Tener un algo especial! Iberico in La Jolla is not your average Spanish gin joint!
Iberico Spanish Bistro and Gin Club
Address: 909 Prospect St., Suite 290, La Jolla
Phone: (858) 454-1958
The Vibe: Elegant, upscale casual, intimate
Signature Dishes: Solomillo en Salsa de Trufa, Paella Mixta, Langostino Iberico, Jabugo Bellotero
Open Since: 2013
Patio Seating: Yes
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. daily
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
By Kelley Carlson
When the sun sets, Iberico Spanish Bistro and Gin Club rises to the occasion. It’s the time when one of La Jolla’s newest restaurants really comes to life, said General Manager Carlos Aceves — much like in Spain, which is notorious for its night owls. Filled with natural light by day, it becomes dim in the evening with illumination from turquoise-colored chandeliers. In the main dining and bar areas, guests relax in cowhide seats and socialize or gaze at the colorful paintings, a mural featuring lions pulling a chariot and cases filled with empty wine glasses. Some people tune in to the sounds of guitar-based Spanish melodies.
Soccer is THE sport to watch, often dominating the four TVs. (Aceves is predicting that Iberico will be the hot spot in La Jolla for next summer’s FIFA World Cup coverage.)
Outside on the brick terrace, dotted with red umbrellas and heat lamps, patrons wearing everything from T-shirts to suits gather around tables draped in white cloth. There are views of Prospect Street below and a peek of the Pacific Ocean just a short distance away.
Heading toward the rear of the establishment, visitors travel through a hallway lined with matador hats and curvaceous bowls created from blown glass. The elegant back room of La Jolla’s only Spanish restaurant is designed for events and private dining. Its most striking feature is the mural of a bull, painted in deep hues of blue, green and red. On either side are racks filled with Spanish wines; patrons who desire other beverages can step up to the room’s bar.
“Everything is Spain, Spain, Spain, Spain,” Aceves emphasized.
That includes the gin club, which is the first space in California dedicated to the gin and tonic, according to its website. The highball cocktail is all the rage in the European country and it has become one of those “must-do” activities when visiting.
Iberico’s version features gin brought to the table in a balloon glass, garnished with citrus peels and botanicals; the server then pours tonic down a swizzle spoon into the glass. Among the specialty blends is the blush-pink 209 with hints of Tuscan juniper berry, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and Bergamot orange.
When it comes to the cuisine, people can nosh on tapas and pintxos (snacks) or order a full dinner. The pintxos consist of toasted baguettes with a variety of toppings, held together by toothpicks. Varieties include the Berengena & Gamba (rolled-up battered eggplant with shrimp), Atun con Guindillas & Aceitunas (seared ahi tuna with a spicy-sweet guindilla pepper and green olive), Jamon & Chorizo (Serrano ham and grilled sausage with roasted pepper mayonnaise) and Tortilla Española (a soft potato-and-chorizo egg torte).
Among other light fare is the Gambas al Ajillo, shrimp lightly sauteed with garlic guindilla peppers and olive oil; and the Gazpacho Andaluz, a traditional cold tomato soup that incorporates red bell peppers, cucumber, hard-boiled eggs and croutons brunoise.
Cocas make a great appetizer or main course, Aceves said. The Spanish herb and red wine flatbreads are oval-shaped and stretched paper-thin. An example is the Champiñones, with Spanish brandy mushrooms, garlic, tomato and herb casse.
But it’s Iberico’s paella that really deserves attention. There are several types using golden Saffron Bomba rice. The Paella Mixta combines organic vegetables, Spanish sausages and fresh seafood; the Paella Marinera showcases mollusks, crustaceans and other edibles from the Pacific.
Other notable entrees include the Langostino Iberico, sweetwater prawns sauteed with butter; and the sweet-and-nutty Jabugo Bellotero ham, carved razor-thin.
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.
This week: Iberico’s Tortilla Espanola
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