After following your hostess through the street-level restaurant 1492 Tapas Bar and into the cramped elevator, you'll find yourself in a basement hideaway. As the well-worn saying goes, good things come in small packages, and Cava Lounge has good things going for it despite its minute space.
There are no secret passwords or membership cards despite the underground club vibe. There's no natural light and, shunning fancy for functional, a handful of framed pictures serve as the lounge's only decoration. What you notice most about the space is the level of noise: Latin music bounces around the close quarters as it blares over the speakers, and tables of young professionals tipsily shout over it to be heard.
The waitersóall three of themórush about the tight space and in between the high tables, careful not to bump the patrons propped up on bar stools, while they make constant trips up and down the elevator to retrieve food. Despite the hustle, the service isn't always promptówe waited almost five minutes just to get our menusóbut the food and drinks are worth the delay.
The menu consists of cold and hot tapas, a couple of salads, a soup of the day and four or five entrees. Everything on the menu is under $12, with the exception of the entrees which cost $17-$22. Have the assorted cheese platter and lomo embuchado, thin-sliced, smoked pork tenderloin. Or try the croquetas de queso, stuffed with garlic mushrooms or grilled salmon. The Spanish wine list is long, but order like the regulars do and have a glass or pitcher of sangria (available in white, red, peach or mango).
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Albrey Nuss