We almost missed it. Driving down the traffic filled Dixwell avenue, we almost missed the entrance for Ibiza Tapas and Wine Bar, a tapas and wine bar near the border of Hamden and New Haven. If you’re not familiar with the term, “tapas” are a variety of appetizers and snacks in Spanish cuisine. Chefs create tapas with unique ingredients such as baby squid, raisins and olives. They are served hot or cold and designed to stimulate conversation so people can enjoy the ambiance as well as their meals. Spaniards typically frequent tapas bars in the early evening/late afternoon because they do not eat dinner until the hours of 9 to 11 p.m.
If you enter a Google search for “Ibiza Tapas,” you’ll garner multiple results because several restaurants exist in the United States with a similar name. This particular restaurant, however, exists only in Northampton, Massachusetts and Hamden, Connecticut. We visited Ibiza in Northampton and enjoyed our tapas and wine. We decided to visit its sister restaurant in Connecticut and see if it measured up. We almost missed it but, noticed the “I” logo from the window and made a quick U-Turn. With our bellies rumbling and our taste buds tingling, we entered Ibiza.
Note: the photos on our phones came out blurry so we used pictures from their official Facebook page to try and recreate the experience as best as we could.
Ibiza Tapas and Wine Bar in Hamden
Location: 1832 Dixwell Avenue, Hamden, CT
Atmosphere: 9/10-When you enter Ibiza, you’ll likely notice the small size of the building’s interior. Every square inch seems to be covered by tables of all sizes. You’ll also notice that almost every table is full with people enjoying their tapas and wine. This, along with the vibrant red/yellow schema of the interior and the abstract paintings, is likely to intrigue you. During the spring and summer months, crowded tables align the beautiful patio outside.
Service: 9/10-Our hostess held the door open and seated us immediately. We waited a little longer than we expected for our menus but, our waitress brought them out to us and apologized. We understood because it was a busy night. She also brought us an extra tapa plate that we did not order. When we informed her, she corrected this error immediately. When your restaurant is filled to its limit of people, waiters and waitresses are going to make mistakes every once in awhile. Our waitress’s ability to correct it in a quick fashion signifies her quality as a waitress. We also appreciated our quick refills.
Our hats also go off to the chefs for their creative ingenuity. We enjoyed all of our tapas, but remembered the Lubina a la sal (Salt-baked sea bass with tomato, scallions, pinenuts, raisins, potato, carrot comfit, and smoked Spanish paprika oil) and Pollo al Ajillo con Vegetales (Free range chicken sautéed in garlic sauce served with vegetables) the most for their unique culinary design.
Taste: 10/10: We usually place this category last, but it seems like the perfect transition after a paragraph about design. These tapas taste as delicious as they look. Ibiza’s chefs place an emphasis on flavor. We often said “wow” out loud after sinking our teeth into a tapa. The taste made us pay attention to the ingredients and question what made everything so delicious. We enjoyed experiencing flavors that had never mixed on our palettes before.
Price: 3/5-Tapas prices range from $4.75 to $9.95. They come as tradicionales (small tapas) and raciones (larger tapas). Keep in mind that the tradicionales, while beautifully designed, are not particularly filling. The raciones can be filling depending on the size. The idea is for you to order multiple tapas. Depending on your appetite, things can get somewhat pricy. If you’re on a date for two, we recommend you order two tradicionales and two raciones. We also recommend visiting with a group to enjoy company and split the tab.
Making the choice: Ibiza, compared to other tapas bars in Connecticut, is more affordable and more creative. Ibiza continues to reinvent its menu and offer intriguing daily specials. If you visit Barcelona West Hartford, prices rank up to $10.50 for traicionales and $14.50 for raciones. You won’t pay more than $9.95 for any tapas dish at Ibiza.
Selection: 5/5-Ibiza has a creative, diverse selection of tapas and drinks. Check out our top 5 picks for most creative tapas and drinks:
1. Lubina a la sal (Salt-baked sea bass with tomato, scallions, pinenuts, raisins, potato, carrot comfit, and smoked Spanish paprika oil)-$6.75.
2. Pollo al Ajillo con Vegetales (Free range chicken sautéed in garlic sauce served with vegetables)-$9.95.
3. Salmon con Ensalada de Manzanas Verdes (Caramelized Scottish Salmon, green apple, avocado and cucumber salad with extra virgin olive oil and lemon)-$7.75.
4. Moscatel de Valenica-$5.50 per glass.
5. Caves de Cepa-$6.50 per glass.
In a nutshell-36/40-Ibiza Tapas and Wine Bar exists as one of the best (if not best) tapas bars in Connecticut. We recommend you stop by the Hamden location or the one in Northampton for an evening of tapas and wine! We also you recommend you stop by their facebook for the daily specials and other information.
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