MICHELIN Guide’s Point Of View
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 brought her cherished style to Brooklyn via La Vara, which she co-owns with husband, Eder Montero. Billing itself as "cocina casera" or "home cooking," this kitchen has been a hit since day one, elevating its 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 have featured coins of toothsome pulpo set over a crunchy parsley salad; while crispy suckling pig gives way to confit-tender meat.