The worst thing about Socarrat, says KC1, is that you have to stint on excellent tapas to save room for even better paella. And paella is the main event at this month-old place from the owner of hound hangout La Nacional.
The signature Paella Socarrat is the best in town, declares RCC: “The rice had excellent texture, with perfect chewiness, not mushy, not watery, and quite on the al dente side, with each grain offering layers of flavor brought on by the prawns, mussels, cuttlefish, chicken, and clams.” metfan630 endorses paella de pescado (with shrimp, cuttlefish, mussels, clams, and fish)—flavorful, filling, and first-rate even to a tough-grading Spaniard friend. Arroz negro (with shrimp, cuttlefish, fish) is toothsome and gorgeous, says MMRuth, who delights in the contrast of pink shrimp and green favas against rice blackened by squid ink. But she adds that at this price—$21 per person—many hounds would expect more seafood.
As for that namesake socarrat, the much-prized crust that forms on the bottom of a paella pan, RCC says it’s “like icing on a cake,” while Renguin finds it quite good around the edges, though “the vast surface on the bottom of the pan remained un-socarrado.”
Among the tapas, KCI loves the fried artichokes: light, crispy, and reminiscent of how they’re done in Barcelona. Also recommended: chorizo, jamón ibérico, and grilled squid served with a killer garlicky dressing “that you’d almost want to scoop up with a spoon,” RCC suggests.
Socarrat Paella Bar [Chelsea]
259 W. 19th Street (between Seventh and Eighth avenues), Manhattan