Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mateo Tapas: Downtown Durham Eats

Jamon Mixto (large) including Serrano, Lomo, Chorizo, and a local Mangalista
I'm going to jump on the Durham foodie bandwagon and sing my praises for Mateo Tapas, the Spanish eatery in downtown owned by Matt Kelly of Vin Rouge. There has already been a lot of hype about this new restaurant in the few short months it's been open. I wanted to see what all the buzz was about and judge for myself. Gavin and I have already been there twice together and he's been a third time as well. Considering we are relatively new parents with a baby that goes to bed at 6pm, this in and of itself says a lot about our feelings toward this place. We have also been fortunate enough to travel to Spain and experience tapas in their native environment. And we still love this place. Is it exactly the same as what you'll get in Spain? Of course not. Chef Kelly puts his own Southern spin on a lot of dishes. But on the other hand, there are many authentic offerings, like the meat plate pictured above - Gavin's all time favorite. And if you aren't able to fly to Spain any time soon, I promise Mateo will be a great place to visit in the meantime.
Ensalada de Remolacha Asada: roasted beets, orange, avocado, watermelon, pine nuts, goat cheese
The best thing about tapas is that you get to try a lot of different things. And fortunately the menu is varied enough that you're sure to get something that everyone really likes. The salad above combines Spanish and local flavors together to make a tower of deliciousness. Beets and goat cheese are one of my all time favorite combinations and I'm more than happy to let crisp watermelon and creamy avocado join the party. As you can see, Gavin and I are on opposite ends of the food spectrum when it comes to favorites but we both enjoy meeting in the middle and trying each others' favs... I guess our foodie relationship bodes well for our own relationship. :) But I digress...back to the food.
Fried calamari with pimenton aioli
As you may (or may not) know, I have a gluten allergy or sensitivity. I am not deathly allergic, thank goodness, but it makes me feel icky when I eat it so I tend to avoid it in general. However, I do make exceptions every once in awhile. Something so good it just screams "eat me!" with no care for my gluten sensitive self. One such dish would be fried calamari. Now pretty much all fried dishes are off-limits for me (sad, I know) unless they are breaded with cornmeal but that's rare. In general I'm ok with this and can pass on the fried delights. But fried calamari is just too stinking good to pass up. I've had it all over the world and at various places in Durham and, thankfully, Mateo's version does not disappoint. There is nothing worse than sacrificing my gut for something that is less than stellar. These tender rings with crispy outsides were just delicious. And that beautiful orange sauce on the side is a creamy aoili flavored with pimenton (aka Spanish paprika). As you can probably tell, my dinner companions had already dove upon the delights before I was able to take a picture but don't let the sloppiness fool you: it was awesome.

Now these are only a few of the dishes that we ordered and that are available. I could go on and on about the other treats like white anchovies, pork ribs, and Moroccan spiced chicken. But I'll let you discover some of those on your own. If your mouth isn't watering yet, check out a few more offerings at Carpe Diem or check out the six page drink menu complete with tons of sherry, Spanish wines, and creative cocktails.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, I just went to Mateo for lunch one day but it was really good! I was wishing it could have been a wine lunch.