Flatiron Lunch: Boqueria Has $10 Lunchtime Sandwiches!?

Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.

If you haven’t noticed, I am a little bit on a kick looking for sit-down restaurants that unexpectedly have ML budget friendly lunch options. (If you have noticed and don’t like it, I can tell you now that it ends next week!) I think I enjoy the feeling of triumph knowing that I got a great lunch for a fraction of what I would pay to eat there for dinner. My latest find is Boqueria – the well-loved and upscale Spanish Tapas Restaurant with outposts in Flatiron and SoHo. And no, this is not a post about a lunch of two small tapas plates. That would just be too sad.

When I walked up to Boqueria to pick up my order, this clever “JAMÓN IN!” sign welcomed me, so I had to check the other side of the sign to find this gem: “HAM A NICE DAY”. Who doesn’t like being greeted with pork-related salutations? I guess it should be expected from a place that has 4+ jamóns hanging in the front window. (Does anyone know if the signs always say this or do they change? I would be very impressed if they managed to come up with a whole series of these.)

The interior has a very welcoming and effortlessly casual feel. It is chic without trying too hard. While picking up my food, a mouthwatering patter of sliced meats, cheeses, olives, quince, pan con tomate…the full spread…went out to a table (you can see a bit of it in the photo). When I told the guys behind the bar that the platter looked beautiful, they were eager to tell me that it could be prepared to-go. Pretty sure it isn’t in the ML budget, but good to know. For those of you who have had the pleasure of going to the real Boqueria in Barcelona, no need to rub it in. It is bad enough that while preparing this post, gmail, using their evil/brilliant spying technology, posted ads for flights to and hotels in Spain.

On my walk back to the office, I was urged to walk faster by the intoxicating smell of patatas bravas wafting towards me. Since it was so unseasonably warm the day I went, I should have just sat on the bench in front of Boqueria to eat.

The ordered the Bocata de Boquerones and the Bocata Butifarra y Olivada, two of the five sandwiches on their menu that are $10 or under. (Bocata means sandwich.) According to the menu, four of the five options are considered cold sandwiches, but the anchovies come on toasted bread, so that is an in between-er in my book. Also, since they are packaged with hot potatoes (more on that later), both of my sandwiches were hot by the time I ate them. I’m not complaining.

When I was ordering, I was thinking that the sausage and goat cheese sandwich was going to consist of chorizo or something like it. I should know better than to assume that all Spanish Sausage is Chorizo-ish. So first, I was disappointed by seeing that it was more like mortadella. This would have been fine if the sausage had held its own in the sandwich, but it was largely over-powered by the goat cheese. I also didn’t think they included enough spicy olive tapenade. Don’t get me wrong, overall it was a decent sandwich, but I think it could have been better.

The anchovies held up much better to goat cheese. They created a nice balance of flavors with the apple slice adding an interesting texture. I think the apple also helps refresh your palate, otherwise the flavors might be too much. The anchovies were nicely fishy (sorry to those of you that will squirm at the thought). In fact, the anchovy taste stayed with me for a couple hours. Still not complaining.

Okay, now onto those hot potatoes. All sandwiches are served with patatas bravas and a small lightly dressed salad. They were crisp and seasoned, on top of a delicious tomato-y, spicy, red sauce (as they call it “salsa brava”) with a layer allioli (which according to Wikipedia is “the Catalan variant of the garlic sauce Aioli”). Yum. Despite the fact the heat of the patatas wilted my salad greens, they were still a welcome addition to the meal.

The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I love the taste of Spain, even if I can’t be there
  • Amazing ingredients = a tastier lunch
  • Sandwich with a complete meal of potatoes and salad

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I prefer my sandwiches overstuffed
  • They taunt me with the meat and cheese platter that it is out of budget
  • I don’t like mayo on my fried potatoes

Boqueria, 53 West 19th Street btw 5th and 6th Aves, (212) 255-4160


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