Bodega is a Spanish tapas restaurant in the heart of Georgetown on M Street. The restaurant knows how to draw crowds with its large paellas, tasty tapas and pitchers of sangria. The decor is of the various dining rooms is pretty noteworthy too. The main room, by the entrance, is covered in red and black curlicue wallpaper.
Behind that is a room for large parties; the main wall is decorated with black and white photographs of bulls and chandeliers hang from the ceiling.
The very last room has a second bar (the first being at the front of the restaurant), behind which hang decorative bulls’ heads. The vibe is very cool. There is also a small, outdoor eating courtyard.
Our plan of attack for the meal was to order a few tapas and a paella. The waiter warned us that the paella would take a while to prepare, so kept ourselves busy with three tapas. I want to note that bread is served with dipping oil when you are seated.
The Ensalada de Peras y Nueces ($8.95) is a salad topped with pears, walnuts and goat cheese and dressed in a honey vinaigrette. This salad blew my mind and my taste buds. I loved the crunchiness and sweetness of the pears with the neutral flavor of the goat cheese. The dressing was probably my favorite part. It was like a more sophisticated honey mustard that left me licking the plate clean.
Next came the Arroz Meloso de Txipiron en su Tinta y Calamares Salteadas ($9.95), sauteed calamari served on a bed of rice colored by creamy ink squid sauce. The calamari was chewy. I was a bit skeptical about the squid ink in the rice, but it didn’t really affect the flavor. It was a unique dish.
The final tapa before our paella was the Tortilla de Patata con Chorizo y Jamon Serrano ($7.95), Spanish tortilla with chorizo, topped with jamon (a.k.a. ham). Unfortunately, this meal began great and then got worse with each course. This dish was really nothing special compared to the other two courses. It tastes like a potatoey quiche with bacon.
The grand finale of the meal was the Paella de Pollo y Chorizo ($35.95), chicken and chorizo paella. Bodega claims that its paellas serve 2-3 people. However, with all of the tapas preceding the paella, my boyfriend and I could barely make a dent in this massive rice dish. The paella overall was very garlicky and the chorizo was especially salty. I wish the tapas had come out at the same time as the paella, because the singular salty flavor was overwhelming to eat without some kind of veggie or side dish. Thankfully, the paella was even more delicious as microwaved leftovers.
I went back to Bodega more recently (this first visit I’m writing about was a while back). This time I ordered the same salad as above, which was not quite as impressive as I remembered it. I also got the Calamares Fritos con Ali-Oli ($8.95), which were fried calamari with aioli sauce. They were crispy, but not crunchy and were quite good. This time I tried a new paella, the Paella Valenciana ($38.95), paella with chicken, duck, fava beans and peppers. I was much more impressed by this paella than the chorizo one. It had more flavors and felt like it could have been an entree rather than a side dish, which the chorizo paella felt like because of the monotony of its flavor.
Overall, I enjoyed my two visits to Bodega. Some dishes are better than others, which is why I recommend going in a group and sharing a bunch of tapas and a paella or two to discover what’s good and what isn’t (although I’ve told you which dishes I thought were tasty). I do have two complaints about Bodega. First, the restaurant got pretty loud the first time I was there. I’m 20 years old, so I can tolerate noise, but it was difficult to talk because some other guests were rowdy. The second time I went, however, it was a weekday and there was hardly anyone at the restaurant. My second complaint is that Bodega charges for a slice of birthday cake! First, I’ve never been anywhere that’s done that. Second, the cakes were added to the receipt AFTER those who had cash had paid, leaving those paying with cards to pay the surprise cake fee. It was a strange situation. So be warned, if it’s your birthday, you’ll get a slice of chocolate cake and will be charged for it. I recommend just looking at the dessert menu so you can at least choose what you’re paying for.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
3116 M St NW (Georgetown)
Washington, DC 20007