Chef Alex Raij knows her tapas and helped kick-start the craze in Manhattan when she opened beloved Tía Pol years ago, before moving on to the equally popular El Quinto Pino. In 2012, the chef jumped boroughs to Brooklyn and opened La Vara, which she co-owns with husband, Eder Montero.
Billing itself as “cocina casera” or “home cooking,” this kitchen elevates humble cuisine to such impressive levels that it’s proved well worth the cab trip for non-Brooklynites. Product quality is excellent, and the playful spirit behind dishes is the definition of creative cooking. Menu highlights include salmorejo, a delicate and flavorful salt cod carpaccio, and crispy suckling pig, with confit-tender meat. End with melocoton, or wine-poached peaches in a light custard.