Every so often, I stumble across a great memory from my days living in cities other than DC that makes all of my travels worth the effort. I don’t know whether it’s a negative or a positive to say that I have lived like a nomad for most of my life. A bonafide gypsy. I still tend to use my trunk like an extra closet, an unsightly habit carried through from my college days. And although all of this mobility caused me many hernias from moving in-and-out of walk-up apartments scattered across NYC, and misplaced belongings due to various interstate moves, one thing remains intact. That is my memories of those random, pleasant experiences had from days wandering each city with not a plan in mind except getting lost amongst the crisscross of neighborhoods and discovering hidden treasures that often go unnoticed, as they are quickly swallowed up by the enormity of the bustling metropolitan map, and condensed cornucopia of options.
A few years back, on such a journey while living in New York, I stumbled across a gem of a restaurant called Sevilla. At the time, my boyfriend lived around the corner, and I would pass this subtle hole-in-the-wall on many an occasion, perched unassumingly at the the crux of a charming West Village intersection, nestled comfortably between Charles and West 4th Streets. But by the looks of it, you could just tell that it had been around for a while. Not the contrived type of feel that you get from a new restaurant faking its antique mojo. No, this place emitted a sense of established grandeur for its quaint little outwardly appearance. And each time I passed by…oh the heavenly aromas that would float out ever-so-gently from the creaks and crevices of the old building’s facade, tempting my taste buds with their sensory wiles. Little did I know at the time, but this was actually one of the cities longest revered restaurants, having opened its doors at the location back in 1941.
Every now and again, I get a distinct craving for a few restaurants from my past, and this is most definitely one of them. Each visit was a special occasion. The ambiance is dim, almost to the point of romantic, and the dark wooden walls are adorned with antique inspired artwork and maps that reflect the heart of the restaurants tradition and culture, honoring their namesake…paying tribute to Southern Spain. The waitstaff made you feel at home, as if you were in their own dining room, each of them long-time, seasoned servers, who could rattle off the essence of each dish without skipping a beat. You really felt like you were amongst the pros, and that your meal was in good hands.
All of the dishes pay homage to traditional Spanish fare, including the most amazing assortment of Paella dishes, that after tasting, will make future attempts at the dish futile…a distant second at best. Their blends are a symphony of flavor, pairing together the most tender chicken, seafood and sausage that you won’t soon forget. You really just cannot go wrong with this menu.
My personal craving is ALWAYS for two things in particular.The homemade red sangria paired with the Shrimp Ajillo (garlic shrimp), accompanied by a basket of the freshest, crustiest bread imaginable. When I say this is pure heaven, I sincerely mean it. The shrimp arrives at your table on the type of serving platters that are well-worn and charmingly traditional, sizzling, snapping, and…quite frankly…swimming in butter. But, that is what makes them so tasty I would imagine. And not an ounce goes to waste, because once the shrimp have been devoured, you are left to digest, peacefully sip away at the tangy sangria, and dip your crisp bread in the sinfully, garlicy butter mixture left behind. Now, mind you…I don’t recommend this dish if you have a date later that evening…or possibly for several evenings after. It is POTENT. But completely worth it.
There is no question why Sevilla has aged so gracefully, in my mind; you just can’t mess with this kind of tradition. This place makes me long to live in the culture that gathers for several course meals held on a Spanish countryside, interrupted only by a long afternoon siesta. Ahhh, a girl can dream. Truly one of my favorites of all time.