La Taberna – A Spanish Gem in The Heart of Leeds

La Taberna is a cosy, family-run restaurant serving traditional Spanish Tapas. Last night, my boyfriend and I had the pleasure of eating at this hidden gem of a Spanish eatery.

I want to spread the word about La Taberna as we had the best evening – and I want others to be able to enjoy this Spanish experience, too.  

Even before walking into the restaurant we knew we were in for a treat. To reach La Taberna, you must go down a small staircase, which may not be great for those with mobility issues, but for us, it was lovely. The staircase was carefully decorated with fairy lights and flowers, and as we drew closer, we enjoyed more and more delicious wafts of Spanish scents coming from the kitchen. 

When we walked in, we loved the friendly welcome and the Spanish feel – low lighting, Spanish music and lots of people chatting and eating. We were shown to our table, which was perfectly located in the heart of the restaurant, and were given a few minutes to decide what to order – but not before some recommendations were made by our waiter. 

The dishes were served as and when they were ready. Normally, I am not a fan of that style of service and prefer all the food to come at the same time, but at La Taberna it worked really well as it gave us the time to enjoy each plate and spend longer talking. It made the whole evening feel very relaxed – unlike some restaurants, where customers can be made to feel rushed to vacate their table, ready for more customers. 

We opted for two of the special dishes which had been recommended, the blue cheese and courgette Spanish omelette and the chicken croquettes, both served with aioli. I loved the soft omelette which was warm and broke apart easily with a fork. I thought the addition of the courgette and blue cheese was inspired, and really helped lift the dish. My boyfriend enjoyed the croquettes, which we were told had taken nearly two days to make from scratch. The croquettes were moist and well-seasoned – think posh chicken nuggets! 

We also ordered four of the standard dishes: the Berenjena Frita (aubergine fries seasoned with cinnamon honey and blue cheese), the Filete de Ternera (flat iron steak with sweet plantain puree – see feature photo), the Camalares Fritos (deep fried squid rings with a fruity aioli) and the Chuleta de Cordero (chargrilled lamb cutlets with vegetable puree). All four dishes are on the fixed menu and we could see why – they were all incredible. 

Neither of us would usually opt for aubergine as we find often find it slimy, but at La Taberna the aubergine fries were super crispy and the addition of cinnamon, honey and blue cheese was fab. We loved how the fries kept their crunch even as we reached the bottom of the bowl. The calamari also kept their crunch. We also loved the fact that they were not greasy or heavy as some can be, and the squid itself wasn’t chewy – a big tick in our book. 

The steak was heaven – moist, juicy, perfectly cooked. It was well up there with the best steak we’ve ever had full stop, not just at a tapas restaurant. It was so good, in fact, that we almost ordered another. The lamb cutlets were also well cooked and an ideal size for a tapas dish. We were given a large knife to eat the cutlets with, but we would recommend eating them with your fingers to enjoy the full meaty experience! 

Although we were happily satisfied with our savoury tapas, we always find it difficult to leave a place without trying their desserts, and it was no different at La Taberna. We chose the homemade crème caramel and the churros with warm chocolate sauce. The crème caramel was sweet, creamy and heady with vanilla – a really authentic treat. I loved the hot churros generously dusted with sugar. The pot of chocolate sauce was the right size and gave us plenty of yumminess to dip into. Both desserts were fab – and ended the meal perfectly. 

Overall, we had a brilliant evening. We were impressed with the quality of the food and the friendly service. The menu was well balanced, and the food was great value for money. We ordered 6 tapas dishes, and 2 dessert plates, which was ideal for us. We didn’t have any wine but were tempted to order a jug of sangria after hearing great things about it from the other diners.

We really cannot praise the restaurant enough and would certainly recommend La Taberna to others. We will be back soon to try out more of their dishes, and drinks, and to soak up more of the traditional Spanish vibes.  

Thanks to Guido, Vivi and the rest of the La Taberna team for giving us such a special evening that we won’t forget.

All photographs by Gemma Bridge.

Caracas Grill La Taverna is at 16 York Place basement.  0113 245 0871

Dr Gemma Bridge

Gemma, who works at Leeds Beckett University, has been writing for over 10 years and loves to share what's going on in and around Leeds. She is also an international athlete, artist and the creator of Leeds Food Guide. You can find her on Instagram at @GLB_racewalk or @Leeds_FoodGuide

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