Grub/Spirits Restaurant Reviews — 02 November 2010
A Restaurant Review: El Quijote

El Quijote
226 West 23rd Street, near 8th Avenue Chelsea(212) 929-1855
Getting There: C, E to 23rd Street, 1 to 23rd Street

Just a few steps from the iconic Hotel Chelsea sits a festive Spanish restaurant with considerable portions and some mighty tasty sangria. El Quijote is a large, traditional, lively restaurant that is always jam-packed patrons crammed at tables with countless bustling waiters seamlessly swerving in between them. The boisterous bar crowd delivers a welcoming energy as the doors close behind, and you enter the restaurant. Taking in the delicious aroma of the evening, the sound can be a little overwhelming, but once in the restaurant’s enormous seating area in back, the jovial atmosphere is a welcome change of pace to the rigors of everyday life outside.

This restaurant manages to get all of the little things right- things that we might normally take for granted. With so many servers and bus staff, there’s never an instant where you don’t have somebody’s full attention. Moreover, restaurants in New York City today, so concerned with their ambiance and décor seem to miss the most important part of going out for dinner, and the food at El Quijote is terrific.

First, the menu options seem to be limitless. Large page after large page features different mouth-watering courses from Tapas to entrees, liquor to side dishes, Mariscos to Canes; it would take you three months to taste everything on the menu. But that’s why you are seeking out to nudge you in the right direction. Bring a pack of gum with you because the garlic at El Quijote is incredible, but it is no joke.

Our party of four began with the “Camarones En Salsa Verde” ($10.95) from the appetizers-tapas menu, a heaping silver pot of some of the most tender and delicious shrimp that we’ve ever tasted, caked in a savory green, garlic broth. The portion was an appetizer but we asked for a main course size, which the restaurant gladly obliged. The sauce was salty smooth, and served as a perfect coating for our repeatedly refilled bread baskets. Similarly, and by way of reference, we also ordered a plate of the “Camarones Ajillo” ($10.95), another delicious portion of shrimp in garlic sauce, just made without the flat leaf parsley and white onion. The sauce was less sweet, but just as savory. You cannot go wrong with either dish. We also tasted and subsequently recommend the “Filet Mignon Tips” ($10.95), a sizzling plate of perfectly cooked filet beef, salted and seared with juicy finish and mixed lightly with some Portobello mushrooms.

With steak & shrimp out of the way in our starters, we immediately eyed up the entrée menu. From red snapper to whole lobster and mussels to ribeyes, porterhouses, and a Cornish hen, this place can has no shortage of options. Also, El Quijote has a fabulous Paella (lobster or mixed seafood is the way to go), but we opted for something a bit lighter that we had our hearts set on: “Mariscada En Salsa Verde” ($19.95, not on menu but ask for it). A Mariscada is essentially a large crock pot filled with a thick, mouth-watering broth and filled with mixed seafood- clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops, and with a side bed of yellow rice, and freshly prepared hot potato chips. Served with a salad to start, the portion is suitable for sharing or for an incredibly hungry individual. The combination of flavors is indescribable, as we soaked up every last drop of the broth, which was tasty enough to devour with only a spoon.

Needless to say this was not our first trip to El Quijote and it surely will not be our last. It is quite simply a superb, old-fashioned restaurant that gets everything right when patrons dine out. Although we carelessly did not leave room for dessert, perhaps that is the biggest compliment a restaurant can be given: we were too full and we had no choice; the food was too delectable to pass up.

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. Yup your review was right on. Superb each and every time we visit. A highlight when we visit the city and our first place to bring friends and relatives from out of state.
    A mouth watering delicious place to eat for many many years. Its certainly a recommended “great place to eat” when visiting NYC.