During a stroll through the streets of Spain, it’s common to hear locals say, “Vamos a tapear!” It loosely means: “Let’s go have tapas!” The phrase could catch on in West Palm Beach as more and more locals discover Tapeo Tapas Bar and Restaurant’s whereabouts.
The new spot on Clematis Street is serving up delicious tapas true to the hometown of restaurateur and owner Juan Carlos Mendez who grew up in Galicia, Spain.
“At the end of the day, it’s about tapas,” he says. Mendez, who spent decades in the restaurant business in New Jersey before moving to South Florida, is not interested in delving into over-the-top Spanish cuisine. He’d rather serve up old-style dishes, some with a modern flair. And he wants his guests to eat well. “I want people to come and be able to try 20 different foods.” After all, that’s the art of tapas—ordering a combination of plates to share with one another.
Tapeo’s extensive menu features an array of 31 tapas, in addition to classic plates.
Begin your tour of Spain with the homemade empanadas, which Mendez serves up nearly 400 of a week. Try the Tortilla Espanola (a Spanish potato omelet with onions), Pulpo a la Gallega (broiled octopus with potatoes and rock salt) and stuffed scallops with shrimp and crab meat topped with melted cheese.
Tapeo offers four different types of paellas; the Negra being one of the most popular. It’s given the name because black squid ink is tossed together with shrimp, crab meat, salmon, clams, calamari and mussels over Valencia rice.
You’ll also find dishes like grilled skirt steak, stuffed chicken breast with Spanish chorizo and a roasted rack of lamb.
Aside from creating the cuisine, Tapeo’s chef Joaquin Cunha also whips ups delicious desserts. Don’t leave without trying his crème brûlée, which locals have claimed to be the best in West Palm Beach.
Dinner and a Show
Sit at a table draped in a white tablecloth for a quaint dinner upstairs, or grab a spot on the main floor (Mendez likes to call it a Spanish tavern) where murals of bulls and dancers in colorful costumes line the walls.
The decor comes to life on weekends when brunch is paired with live performances by flamenco dancers and Spanish singers and guitarists.
Tapeo Tapas Bar and Restaurant, 118 S. Clematis St., West Palm Beach / 561.514.0811 / tapeotapas.com