La Taberna Tapas on HalstedUniversity Village / Little Italy | Website
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This vibrant University Village eatery serves Spanish, Mediterranean and South American-influenced tapas. In the kitchen, from Gustavo Castañeda (formerly of Zocalo) and Enrique Cortez (last at Ole Lounge) are cooking up dishes such as beef empanadas stuffed with raisins and queso fresco and garnished with avocado mousse. La Taberna Tapas also offers paella, made with saffron rice, pork, chicken, chorizo and squid, and several entrees cooked and served on cedar planks -- including Cornish hen and Alaskan salmon. The space is decorated with red chandeliers, a granite bar and recreations of paintings from Spanish artists such as Joan Miró. Also on the menu: Three house sangrias -- one infused with blueberry and ginger, one tinged with lavender and another made using jalapeño-flavored tequila -- all served sample-sized as a flight.