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Finding Authentic Spanish Food in New York

© Michael Turek

Seamus Mullen, executive chef and partner at the New York Spanish restaurants Suba, Boqueria, and the new Boqueria SoHo, says he couldn’t live without Despaña (he helped us pick the eight specialties featured on this page). But then, a lot of us feel that way about the only shop in Manhattan that specializes exclusively in comida española. Perched on the border between SoHo and Little Italy, this pint-size boutique is stocked with items like red Alicante saffron, white asparagus from the Basque region of Navarra, and plump Oro Verde olives stuffed with blue cheese, anchovy paste, lemon, and garlic. But it’s behind the counter where you’ll find the real rarities: more than 60 artisanal cheeses (many from goat’s and sheep’s milk), Giraldo bacalao (sea salt–cured cod), and an assortment of meats rarely found in the States, including Despaña’s private-label chorizo and jamón ibérico de bellota, the famous cured ham made from black pigs fattened on acorns in southwestern Spain. But the jewel in this Spanish crown may well be the small café in back, which serves homemade tortilla española, bocadillos (ciabatta sandwiches), and the perfect café con leche. At 408 Broome St.; 212-219-5050; despananyc.com.

  • Mini green beans from La Verdina are perfect for tossing in a sausage soup. $14
  • Dantza piquillo peppers from northern Spain are often stuffed with salt cod or braised oxtail. $13
  • Ormaza Ventresca, a high-quality tuna belly, is delicious atop a salad. $13
  • From the Catalonia region, El Faro Aceitunas Arbequina olives are for snacking. $6
  • Reales Almazaras de Alcañiz Caracter olive oil is excellent drizzled over roasted or grilled fish. $18
  • Arroz Bomba is the ultimate rice for paella; the short grains absorb liquid without losing their bite. $10
  • The Spanish Pimentón de la Vera (paprika) is sprinkled on fried potatoes served with aioli. $4
  • Crispy, slightly sweet olive oil tarts from Ines Rosales pair nicely with a cheese plate. $6