3923 Fourth Ave. (Hillcrest)
Happy Hour: 5 p.m. to closing, Monday through Thursday; 5 to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
Come on Get Happy! | Dr. Ink
Americans were reportedly introduced to sangria at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York by visiting Spaniards who taught us the beauty of mixing wine with fruit. Recipes for the drink have since taken wild turns, ranging from super-sweet to hot and spicy. At Tapas Picasso, the formula is a pleasing blend of burgundy, soda water and a touch of Sprite, resulting in an effervescent buzz worthy of a flamenco dance.
During happy hour, the sangria is available in various sized pitchers priced between $12.50 and $20. Visiting as a twosome, we ordered it in a porrón, a smallish traditional decanter with a pointy spout at the bottom. The cost per porrón is only $10, which afforded us each about a glass and a half.
“Definitely a wine lover’s sangria,” my friend said as we applauded its tame sweetness and fruity undertones supplied from pieces of oranges and red apples floating in our glasses. With summer upon us, the stuff goes down effortlessly and catches up quickly if you succumb to drinking it too fast. The beverage deals extend to domestic beers ($2.50) and house wine ($5), but when lolling in a Spanish-owned establishment that’s been around for 20 years, the notion of commercial, American beer seems sacrilege.
Prices for select tapas are also discounted during happy hour, with about six costing $5 apiece and nearly 35 others from the regular menu offered at $1 off. Based on past dinners here, the food stimulates the palate with discernible measures of garlic, herbs and occasional bursts of heat from chili peppers.
We ordered fried potatoes bathed in spicy chipotle aioli, a perfect come-on to the slightly carbonated sangria. The cubed spuds had an addicting twice-cooked essence about them; soft in the middle and crispy around the edges. Had we not planned on making additional bar stops afterwards, we would have encroached further on albacore mousse pâté, Spanish sausages and chicken breast in mushroom-wine sauce. The more tapas, the merrier, and all the more reason to indulge in a portly pitcher of Spain’s national tonic.
The sangria is simple and refreshing, made with burgundy, soda water and a discrete measure of Sprite.
After sampling the potatoes in chipotle aioli, you’ll be tempted to stay for dinner and savor the dozens of other tapas inspired by kitchens of northern Spain.
The savings on drink and tapas range between 20 and 40 percent. Both the sangria and food portions are easily shareable with at least one other person.
Customers are acknowledged quickly when entering through the door and the wait staff is attentive to details.
During the bulk of the week, happy hour stays in place until closing.