BELLEVUE, WA: Castilla Restaurant and Tapas Bar

During a recent visit to Bellevue, we happened upon Castilla Restaurant and Tapas Bar. Big fans of tapas, we decided it sounded like just the place for our dinner. We could not have chosen better.

Ushered into the bar area, bartender Javier did double duty as our server. He started out by making some excellent suggestions for wines to pair with the solid food yet to come: a Kentia AlbariƱo from Rias Baxias, Spain for my wife ($12) and a Flowerhead Sauvignon Blanc from the Columbia Valley of Washington for me ($14). He was also gracious and encouraging as I attempted to use my minimal Spanish language skills.

Creamy gazpacho
Our dinner started with a bowl of creamy gazpacho, unlike the chunkier, more rustic varieties I’m used to. Once I got past the textural surprise, I quite enjoyed it. The puree of tomato, cucumber, sherry vinegar and spices was topped with a splash of olive oil, and contained slices of what I believe were Kalamata olives ($7 for a small: $12 for a large).

Bacon-wrapped dates. YUMMY!
Then it was on to several selections from the “Hot Tapas” section of the menu. The grilled sardines were surprisingly unfishy ($15). Clams with ham and fennel in a sherry sauce practically begged us to dunk our bread in and sop up the sauce ($16). Bacon-wrapped dates from the Para Picar (to snack) menu provided a touch of sweetness ($10).

Clams with ham and fennel in a sherry sauce

Not quite sated, we opted for a second order of the grilled sardines and a grilled flatbread topped with beef steak, pickled grapes, parmesan and arugula ($15). NOW we were stuffed!

In addition to tapas, Castilla offers croquetas, empanadas, a selection of salads and soups, and four different kinds of paella: mixta, rabbit, squid ink and vegetarian. Paellas are all $32 per person with a minimum of two people, but the paella comes in a traditional serving dish and it’s HUGE. We’re saving that for a time when we can have another couple or two join us, but very much looking forward to it.

The place also has a selection of Tablas (boards) on which are piled cheese and jam, one of three different varieties of Spanish jamon (ham), a selection of Spanish cheeses, or a mix of Spanish cured meat and cheese.

Entrance on Bellevue Way

The room is "live" acoustically, meaning it can get a little loud, but that just seems to add to the positive energy of the place. Considering the quality of both the food and service, we’re anticipating many more trips to Bellevue as we work our way through the extensive menu. Give it a try; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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