Our city has its fair share of Spanish food and drink spots, but an upcoming Vancouver eatery aims to transport its guests to Spain without boarding them onto a flight.
Located in the newly completed Ellsworth building on Main Street, Como Taperia (209 East 7th Avenue) is the brainchild of award-winning bartender Shaun Layton, Meat & Bread co-founder Frankie Harrington, and seasoned chef Justin Witcher.
The three restaurant partners have been working on this project for more than two years, spending the majority of the time scouting for the perfect location. Although none of them come from a Spanish heritage (even though Layton noted that Harrington is four percent Spanish), they all share a deep love for the European country and its food and drink culture.
Como (Spanish for “come again?”) will be a proper Barcelona-Madrid-style tapas bar that serves up Spanish bites and libations. “It is going to be a really energy-heavy, exciting, and fun kind of room,” Layton told the Straight in a phone interview. “There was nothing really like it here, and we started about talking about doing something. We just want to bring a really cool experience like that to the city.”
The 1,549-square-foot space will have 60 seats, and an outdoor patio with views of the city will be completed next spring. Ste. Marie Art + Design (Bao Bei, Kissa Tanto, Botanist) is in charge of the Spanish spot’s interior, while Glasfurd & Walker (St. Lawrence, Savio Volpe, Juke Fried Chicken) are behind its branding.
“The room is going to be very inviting with high ceilings, and very bright,” explained Layton. “We’re definitely not a sports bar at all, but we do love soccer and soccer is such a big part of life in Spain. So there’s a cheeky soccer hint to some of the branding, and you’ll see it throughout the space.”
In true tapas bar form, Como’s menu will consist of many classic small plates. Guests can expect to indulge in everything from flavourful anchovies to fresh octopus to tinned fish to patatas bravas (crispy cubed potatoes with various sauces). Imported tapas cases behind the bar will allow bartenders to plate tapas for guests and serve it alongside their drinks.
“That’s going to be a really cool dynamic style of service, because when you walk into a bar in Spain, you can get a glass of cava [Spanish sparkling wine] and some anchovies in 90 seconds,” said Layton.
But chef Witcher will also be creating some contemporary tapas by mixing in some Pacific Northwest flavours. There are currently no plans for paella—one of Spain’s most popular dishes consisting of rice and seafood—to be featured on its menus, though Layton emphasized that could change.
As for Como’s drinks program, thirsty patrons can expect to find a focused spirits list with lots of gin and tonic, vermouth, sherry, cava and some Spanish wines and cocktails. According to Layton, sangria can either be really bad or really good—he’s confident that guests will think the latter of his sangria, which will also be available in pitchers.
He and his partners are hoping to bring the full loud and lively Spanish bar experience to town, complete with a kitchen and stand-up bar, low-top tables, and banquets for groups of all sizes.
“We don’t want to be an expensive place. We want to be somewhere that you can have a few things and go somewhere else, or you can stay the whole night,” said Layton. “That’s kind of what the tapas culture is like. We want to be that authentic tapas experience that I had never seen before I went to Spain, and I was blown away. I want to bring that to Vancouver.”
Como Taperia is scheduled to open sometime this fall.More