Tuesday, March 22, 2011


A return trip to Key West and more restaurant hopping. We ate Cuban (huge platters) at El Siboney (900 Catherine St,  305-296-4184) in its famous no-frills setting (www.elsiboneyrestaurant.com),  Japanese fare at the sleek Ambrosia (1401 Simonton St,  305-293-0304) (www.keywestambrosia.com) and shrimp on a Hog Island deck.

Here's a new place to visit, Santiago's Bodega (207 Petronia Street, Key West  305-296-7691), in the Bahama Village neighborhood. It's a tapas-style restaurant with seating inside and out. For many of us "bodega" means a small deli-like grocery with beer and lottery tickets. Santiago's Bodega is the wine-bar definition of the word. This is a fun and noisy place at dinnertime - for quiet, choose outside seating (or lunch).

A party of six, we sampled a lot of tapas (and red wine). We began with a big spring mix salad before moving on to saganki (flambeed haloumi cheese), seasoned grouper, croquettas, and a mini pizza/tart so tasty we ordered a second, etc.  There are simple tapas - tomato and basil bruschetta, grilled shrimps, chilled asparagus, lamb patties - and complex tapas - yellowfish ceviche with avocado, mango and cilantro, puff pastry with mushrooms and onions, green beans with gruyere and prosciutto. It's basically an hors d'oeuvres party. Order several items, then order more if you are still hungry. At first glance the menu may look expensive but it isn't if you don't overdo the ordering in the beginning. Items arrive serially so you can divvy up a plate and enjoy before the next one shows up. Timing is key and Santiago's Bodega got it exactly right when we were there.

Another plus is the location - blocks away from Duval.


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