Sangria Wine and Tapas Bar has a mission: mi casa es su casa.
Owners Colleen and Robert Mann recently set out to create a space where people can relax and feel at home, much like the tapas party many years ago where they met and fell in love. Managed by sommelier Pablo Antineo, with flavorful cooking from Chef Daniel Pullido, Sangria has a clear focus on all things Spanish.
The atmosphere encourages you to slow down. Spanish music plays on both the front and back patios, both of which are beautifully inviting, with cast-iron tables, big orange umbrellas and bright, colorful plants and flowers in every direction. Even the bathroom is immaculate.
The wine list ranges from local to international, with a strong slant toward Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Chile. As for the actual sangria, it’s made from Pinot Noir and comes dotted with strawberries, boasting an inner world of contrasting fruits with an icy, refreshing edge for any hot summer day.
Those who love Spanish food might have paella on the top of their list. Sangria offers the beloved dish every weekend, with a well-balanced array of ingredients like shrimp, chorizo and sugar snap peas. A hint of spiciness from bell peppers adds depth to the nutty shrimp flavor that dominates throughout. It’s a flavor made all the more pleasant by acidic tomato undertones. But for the uninitiated, take note: you may think your arborio is significantly overcooked. In fact, paella is intended to deliver a certain crispness – a beloved texture known as socarrat.
It’s clear that the small team has gone to big lengths to make a menu that is both delicious and interesting. The tortilla de patatas is not the Mexican wrap one might imagine, but instead a pie slice of egg and potatoes served alongside a few baguette slices rubbed with fresh tomatoes. Onions jump out immediately, lending a little kick to each starchy, comforting bite.
The beef empanada comes wrapped in baked pastry, served with a very garlicky chimichurri sauce. With meat complemented by onions, olives and a blend of spices, each taste is a fascinating journey.
A sweeter voyage takes place while munching on dates wrapped in serrano ham and stuffed with manchego. Balsamic reduction on top adds depth to the candy-like fruit, which may be too much were it not for the aromatic, salty meat and refined cheese. Then there’s the Chistopan-Basque sausage served on a crusty baguette. Roasted green pepper lends toasty warmth, while the chimichurri makes another flavorful appearance.
Sangria offers specials too, some so good that customers have requested them to be permanent on the menu. Such is the case with their prosciutto flatbread, a yeasty pie topped with plenty of queso fresco and cheddar, fresh tomato, pesto, piquillo sauce, greens and shallots. And, of course, prosciutto. With cheese and charcuterie boards and plenty to drink, the place feels like su casa pretty quickly. Upon leaving, you do feel like your taste buds may have just visited faraway lands, yet not without a sense of comfort that home was there all along.
SANGRIA WINE AND TAPAS BAR 5 Del Fino Place, Carmel Valley. Wed-Thu 3-9:30pm, Fri 3-10pm, Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-8pm. 298-7281, sangriawinetapasbar.com