Despana Makes Me Wish I Had More Than One Stomach

Anyone working the Soho area is probably aware of Despana, the Spanish food shop on the edge of Chinatown/Little Italy. Those of us downtown are sadly out of luck unless you have time for a subway lunch, which I found is totally doable from the Financial District if you have a full hour on your hands. It’s not exactly a cheap lunch option, but you can get out of there for less than $10 if you are a light eater, or you can go a little overboard. Lunch options include mostly sandwiches and tapas with some desserts to choose from to. If you really wanted to you could get one of the tapas and a dessert and come out at around $10 for a light lunch. I went the sandwich route and was not disappointed. Find out what I chose to put in between two pieces of bread after the jump.

You have to walk to the back past a cheese and meat counter to get to where you order the sandwiches and tapas. To the left are all kinds of items imported from Spain for you to drool over as you wait for your food. There are about 17 sandwiches to choose, and I had a horrible time deciding which one to order because they pretty much all sounded amazing.

To pass the time you can also snack on the samples of cheese, spreads and olives they have sitting out. I fashioned myself some “dessert” from bread smeared with kiwi jam, which was delicious and made the sandwich prices seem less high.

For my actual lunch I wanted something involving chorizo because that stuff is delicious in all its forms.

I spotted the Mallorquin ($8.50) and got that mostly because it involved something called chorizo spread, with honey drizzled over it. I can get behind any sort of meat spread. It looked like it was filled with tomato sauce, but nope, it’s pretty much just ground up meat with oil and the honey. Well, it could have used some peppers or something, but it was still really tasty…and greasy. If you get this sandwich, or probably anything involving chorizo, be warned that it will drip bright orange grease on  you at some point. Thankfully they supply you with absorbent napkins.

While this provided a somewhat filling lunch, there are other sandwich options with probably more fillings. Or you could get two wedges of tortilla ($4.25 each). Most of the other tapas were $6 or $7 each, therefore making it difficult to get anything else and still leave without being poor. Really, if you add a drink to your meal you’re still going over the Midtown Lunch price guidelines, but hey, it’s Spanish soda!

Despana may also have one of the most expensive sandwiches in the city that’s not a hamburger lurking on its menu. That would be the $25 Iberico ham sandwich. I’m sure it’s some tasty ham, but uh…no.

One option if you’re bent on getting one of the tapas is to also get some of the same bread they serve the sandwiches on and fashion yourself a sandwich or just eat it on the side. I’m glad I went out of my way to eat lunch at Despana, but I only wish I had more than one stomach, or lunch hour.

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

  • They have somewhat reasonably-priced Spanish sandwiches.
  • Free samples mean you can munch while you wait for your food.
  • I like that I can get tapas and other Spanish fare without going to a sit-down restaurant.
  • I like to go and just stare at the coolers full of chorizo and giant pieces of ham until they kick me out.

THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • It’s hard to get out of there for under $10 unless you’re a light eater.
  • The sandwiches aren’t ideal for hearty eaters.
  • I don’t like getting bright orange chorizo grease all over myself.

Despana, 408 Broome St. (btw. Lafayette & Centre),(212) 219-5050


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