I had been hearing from travelers about the wonders of Spanish cuisine for years. I finally got the chance to indulge in the real thing for myself last year. Since, then I’ve been pining for the amazing tapas I tasted in cities throughout the country and it seems that I may finally get to enjoy a taste of Spain Stateside at Racion.
While some items look to be borrowed directly from the country of origin, others look to be Spanish with a distinctly Californian twist. The charcuterie plate is reminiscent of the plates of house cured meats we enjoyed in Barcelona, while the selection of pinxtas look to have been influenced by Spain’s modern cuisine movement, although nothing too outlandish.
Run by Border Grill vets Loretta Peng and Teresa Montano, the cuisine looks to be an enthusiastic celebration of time spent in Spain. The menu is filled with enough options to make return visits and never have the same dish twice as well as a very extensive drink menu filled with Spanish libations.
According to Jonathan Gold, who honored Racion by listing it on his famous “101 Best Restaurants” List of 2013, it is best to stick to the Basque influenced dishes, including “chicken croquettes; lamb meatballs glazed with caramelized tomato sauce; tiny squid stuffed with duck sausage; Spanish cured meats; or pintxos of sliced tongue with pickled shallots.”
Although I don’t expect to find the exact same dishes I was able to enjoy in Spain (many of the ingredients seemed to be local to the region), it is nice to have a place to go to reminisce and try new riffs on what have become favorites.
I will do a follow-up post after we’ve been there and sampled their cuisine. Hem-young and Dominic enjoyed it very much, but neither were able to compare the restaurant to Spain, having not visited there yet.
Racion 119 W. Green St., Pasadena, CA 91105 (626) 396-3090 http://racionrestaurant.com