another.
Update: I know have a case of the Cantabria wine from El Quinto Pino’s wine store, Tinto Fino.