Last week on a lazy Friday, my childhood friend called to see if I wanted to go to a wine bar. No food though, she just wanted to drink.
Now, if you've been reading this blog long enough, you know my preferred method of socializing is through food. My friend is an exercise fiend and often skips eating to work out. Why walk when you can run is her motto. She's also done just about every martial art activity. It's a good thing we've known each other forever and have other things in common because ya'll know I'd rather eat than run. We're from the same village in Vietnam, grew up together in Oregon, both lived in the Bay Area at one point, and are now in SoCal. But while I would opt for a nice leisurely meal to catch up, she would rather linger over glasses of wine.
Naturally, that led to settling on tapas for dinner. If you're unfamiliar with tapas, it's basically Spanish bar snacks. I've heard that in Spain, the cold snacks would be pre-prepared, and the hot snacks will often be cooked literally at the bar. I can't vouch for that as my only time in Spain was on Ibiza and I spent that week mainly buzzed on vodka and Red Bull, dancing until dawn, flirting with a certain red-headed Scotsman, covered up to my waist in foam parties, except for an overnight spontaneous ferry ride to Barcelona and back with only a change of clothes in our purses. *cough* Ah, umm, no, no, this isn't a story about topless bars. Tapas. Tapas bars. :P
Sigh. I'm so old now. Reminiscing about my youth...
Anyway, as I was saying, my friend took me to Cobras & Matadors in Los Feliz because it was in walking distance from her apartment. We got there around 8 p.m., but without a reservation, was relegated to the outside patio. That was fine with me as it was a nice warm evening. Seated next to the window, I could gaze inside at the restaurant's wall of red books and red hanging lamps. I kinda felt like "The Little Match Girl," except it wasn't snowing and I'm obviously not starving.
Already at our table was a small bowl of black and green olives and cinnamon almonds. No, I didn't eat the garlic or chili peppers.
I ordered a glass of sangria, of course. $5. Lookit. It was only slightly bigger than my tea light holder. It tasted very watered down to me. No fruit! And hey, how 'bout serving it in a wine glass? :( Good thing I didn't get a pitcher of this. My friend drank a few glasses of syrah, and I had a nice white wine after this one. Our wines were eek! $10 a glass.
Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with walnuts and goat cheese for $9. Sweet, salty, crispy, soft. All the flavors came together really well.
The tortilla de patatas for $7. Despite what people think a tortilla is, a Spanish tortilla is an omelet. I was expecting something about an inch thick with lots of layers of potatoes. This was just literally a potato omelet and not frittata-like as a Spanish tortilla is supposed to be. Tasty, but disappointing in the presentation.
Crab cakes with chipotle aioli. Very, very good. Chock full of crab meat. $12.
All in all, the tapas were very good, and the prices are typical of most tapas bars. Except, that you see, every tapas bar I go to still doesn't match up to Cafe Iberico in Chicago, where most dishes are between $3-$5 and the portions are substantially bigger. And it's just a much more lively atmosphere, even though there are hellishly long waits on weekends. I know, I know, Cafe Iberico is 2,000 miles away. But a girl can still pine for her long ago love, can't she?
Anyway, Cobras & Matadors is a nice low-key place if you want to just chill with friends over drinks and snacks. Service was very good. The busboy noticed our table was wobbly and immediately folded up a napkin to put underneath the leg. I know it's not fair, but I think I've just become too accustomed to dining at cheap San Gabriel Valley Chinese restaurants because I keep thinking the $60 price of dinner could have bought me a whole multi-course meal. Yes, yes, I know, alcohol is expensive and that's where half the bill went but still...
Afterward, since it was a nice night out and we weren't quite ready to go home, we opted to try out Scoops - Los Angeles, the gelateria that's been getting rave reviews. We drove up right as they were about to close the front door. The rest of the story can be read on that post.
August 5, 2009 Update: This location of Cobras and Matadors is now closed.
Cobras & Matadors
4655 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Sunday - Thursday 6 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Friday - Saturday 6 p.m. - midnight