>> Circulo Español | Eat the World NYC

03 September 2019

Circulo Español


Now just two years shy of their 50th anniversary, the Centro Español de Queens has lived in its current Astoria home since 1985. Originally called the Circulo Español when formed in 1971, the organization has always had the mission of preserving the Spanish culture of its members and their children. The third major wave of Spanish immigration to the United States that took place during the 60's, 70's and 80's created strong communities here in New York City, always one of the major destinations.

Nowadays many of the members have been here for decades and multiple generations of descendants have grown up in this country, but the center acts as a hub to return to with family for celebrations and comradery. While run separately from the Centro, the restaurant is an important part of the daily operations. Walking up to the bar not only brings you a transition into Spanish culture, but also seems like a bubble away from the rapidly changing streets of Astoria.

Early on a weeknight, the men at the bar all seem like regulars, while the formal dining room is not called into action at all. For a sense of this space at capacity, coming on a weekend is ideal to watch large families at multiple tables. If you come here alone or in a small group, eating in the bar is perfectly fine and comfortable, a few tables surround the space and two Spanish beers and plenty of Spanish wines are always available.

Four flags flank the large TV in the bar along with a World Cup replica trophy that all of Spain was proud to win in 2010, but the beers are the first sense of a strong connection to Galicia, the small northwestern region that juts over Portugal. On the dinner menu, many of the items are described as Galician-style, a sense of what the meals here will focus on.

Marinated olives ($4)

The main dining room doubles as a dance hall and event space and has always been an important place within the institution. On a recent meal with six others, the menu was attacked from all angles to get a sense of what makes the place special.

As you might expect, a thorough list of tapas are available. Most of these dishes are served in bite-sized portions and perfect for sharing.

Patatas bravas ($5)

Pulpo a la Gallega ($18, Galician-style octopus)

Croquetas ($8)

Xouvas ($8, fried sardines)

Fresh anchovies in vinegar ($10)

Nothing served here in the Circulo Español is intended to knock your socks off, but it all gives a deep feeling of being homestyle. Meals seem like they are served by your aunt and uncle who farm in the countryside after you drove two hours to get to their home. The views out the window lack the vistas of rolling hills like Galicia, but as each new dish hits the table it is not hard to imagine them instead of Queens.

Unless you plan on returning many times, bring a large group so you can sample from the extensive offerings. Especially with entrees, the portion sizes are modest and allow for many dishes to be sampled.

Paella a la Valenciana ($22)

Chuleta de cordero ($20, lamb chops)

Shrimp in garlic sauce ($18)

The perfect time to come might just be weekend lunches, when the dining room is buzzing and after meals you can retire back to the bar where a busy crowd is cheering on La Liga matches.

Circulo Español Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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