Salero: Better-Than-Barcelona Paella

It’s Friday! And I’m still full from dinner last night. Yes, you read that headline right. Last night, I ate the best paella I ever have had in my life, and it was at a new Spanish tapas restaurant in the West Loop here in Chicago. Salero, in their own words, “offers an upscale, yet casual dining experience devoting its concept to the flavors of Spain, specifically the Basque region.” In my own words, this is a damn delicious tapas restaurant that is worth trekking over to the West Loop for. I really liked the atmosphere when I first walked in. It’s pretty bare bones- gray/neutral tones, minimal wall art, but it all comes together nicely with the beautiful ceiling and wood tables. This isn’t a white table-cloth place at all- it would be great for a group get together- plus, they have a great selection of wine.

Last night it was four of us, and we got four tapas to start which we all happily shared. My favorites out of all of them were the burrata and the hake a la plancha. The hake dish was a piece of flaky white fish, clams, and veggies in a delicious broth. It was really light and was a great seafood option. The fish was cooked perfectly. The burrata, as burrata usually is, was creamy and spreadable. They gave us a piece of charred bread to enjoy the cheese with, as well as some fresh veggies to cut the richness. It was a great way to start the meal. But then. The room became still as the waitress brought out a giant cast iron skillet of paella. I’m just kidding, that’s dramatic. But this is worth the praise.

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The rice was the ideal texture- it was almost like risotto, but my boyfriend said it was even a little creamier than that. The color of the dish comes from the saffron that is traditionally used in Spanish paella. It makes the dish have a really different depth of flavor than plain old rice. The protein in the dish included shrimp, clams, chicken, and a spicy sausage. They all complimented each other really well- the spicy sausage combined with seafood flavors of the clams and shrimp, mixed with the creamy rice and the aioli in the middle was incredible. Needless to say, we were incredibly satisfied with our meal, and this is a dish I would absolutely go back for. We finished off the meal with churros, a classic end to a Spanish meal, and they were fresh out of the fryer, covered in cinnamon sugar. Thank god I worked out this morning!

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Salero from now on will be on the top of my list if I’m in the mood for solid tapas. What are your favorite Spanish restaurants?

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