Boqueria, the lively Spanish tapas bar and restaurant, is now open in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square at 46 South Main Street.
Boqueria’s intimate ambiance, simple yet delicious Spanish dishes, and craft cocktails aim to create a transporting experience for the guest. Central to the restaurant’s menu are time-honored classics, pan con tomate (iconic Catalan dish of grilled stirato bread rubbed with tomato, garlic and olive oil), pulpo a la plancha (grilled octopus with fennel, smoked pimentón and Picual olive oil mashed potatoes), and gambas al ajillo (plump shrimp cooked in chili-laced olive oil loaded with garlic and a shot of brandy for deep flavor and a hint of sweetness). The kitchen will be led by chef Jonathan Navarro, and the restaurant will be led by GM Julien Garcia. Boqueria will offer nightly dinner, weekend brunch, and weekday lunch as well as a late night bar menu.
Paella lives at the heart of Spanish gatherings and no table is complete without one. Boqueria’s signature paella de mariscos is made with saffron-laced bomba rice, a generous topping of fresh seafood (including squid, head-on shrimp, clams mussels, and more), and salsa verde, with a perfect layer of socarrat – the savory, sticky grains of rice at the bottom to be scraped up with a spoon. To finish, there are churros, of course, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and served with rich hot chocolate for dipping. Fresh, seasonal ingredients are paramount and the menu is updated quarterly based on the seasons.
The design, led by Boqueria’s founder and CEO Yann de Rochefort in partnership with ongoing design partner Mancini Duffy Architecture, revolves around a variety of elements that anchor the 5,600 sq ft space to provide smaller, more intimate areas in an open floor plan. A spacious outdoor patio will open in spring 2024.
Upon entering the restaurant, guests are greeted by an island marble bar, detailed with Boqueria’s signature rounded wood elements, and a blackened metal bar display hanging above. Booths are tucked away in warm, glowing coves with curved black metal accent armatures. Anchoring the main dining room, a backlit, fluted glass gantry frames the open kitchen. The ceilings vary in height and tone to establish various dining zones of the restaurant. The layout of the restaurant allows for a 38-seat event area adjacent to a 24-seat private dining room with glass doors. Separating this 60+-person event area is a motorized, textured curtain to allow privacy for events. Shelves line the walls with backlit perforated metal panels and rounded white oak frames featuring traditional Spanish décor. Custom light fixtures hang throughout the space to lend a refined, contemporary twist to the industrial material palette. Polished concrete floors connect the spaces throughout, providing resilience and a neutral stage for the restaurant.
“We have been planning a location in Connecticut for years and found a great spot in Blue Back Square,” says de Rochefort. “We’ve been visiting West Hartford for the last year and have been impressed with the local culinary scene. It’s exciting to be a part of. We’re grateful to all our neighbors who have already made us feel like part of the local community.”
Boqueria got its start in New York City, opening its first location there in 2006. Led by de Rochefort, Boqueria is a reflection of his passion for vibrant energy, thoughtful design and authentic Spanish cuisine. There are now ten Boqueria locations around the country: four in NYC, two in Washington, D.C., one in Nashville and one in Chicago, and the latest location in Boston which opened in September 2023. The West Hartford location marks the tenth, with planned openings for 2024 in Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Boqueria’s national real estate advisors, Taryn Brandes and Emily Green of Brand Urban, a retail real estate brokerage and advisory company based in Manhattan, represented Boqueria in the transaction.
The restaurant is open daily at 5pm for dinner, on weekends for brunch, and weekdays for lunch. Reservations are available on both Resy and OpenTable.