La Bodega by Cúrate, an all-day Spanish café, market and wine bar, expands this week into a newly remodeled two-story space at 32 S. Lexington Avenue. Helmed by Chef de Cuisine Matt Brown, La Bodega is a concept born out of the pandemic that brings together the cornerstones of the Spanish culinary and cultural experience. La Bodega adds a key piece to Katie Button and Felix Meana’s mission to create exceptional and experiential access to Spanish culture through businesses including Cúrate Bar de Tapas, Cúrate Trips, Cúrate at Home, and Cúrate Spanish Wine Club.
“The menu is inspired by my travels to Spain with Felix,” says Brown, “which really highlighted the importance of simplicity in Spanish food. At La Bodega, we are playing on the bedrock of Spanish food – the classics – in creative but simple ways. The menu is elemental and delicious, letting the quality of our ingredients shine.”
“We first opened La Bodega in spring 2020 as a temporary solution during the pandemic to help keep staff employed and feed guests with house-made and imported Spanish items,” says Meana. “We quickly realized La Bodega was filling a void in the community, and made plans to expand our initial pivot project with a relaxed pintxo and wine bar upstairs, building on the popular cafe and Spanish market downstairs.”
The first floor’s 14-seat café will continue to offer an all-day menu featuring house-made bread and pastries, along with Spanish-style sandwiches like the Bocadillo de Jamón, Coca (Catalan flatbread), and grab-and-go bottled gazpacho, salads and more. The first floor also houses a marketplace with imported Spanish specialty ingredients including olive oils, wine, conservas, vinegars and more hand-selected from a network of Spanish producers and purveyors, in addition to house made charcuterie and sausages. The first floor reflects the feel of a European street-side cafe, where guests can stop in to grab a croissant and espresso or enjoy a sandwich for an easy lunch. The downstairs menu is available for counter service or take out.
At the pintxo and wine bar, Brown expands the menu to encompass elements of the customary five meals that make up a Spanish diet: desayuno (a small breakfast), almuerzo (a snack that carries you through to a later lunch), la comida (lunch, usually the largest meal of the day), merienda (an afternoon snack) and la cena (dinner, typically after 9:00pm). The menu highlights and reinvigorates Spanish bodega classics, with a collection of pintxos and conservas, charcuterie, sandwiches, and small plates. Many of the new dishes are rooted in La Bodega’s bread and pastry program such as Anchoa Mantequilla (Cantabrian anchovies and butter on La Bodega toast). New dishes from the kitchen such as Tartar de Ternera (hand-cut steak, multigrain toast, anchovy and nora chili oil) use products sourced from local farms, alongside carefully sourced Spanish specialty items. Platos del día, hearty rotating daily specials, include Pollo al Ajillo (garlic chicken), and Rabo de Toro con Patatas Fritas (braised beef short ribs and crispy potatoes). Platos del día are available at lunch and last until they are gone each day. Desserts like Crema Catalana and Tarta de Chocolate and Piñones close out any meal on a sweet note.
Spanish wines are available on draft, as well as a large selection available by the glass and bottle, all handpicked by Meana and Jessica Salyer, Cúrate Wine Program Manager. “The wine list is built from relationships forged with Spanish producers and importers over the last decade. The list encompasses regions, varietals and winemakers, in an educational and fun way,” says Salyer. “Every single dish goes perfectly with wine, and we’re excited to guide guests through both traditional and unique pairings.” Cocktails, beer, cider, vermouth and a large selection of non-alcoholic beverages are also available.
Meana led the conceptualization of La Bodega’s feel and energy and partnered with Lisa Ellis Design, an Athens, Georgia-based interior design firm, to bring his vision to life. La Bodega’s rustic charm is accentuated by old world European touches like marble and brass accents and vintage decor throughout. To promote a relaxed and lively environment, long, counter-height tables pair with a brand new, curved bar. To further enrich the space, Meana brought in a large collection of original art by his father, Eduardo Meana.
La Bodega by Cúrate serves guests Wednesday-Sunday from 8:00am-10:00pm. The downstairs cafe menu is available 8:00am-6:00pm with the Spanish market available until 10:00pm. The upstairs pintxo and wine bar with full table service is open for brunch at 11:00am each day, closing briefly from 3:00-4:30pm to reset for dinner. La Bodega does not take reservations. Drop by to walk-in or add your name to the waitlist. Visit us at labodegabycurate.com or find La Bodega on Instagram @labodegabycurate.