TAPAteria offers vegan variety of small plates, tasty wines

By Jl Fields jl.fields@gazette.com - Updated: May 24, 2017 at 2:16 pm • Published: May 24, 2017 0
photo - TAPAteria Restaurant “Patatas Bravas” (no aioli) - potatoes, smoked paprika, tomato sauce, served with membrillo aioli Thursday May 18, 2017. Photo by Jeff Kearney.
TAPAteria Restaurant “Patatas Bravas” (no aioli) - potatoes, smoked paprika, tomato sauce, served with membrillo aioli Thursday May 18, 2017. Photo by Jeff Kearney.

As I was plotting my move from New York to Colorado five years ago, I researched Colorado Springs restaurants known to be vegan-friendly. One of the first hits was TAPAteria, then one of the few eateries with the word "vegan" on the menu.

TAPAteria Restaurant
TAPAteria Restaurant “White Bean Hummus” - gigande bean, lemon oil and toast points Thursday May 18, 2017. Photo by Jeff Kearney. 

Today the laminated table cover listing small plates has been upgraded to a printed menu, and the "v" word is no longer there - but the vegan options are. The TAPA in TAPAteria is for tapas, Spanish for appetizers or snacks. Tapas restaurants and bars are great places to nosh on a variety of plates, ordering until full, and to mix and match glasses of wine to the food. Think of it as the theater of fare with several acts - and vegans will want to focus on the first and third acts.

First up: bocados, or bites. Eight of the 10 items are vegan, with something for everyone. Olives, $5.50, and almonds, $2.50, are fast to the table and great to nibble while sipping wine.

But the gazpacho, $3.50, and white bean hummus, $5.95, are the flavorful standouts. The chilled soup is served in a dainty cup perfect for sipping. The blended fresh vegetables and fruits offer a citrusy fragrance. The broth combines beautifully with the far heartier and dense white bean hummus.

TAPAteria Restaurant
TAPAteria Restaurant “Mushroom Toast” - cremini duxell, toast points/ and truffle salt Thursday May 18, 2017. Photo by Jeff Kearney. 

The citrus - likely lemon juice - ties the soup and bean dip together, but the generous garlic pureed with gigande beans deepens the earthy flavor. Served with toast points and large cucumber slices, one order is plenty for lunch for one. Amp up flavor by ordering the garlic bulb, $5.25, and adding the cloves to the tiny sandwiches.

Leap over the seafood to the menu's verduras, or vegetables, section, where umami - the fifth flavor, savory - rounds out rich, plant-based bites. The mushroom toast, $4.50, is meaty, earthy and not at all for those on the fungi fence. The finely chopped mushrooms deliver a texture that borders meatless crumbles and chopped pate.

Team the toast with patatas bravas, spicy potatoes, for $4.95 - hold the nonvegan aioli - for a peppery balance to the mushrooms.

TAPAteria Restaurant
TAPAteria Restaurant “Gazpacho Shooter Del Dia” - chilled soup Thursday May 18, 2017. Photo by Jeff Kearney. 

The savory cremini garlic mushrooms, $4.95, are filled with roasted garlic and lightly seasoned with truffle salt, a tasty mushroom alternative.

Most tapas restaurants offer a wine list as varied as the plates, and TAPAteria is no exception. Almost all whites and reds are available by the glass for $7.50 to $12 or by the bottle, $26 to $44. Reserve bottles range from $35 to $50. For a notable occasion, check out the special reserves, $65 to $220.

The fruity overtones of the $9 white Calcada Vinho Verde offset the depth of flavor in the umami-rich plant-based fare.

TAPAteria Restaurant
TAPAteria Restaurant “Garlic Mushrooms” - cremini mushroom, roasted garlic and truffle salt Thursday May 18, 2017. Photo by Jeff Kearney. 

TAPAteria is a cozy Old Colorado City treasure where savory small plates and flowing wine are served for lunch, happy hour or dinner. Be sure to check out the patio for a leisurely al fresco nosh.

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