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Despaña Fine Foods and Tapas Café – Spanish food in Soho

Despana storefront on Broome Street Goods on the shelves at Despana Chorizo at Despana Foods Soho Interior of Despana Foods Cheese at Despana

I’ve said it before, but one of my very favorite aspects of city living is the preponderance of specialty stores for everything you can imagine — entire stores devoted solely to ribbons, or pencils, or in the case of Despaña Fine Foods and Tapas Café in Soho, the authentic flavors of Spain. Our family loves Spanish food, and Despaña is both an inspiring place to shop for a special meal at home and an excellent place to stop for light meal of well-prepared tapas bar favorites. The floor-to-ceiling shelves along the left-hand side of the store are lined with the most gorgeous selection of products, all with such incredibly appealing packaging (I love just browsing and looking at them all!). There are olive oils and vinegars, tins of all sorts of fish, fruit preserves, rices, almond sweets, and more. Along the right-hand side of the store you’ll find the refrigerated cases, filled with Spanish meats and cheeses, some of them certain to be new to even the most savvy gourmand.

Tapas counter at Despana Cafe seating at Despana Meats and cheese at Despana Paella rice at Despana Admiring the jamon at Despana Pimentos at Despana

We were in the neighborhood around the lunch hour not long ago, and finding ourselves with two hungry children, I was happy to remember Despaña only a couple blocks away. When my husband and I first started visiting Despaña years ago, there was only a very small seating area with a high counter and a table, tucked away by the drinks cooler near the rear of the store. At some point in the intervening years a new café portion was added, with tiled walls and long, marble-topped communal tables. It’s now easier than ever to stay for a quick sandwich or a progression of little dishes, with a extensive menu that offers a range of bocadillos (sandwiches), pintxos (little bites served over bread), tapas (small dishes), flautas (small sandwiches), salads and more. We ordered a slice of tortilla queso for my little guy (though in practice we all enjoyed tasting a bite or two!), a bowl of warmed olives, and a large meat and cheese platter to share. When it arrived it was almost too pretty to eat, with three types each of meat and cheese, plus nuts, pickles, olives, and membrillo. With warm bread to dip in one of Despaña’s imported Spanish olive oils and salty Spanish sparkling water it made the most delicious lunch – almost enough to make us feel like we were on a mini holiday. On the way out we passed the legs of jamón in the shopfront window and I remembered seeing that Despaña offers jamón carving classes in the evening – sounds like fun, right?!

Despaña Fine Foods & Tapas Café, 408 Broome Street (between Lafayette and Centre Streets)

Monday-Thursday, 10am-7pm; Friday 10am-9pm; Saturday 11am-9pm; Sunday 11am-6pm

Subway: 6 train to Prince Street or Canal Street, R and W trains to Prince Street or Canal Street, N, Q, J, and Z trains to Canal Street

(And one last note: should it appeal, don’t miss the sister shop next door, devoted to Spanish wines and liquors!)


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