I tried Imagine Spain today for lunch today and I LOVE this place. Forgive my raving in advance. No, I don’t work there. No, I don’t know the owner. It’s located in the same center as Tapino at 7000 E. Shea, in the space where Radda used to be located next to Eli’s.
I have never been to Spain and do not profess to have an abundance of knowledge about Spanish cuisine, but this is as close as I’ve come to what I perceive as “real” Spanish food to be. It was quiet at lunch, so it was a nice way to try a few different things.
The menu consists of hot and cold tapas, Soups/Salads, SIX different kinds of Paellas, and Meats/Fish. We lunched on the following tapas:
Tortilla Espanola – I’ve had this at Pepin and Sol y Sombra before, and this was in a different league. Great onion flavor, not oily, and light. $3.50 for two large pieces
Chorizo a la Sidra – Spanish sausage in a cider-based sauce. Very large serving of a “dry” type of sausage. Again, not greasy, very flavorful. $6.50
Mejillones Costa Blana – Steamed mussels in a white wine a cream sauce. This is my new favorite mussels preparation, and it’s nice to see a new spin on a traditional preparation. Not one bad mussel in the group (why other restaurants can’t figure this out is beyond me) and the sauce was perfect for dipping. A gigantic portion for $7.00.
Rabas de Calamar – Strips of calamari (the hood, not the tentacles), very lightly fried served with a delicious and very garlicky aioli. (or, “allioli” en espanol!)
The bread is served with allioli and a tomato sauce. I was told that the allioli is made with milk instead of egg. And the coffee is locally roasted by Matador, located in the Scottsdale Airpark. I tried the espresso which was perfect. No hint of bitterness at all.
Lastly, they make their own lemonade and limeade. We tried both. The lemonade was great, but the limeade was FANTASTIC. Not something I would ordinarily order, but it was delicious and very refreshing.
A quick note about the service: The owner, Janet, is hands-on and Marion, our server, was very knowledgeable about the menu. There aren’t many “career waiters” these days, but he was one of them. You could tell that he really loved the food, knew just when to refill our drinks or ask for more, and accommodate our every request. We were impressed.
I can’t wait to try this place for dinner with some Rioja.
Details as follows:
7000 E. Shea Blvd