Tucked away in a quiet corner of the west lake, just beyond the hustle of central Tay Ho, El Loco Tapasbar is a hugely popular haunt and it is no mystery as to why. The wooden tables lit with a candle, with chairs just perfect for leaning are just part of what makes El Loco stand out and give it an intimate, homely feel. Here, guests chat in grown-up tones to the tunes of Spanish classics such as ‘Bamboleo’ by The Gipsy Kings. A hipster hangout, this is not.
“Everyone has fun together— like a little family.”-Miguel Soria Castro
El Loco is one of a growing number of Hanoi restaurants offering authentic overseas cuisine. And what could be more real deal than a Spanish chef from Valencia whose recipes draw directly from the traditional dishes he grew up on, some even from his mother’s own cookbook. Everything is homemade here, down to the garlic aioli.
Chef and owner Miguel Soria Castro and partner Cristian Sanchez Salas opened the restaurant in 2017 after realizing there was a huge Spanish cuisine gap in the city. “It’s really fun and nice here,” Castro told Chào. “Everyone has fun together— like a little family.”
Castro says that being in Vietnam limits his options in terms of ingredients and this affects the breadth of the menu, though it does not seem like that when browsing. The rich tapestry of dishes on offer makes for some tough decision making. There is an array of meats, seafood, cheeses and vegetarian sides that come in steaming earthen bowls, which are perfect for sharing though you may not want to. Stand out dishes here include, the crisp judios verdes coupled with the stewed chickpeas and chorizo or sautéed mushrooms plus the blue mussels in cider and grapes. Prices are reasonable here too, starting at 50,000 VND and rarely getting above 100,000.
Dinner is served until 10 p.m. but groups are best off making a reservation to avoid disappointment, especially on weekends. On top of the tasty tapas, you can top things off with a superb assortment of Spanish wines, sangria or, for those feeling devilish, add the addition of a sweet finish to the savory mains, such as the mini chocolate croquetas or a crema Catalana. So, if you are in Hanoi and you need a little taste of Spain, there is no need to buy a ticket, transportation awaits on entry and with every bite at this excellent tapas restaurant.
65/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho
034 649 2384
Midday to 10 p.m.