The Missus really wanted a change of pace; yes, Et Voila is on about every other week, though mostly for Happy Hour (I need to do an updated post), ditto Tribute Pizza. Our last couple of visits to Tiger Tiger were less than pleasing. I've really been missing all of the great food we had in Spain, so I suggested Bar Bodega in Little Italy.
It's a fairly tiny restaurant and yes, it's in Little Italy, but we've been able to find parking rather easily during Happy Hour times; between 4 and 6pm Sundays to Thursdays.
Service here on all our visits has been cheerful and friendly.
On our two visits we tried a couple of happy hour items and a regular menu item. I really wouldn't call this tapas in the traditional sense; it's basically Cali-tapas.
The Missus's favorite dish; we ordered this twice, were the Albondigas ($10 - Happy Hour).
The first time it came with a baguette, the second time without. The Missus loved the hint of "heat" in this and also the texture, which hinted at having a decent amount of filler. Not a bad thing mind you. I really like the tomato sauce, great acid, slight sweetness....I wish we had bread the second time around.
In addition to being quite photogenic, we enjoyed the rather petite Lamb Barbacoa Tacos ($8).
Decent gameyness, not too salty, good spice, that avocado puree was an excellent foil for the rich meat. We really didn't care for the blue corn tortillas; which were beautiful, but very crumbly and not up to the task of being a vessel for the lamb.
The Roasted Brussel Sprouts ($8 - Happy Hour) were a mixed bag.
We both enjoyed the croutons which added a nice crunch to the dish. The brussel sprouts were a bit over-cooked for the Missus....but that's the case at most places. The brussel sprouts were tossed with what seemed like Caesar Salad dressing with shaved parmesan cheese which added salt to the dish. Still, in spite of the dressing, this could have used something more savory and salty....I use lardons and bacon fat for my brussels.....I think the Missus was looking for that kind of flavor and richness.
The Patatas Bravas ($6 - Happy Hour) were interesting.
These really looked like what I do with my garlic potatoes; boiled first and in this case deep fried. The crunchy-creamy texture was lovely. The sauce was a bit too mild for our taste, not enough garlic, heat, smokiness. Good portion size though. The sauce was also on the side and the potatoes weren't nicely coated with it. Making it more like an aioli for frites.
We were split on the Devilled Eggs ($5 - Happy Hour).
The Chorizo is quite tasty, but this was really salty. And for some reason it tasted like pickled eggs, which I love; but just not for devilled eggs. The Missus loves devilled eggs in almost all shapes and forms, so in spite of being sodium heavy, She still enjoyed this.
On one visit we ordered the Champignons Al Ajillo ($8)
While the mushrooms were nicely prepared, the sauce was really acidic, which pretty much killed any other flavor in the dish. We had to ask for some olive oil to temper the acidity. I'd also have appreciated more garlic flavor.......and not needing to add olive oil.
To be perfectly honest, my favorite part of both meals was the Vermut Blanco......the sweet, floral, tones with a hint of spices took me back to our favorite meals in Seville.
The Missus also enjoyed Her sangria here as well.
A few weeks after these visits, I had to take my car in for servicing. Like I mentioned in my post on Pho Xpress, these days, the visits have to be either on holidays or weekends. On this day, I knew it was going to take a while for my car, so I caught the trolley and eventually ended up in Little Italy. I decided to grab lunch at Bar Bodega.
Because of the season, I was a bit hesitant when ordering the Gazpacho ($8). But it was fairly warm so I thought it would be great item to have with lunch.
Man, this was super thick, thicker than my Salmorejo. It was way too pasty. It was also much too salty and the cheese in this made it even more salty. It definitely needed more cucumber to balance out the flavors. The avocado was a nice touch, but I really didn't care for the texture nor the amount of salt in this dish.
In direct contrast, the pulpo in the Octopus Tacos ($8) could used more salt.
But the texture of the octopus was perfect; it just needed some umph..... At least due to the low amount of moisture in the fillings, the tortillas held together.
So, what to say about Bar Bodega? We loved the service, the Missus enjoys the albondigas. The items seemed a bit hit or miss in terms of seasoning, though other than that gazpacho, the technique and presentation was very nice. We may drop by again one of these days.
1980 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
Open 1130am - 10pm Daily