When your family has been in the restaurant business serving Spanish tapas for decades, you would probably know a thing or two about creating authentic, delicious tapas.
This is the case for siblings Paul and Natalie Rivas, who opened Bodega on Main in 2015, following in their father, Francisco Rivas’ footsteps. Their father had been the co-owner of La Bodega, a Vancouver institution for 43 years from 1971 to 2014. Growing up in the kitchen with his father influenced Paul to foster an interest in cooking, and from reading cookbooks on Spanish cuisine when he was little, he grew up to become a top graduate of the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. He then went on to open Bodega on Main, and is a partner in The Parlour Restaurant with locations in both Vancouver and Toronto.
Bodega on Main’s vintage interior decor with handcrafted bar stools and custom designed leather seating is a nod to the old La Bodega, outfitted with an updated, eclectic vibe more fitting of the restaurant’s location on Main Street in Vancouver. Vintage artwork and lighting fixtures paired with antique accents reminds patrons of the family’s deep culinary roots in Vancouver.
The 75-seat dining room features a cozy seating arrangement, with comfortable chairs and airy, high ceilings. The entrance features a large mirror, catching the afternoon light and anchored by a decorative bench where guests can wait to be seated. One side of the wall is covered in colourful posters that speak to the history of Spain, and the tiled flooring reminds one of the artistic Spanish culture.
Even if you happen to stop by just for a glass of wine, you can find an extensive selection that is 100% Spanish, with a great representation of various regions in Spain. The orange liqueur and brandy fortified red wine Sangria is also a classic thirst-quencher on the menu perfect for the hotter summer months.
While the menu rotates seasonally to highlight dishes like Spanish potato salad and Salpicon (great dishes for warm weather), there are a few mainstays you must consider the next time you pay a visit to Bodega on Main.
CHULETILLAS DE CORDERO
The rosemary marinated and grilled lamb chops are aromatic, flavourful and juicy. The only issue you will have is that there are just two pieces with one order, so you will want to order more for the table to share!
GAMBAS AL AJILLO
Who doesn’t love sautéed prawns in garlic and chillies? Our recommendation is to savour the sauce with a bread basket.
If it’s hot out, trust us that this dish should be at the top of your list of things to order for the table. Light and refreshing with a citrus marinade that makes your mouth water, this dish has just the right amount of tang to get your appetite going on a hot summer day. The prawns and scallops are juicy that one small plate won’t be enough.
PULPO A LA PARILLA
If you love grilled octopus, this is the perfect portion to share. The grilled ocotpus served with piquillo romesco is delicious both in texture and taste. The housemade sauce is so popular it’s sold at a variety of retail food and grocery stores.
Saffron rice with seafood, chicken, chorizo and pork. Prepare yourselves for the concentrated burst of flavour from this dish. The jumbo prawns are the size of mini lobsters, there is abundance of clams and mussels in addition to the spicy chorizo and pork. The saffron rice is perfectly cooked, enveloped in the rich aromas of the sauce but still chewy with the right amount of texture. We love the medley of flavours found in this dish, and it definitely was the highlight for us.
Next time you are looking for a Spanish tapas spots to enjoy scrumptious, authentic small plates over a pitcher of Sangria in a cozy leather seating booth, we would recommend a visit to Bodega on Main, where you can choose from authentic dishes and an expansive list of Spanish wines.