My boyfriend and I had been discussing our study abroad semesters for so long that we decided we would show our photos to each other, and then visit the cuisine of that country (me Italian, him Spanish).
Last night we headed over to La Rioja on Broadway and 34th Street in Astoria. I pass this place daily but had never ventured inside. As we walked in, I noticed happy hour lasted til 8 Monday – Thursday with $4 glasses of sangria, $12.95 half-pitchers and $5.95 tapas.
We were seated by 7:55 and I liked that when the waiter came over at 7:59, he honored the specials. We ordered a half-pitcher of white sangria, chorizo in red wine, croquettes, and a paella with a mix of seafood and meat ($23.95). I appreciated that the waiter gave us the heads up that the paella would take at least 25 minutes, so I’m glad we got the tapas.
The tapas were delicious – croquettes were a bit on the smaller side from what I saw in Spain (these you could easily pop in your mouth) but were good. The chorizo was in a fabulous red wine sauce with onions and garlic. You couldn’t help but soak the sauce up with the complimentary bread.
When the paella arrived I was really glad we decided to split it. The plate was huge and the two of us couldn’t finish it after eating tapas. There was definitely an equal ratio of each meat or seafood – clams, mussels, octopus, chicken, chorizo, pork, squid. Problem was, I realized halfway through I don’t like clams, mussels and octopus, but that wasn’t the restaurant’s fault. My only complaint with the dish was we were under the impression there was shrimp in the dish but we didn’t get any. Next time, I would order the paella with just the meat and I think I’d be better off.
If you are looking for Spanish food in Astoria, try La Rioja. The happy hour was great and I love that it lasts until 8. And hey, if the boyfriend lived in Spain for a year and liked it, it must be pretty authentic.Â The Basics Name: La Rioja Location: 33-05 Broadway (between 33rd and 34th Street) Who to Bring: Date, Friends, Parents Price: $$$ Paella was $20-$25 with tapas normally $8 Overall: Â 4 stars. Solid Spanish food. Â Â