Caldwell, NJ 07006
- Cost: $$
- Credit Cards: All Major
- Alcohol: BYO
- Parking: Street, Metered
July 23, 2014
Grab a nice bottle of Spanish wine – a Rioja (red), Albariño (white), or a traditional Oloroso Sherry perhaps – and head to Caldwell, NJ for delicious Galician tapas.
A few minutes into our menu study at Xunta – Tapas España, trying to choose among small plates like Chourizo a Prancha, Polvo a Feira, and Queixo de Teta, my wife and I realized something was off. The menu items have strange Spanish spellings. Queixo instead of queso, for example. Is it Portuguese? No, turns out it is Galician, the distinct language spoken in the extreme Northwest corner of Spain. Galicia is an autonomous region with Spain the the east, Portugal to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and north. Carmen Mendez, Xunta’s owner, hails from this Spanish region known for its seafood. Her menu at Xunta includes many Galician specialties, like Caldo Gallego (a hearty soup with bean, chorizo and broccoli rabe), the cow’s milk Queixo de Teta cheese (named for its breast-like shape), and Polvo a Feira (Galician-style octopus with sweet and spicy paprika).
These dishes are made for sharing. Most can be ordered either as a tapa or the larger racion. Do not leave without trying the Patacas Bravas (literally, angry potatoes, fried potato cubes coated in a spicy, paprika aioli). One of our dining companions described these irresistible potatoes as an “Anthony kind of dish – rustic, spicy and unhealthy.” I took it as a compliment because I couldn’t stop eating them.
Other strong plates are the grilled chorizo with caramelized Spanish onions (Chourizo a Prancha), the baked dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon (Datiles con Toucino), and the Morcilla con Cebola, a vinegary blood sausage with onions. And you can easily make a meal out of the Spanish cheese or meat boards.
Right across Bloomfield Avenue from the Cloverleaf Tavern, Xunta features a narrow, stylish dining room. Service is efficient, friendly and helpful. No need to read Galician, or even Spanish – all the tapas on the menu have English translations.