Never judge a gas station by its appearance, especially not the BP one on 17th Avenue. This Coconut Grove station hides one of the best-kept culinary secrets in the whole of the 305. So if you’re an avid fan of Spanish food and wine, you best head over to the gas station for some fuel– You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Hidden behind the cashier and cigarette counter of this BP’s mini-market lies El Carajo, one of the best Spanish bars in town. Featuring over 2,000 vintage wines, the restaurant boasts one of the most extensive wine collections in Florida, not to mention it also has some excellent Cuban cafecito, croquetas, and tapas.
Walk past the racks of window cleaner, chewing gum and cigarettes, and enter a brick-lined hideaway that will make you feel like you’ve been whisked away to the South of Spain. Grab a seat at one of their polished wood tables and get comfortable to enjoy the perfect pairing of food and wine.
On El Carajo’s menu you’ll find a plethora of Spanish tapas including veggie ones like the famous Spanish tortilla and sauteed mushrooms with Cabernet Sauvignon; meat tapas like Serrano ham croquetas and sauteed Spanish chorizo; and seafood tapas like Galician-style octopus and garlic prawns. The restaurant also offers charcuterie boards topped with the finest Spanish cheeses and cured meats as well as paellas and other delectable Spanish dishes.
If you’re just passing by and don’t have enough time for a full-on sit-down meal, you can always check out their bakery bar, stocked full with tasty treats like Guava and Cheese tequeños, cheese pastelitos, sandwiches and, of course, Cuban coffee.
While some of my fellow Spanish speakers may be reticent about being sent to “el carajo,” I assure you, now that you know of this inconspicuous restaurant in Coconut Grove, you won’t even mind! In fact, you might as well rejoice and thank them because they’ll be giving you the perfect excuse to enjoy a velvety-smooth glass of Spanish wine with some mouth-watering tapas!
[Featured image: Instagram / @theelcarajo]