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Mini-Review: Si Tapas & Spanish Cuisine in Dallas

Green beans and serrano ham at Si.
Green beans and serrano ham at Si.

D intern Sara Stoltz lived in Spain for three years where she taught English and wrote for an English-language magazine and a national culinary magazine. She got to meet lots of temperamental Spanish chefs (names please, SS) and eat plenty of Spanish food. Here is her first impression of Si Tapas & Spanish Cuisine in Uptown.

After living in Madrid for three years, I thought I’d had my fill of all things tortilla and chorizo. Instead, being back in the states now I find that every Sunday I long to linger over a big chunk of mellow manchego and a nice slice of tortilla or as we say in Dallas, Spanish omelet. Even though I did a lot of cooking in Spain and my tortilla-flipping skills are still in shape, I prefer to go out to eat.

Tortilla with squiggly lines of aioli at Si.
Tortilla with squiggly lines of aioli at Si.

If I lived near Oak Lawn, I’d make Si Tapas & Spanish Cuisine part of my weekly routine. Si is the brainchild of former Hola! owner Ildefonso Jimenez. He took over the charming cottage on Allen Street that was recently vacated by Watel’s. The patio in front could  pass for one of the many terrazas that line Madrid’s tiny streets, except there are no heavy clouds of cigarette smoke in your face at Si. 

I went to Si for a lazy Sunday afternoon lunch. The menu is extensive, with dishes from all over Spain: sausage from Mallorca and Cabrales, a super-strong, acidic blue cheese from Asturias in northern Spain. Our first plates were green beans with Dijon mustard and thinly sliced serrano ham, and a tortilla, which didn’t come as a cake-like slab but as an individual little tart with lines of aioli squirted back and forth across the top. The tortilla was too dry for my tastes, I prefer them runny and with more onion.

Next up was thick slices of morcilla, fried blood sausage, which we found too salty until we added a chunk of manchego and a slice of bread to each bite. And finally, a hearty bowl of fabada Asturiana, a white-bean and sausage soup that is the most comforting thing you can eat on a cold night in Spain, but probably too heavy for the middle of July in Dallas.

The genius of Spanish food lies in its simplicity. Most of the great tapas dishes have no more than a few ingredients. At Si, presentation isn’t over-the-top; it is Spanish—straightforward and matter-of-fact. Si has a great Spanish wine list and nice staff, which is not something you usually find in Spain.

Si is the most authentic Spanish restaurant I’ve tried in Dallas. If there were a few hipsters in tight jeans and outdated American rock band t-shirts hanging around Allen Street, I would feel like I was back on the Iberian peninsula. 2207 Allen St., 214-720-0324.

30 comments on “Mini-Review: Si Tapas & Spanish Cuisine in Dallas

  1. To me (and no few males around these parts) ‘Tapas’ means (rough translation) ‘expensive teeny plates of tini bubble bites=big bill followed by urgent drive through at Jack-in-the-Box after paying baloon payment meter ran over-my-cuppeth bill.’

  2. There is definitely that danger, I think…but the portion sizes at Si are more than generous and I think the key is to order a few at a time and prolong the meal so that you fill up. Plus, a bottle or two of wine always helps. The prices at Si are very reasonable, we had five different tapas plus a bowl of stew plus drinks for under fifty bucks, and we didn’t even finish most of them (two people). Add another person and you can eat very well for about $15 a person. Plus, sharing plates and getting a taste of a lot of stuff is much more fun (in my opinion) than everyone ordering one entree.

  3. “The genius of Spanish food lies in its simplicity.”

    Ever been to the Basque country or Catalunya? Ever heard of “El Bulli”?

    “…fabada Asturiana, a white-bean and sausage soup…”

    Soup? In Cuba, maybe.

    “Si has a great Spanish wine list and nice staff, which is not something you usually find in Spain.”

    How did you last three years, with that kind of point-of-view?

  4. I enjoyed my first trip to Si Tapas overall. No complaints regarding the food, although I was disappointed that two of my favorite tapas from Hola (the piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese and the snails) were missing from the menu. I did have issues with the service. Not attentive or friendly. The biggest issue was that our server almost refused to let us keep a menu after our initial order. We had only ordered a few items to start and then he started taking up our menus. I asked if we could keep one and he said he wasn’t supposed to let me but if I hid it under the table I could keep one. Seriously? Didn’t they want us to order more food? I understand turning tables, but that “policy” undermines the tapas experience in my book. Plus, there were plenty of empty tables at the time and the place started clearing out before our food arrived.

  5. we had great service with a group of about 12, although we didn’t really linger or order more than a couple of times, so we did kinda miss out on that aspect of the long, leisurely brunch/lunch where you can take your time and keep ordering more food. I thought it was pretty reasonable priced and if you get the oxtail stew, you won’t feel like you need to go eat fast food hamburgers afterwards.

  6. Although I haven’t been to Si Tapas as yet, I would like to go in the very near future. I’m very familiar with (genuine) Spanish tapas but, I’m afraid, like most “ethnic” restaurants in Dallas and, in most of the US for that matter, the food will be “dumbed down” for American palates. As are restaurants of other ethnic origins. And, as was at his Hola and, even more so at Ildefonso’s ex-wifes restaurant, Cafe Madrid. I believe she got it in their divorce.
    When Ildefonso first opened the original Cafe Madrid years ago with his then wife, His immigrant Spanish parents did all the cooking. And, I remember the food and tapas dishes were just as good as I remembered them in more native locales.
    I’m hoping to get the real thing at Si Tapas but, I don’t have high expectations.

  7. @Kirk
    Yes, I have heard of both of those, however, El Bulli isn’t what i would call typical Spanish cuisine. Most neighborhood bars don’t serve 30-course tasting menus, or use nitrous oxide. So I’m going to go ahead and stand by my statement that Spanish food is, by nature, pretty simplistic. Most bars feature the same standbys, and most of those are only a few ingredients at most. And it wasn’t an insult to Spanish food, it’s one of the reasons I find it so appealing.

    As for the fabada, yes, it’s described as a soup or stew, even on the menu at Si. It’s a bit heartier than that, and not like chicken noodle soup here, but that’s pretty much the genre it falls under.

    As for the staff, well, one of the downfalls of living abroad was the lack of customer service I experienced. Compared to our standards, waiters at typical bars and restaurants (which I frequented, as I was on a journalist’s budget) weren’t very attentive and very often rude. Part of the culture, since they weren’t working for tips as they do here. No matter, it didn’t make the food taste any worse, and sometimes I had very nice servers. As for the wine list, that wasn’t included in the statement with the servers. That’s why I said “is not something” not “are not something.”

  8. Sara, what on earth are you talking about?

    You didn’t say that “the genius of Spanish bar food lies in its simplicity.” You said “the genius of Spanish food.” Even now, you “stand by [your] statement that Spanish food is, by nature, pretty simplistic.” Why? Because some of the cheap bars you ate at served simple food?

    Tell me this. How many of Spain’s 130+ Michelin-starred restaurants serve bar food? How many of them serve menus that would be considered “simplistic” (in comparison to Michelin-starred restaurants in France, England, Italy, or the US)?

  9. Woah. Who knew people were so passionate about the complexity of Spanish food?

    Again, since I was reviewing a tapas place, and typical Spanish food (what people eat daily, what is served in the majority of the restaurants) is simple in terms of ingredients and preparation, then yes…I still think that the best part of Spanish food is its simplicity. I don’t fall on the side that thinks the technological approach taken by Adria and Dacosta and Roca is genius; I think it’s gimmicky. Give me a good piece of tortilla any day. So yes…I think the genius, when Spanish food is at its best, is when it’s kept simple and the ingredients are allowed to shine.

    And like I said, this was my experience with Spain and its food, which I recognized in the food at Si.

  10. I first ate at Si about a week after they first opened. Having never visited Spain, I certainly can’t say I’m an expert in Spanish cuisine, but my dining companion had and we were both very impressed.

    Si feels very authentic, the food is delicious and the staff was very cordial and accomodating. We were definitely allowed to keep our menu the duration of our meal. My personal favorite was the pitcher of escachare (???)-vodka punch! Very light and perfect for a night on the front patio.

  11. “I don’t fall on the side that thinks the technological approach taken by Adria and Dacosta and Roca is genius; I think it’s gimmicky”

    If the technology is a gimmick please tell us how they would make their food without it?

  12. Sara… While you and your friends were enjoying the cultural experience of simple tapas dishes in the social atmoshphere of reasonably prices spanish tapas bars…Kirk and JJ were sitting by themselves at El Bulli, slouched over a laptop, scanning the intenet for comment sections of blogs where they could demonstrate their intelligence by snarkily bashing people. I enjoyed your mimi-review. As someone who also traveled spain on a shoestring budget…I thought your references rang true, and look forward to visiting Si.

  13. Sara:

    Adriá uses liquid nitrogen. Nitrous oxide is something Nancy might recognize under its street name, “whippets.”

    We agree on at least one thing: mainstream Spanish food is very good, and in most cases the dishes use fewer ingredients than, say, French haute cuisine. If you had said, “In general, Spanish chefs are geniuses at using a few ingredients to make wonderfully flavored dishes,” I would have agreed with your statement 100%.

    Matt: In the many years I lived in Spain, I assure you that I spent plenty of time in bars and restaurants of all types. Glad your trip there provided you with such insights.

  14. I don’t think Sara meant that Spanish cuisine is simplistic, but she wanted her review to sound like other reviews she read so she tossed in words that sound nice, but are without substance. Reckless, throw away words. That’s the problem with some of these reviews, they’d prefer to sound like a good review rather than be one.

    Now go join bonathan over there.

  15. “Several of you are massive douchebags.”

    Now there’s a novel tapas dish. Then we could have “The massive douchebag was too dry for my tastes, I prefer them runny and with more onion”.

    Or…

    “Next up was thick slices of massive douchebag, …, which we found too salty until we added a chunk of manchego”

    And we would finish with “And finally, a hearty bowl of massive douchebag…is the most comforting thing you can eat on a cold night in Spain, but probably too heavy for the middle of July in Dallas”

    5 stars from me on the NN (2009) scale.

  16. Worzel,

    By its nature, I find it highly unlikely that any restaurant or bar or even molecular gastronomic temple could possibly serve a dry douchebag, unless it had been used up and I no of no place that serves used dried up douchebags (except for maybe the Candleroom)…. (see what I did there?)

    Bottom line, there is no need to pick apart every single sentence of a food review, its someone’s opinion about f&%$ing food for God’s sake. Hell, someone with the reading comprehension of a 6 year old could have understood the point of the Intern’s comments. Agree or don’t, discuss or don’t, but most of these comments are condescending and for lack of a better word “douchy”.. Hell, its not like we are discussing puffy vs. puffed tacos here.

    My favorite part though was when Kirk calls out the Intern for her attitude regarding Spanish service, oh the delicious irony there….

  17. Isn’t massive douchebag related to haggis? I think it uses too many ingredients to be a Spanish dish.

  18. i’m not sure if many of you would talk like this to sara’s face. IMHO, we should all use that as a rule of thumb when conversing with other humans via keyboard.

  19. Si sounds just like Hola, which does not give any reason to rush there.

    I can assure you that WG and Kirk know Spanish food far outside of just “3 years in Madrid” and are also adept at ID’ing bags of all types.

  20. jon@TJ’s: I would hope Sara would say we made her day. Imagine the comments if she had posted on Eats:

    Wonderful!
    Ooh, yummy!
    Wonderful!
    Very unique!
    Yummy!

    Etc.

  21. I really liked the food and setting at Si Tapas, but the outside chairs are insanely uncomfortable. I would have stayed longer, had more to eat and drink but my *ss couldn’t take it anymore.

    Great review Sara the Intern.

  22. I visited Si and enjoyed it and will be going back next week. My gripe with the service was a little different – our waitress was a little TOO attentive. I think she asked us about 10 times if we were ready to order. Also, she didn’t speak Spanish – what the…? Is it really that hard to find a spanish-speaking server in Dallas?

  23. I am going to go to “Si” this week based on Sara-the-Intern’s comments; it is refreshing to read an honest and non-hostile, factual view of simple food served in our city. Thank you, Sara.