Soon to come to the blossoming Spring Street hub is a brand new Spanish tapas restaurant called Estadio. Recently the chef of the restaurant, Alex Lira traveled to Spain to understand the magic behind traditional Spanish cooking. Now that he has returned, Estadio will be popping up in various restaurants around Charleston in order for people to get a taste of their offerings before their official opening. Last week Estadio had a pop-up event at the Harbinger Cafe in collaboration with the next-door wine shop, Monarch Wine Merchants and I decided to go check it out.
At this event, Estadio was offering up homemade, all-you-can-eat paella and mushroom toasts for just $15 and Monarch was offering up $5-$6 glasses of wine. This was a deal I knew I wouldn’t be passing up. Upon entering the cafe, I paid my $15 to the lovely owners of the Harbinger Cafe, was given a small slice of Estadio’s mushroom toast on a plate, and then went to the back of the cafe, where I found a very large pan of sizzling paella being cooked over fire, while also being topped with local shishito peppers. I couldn’t wait to dig in.
While waiting for the paella to cook, I ventured over to Monarch, where I sampled a few white Spanish wines and a few red. My favorite was ultimately the Txakolina white wine. It was tangy with a hint of sweet flavor. I had never heard of this kind of wine before, but later learned that it’s a wine that is native to the Basque region of Spain. What a perfect wine to pair with paella!
After my wine sampling, the paella was served. I ventured back over to the Harbinger, where I loaded up my plate with the still hot and sizzling paella. I went to Spain a few years ago and had paella cooked by a native, so I was quite impressed to see this paella being cooked almost the same exact way! I first tried the mushroom toast, which proved to be a stand-out appetizer. The bread was toasted to perfection, in that it wasn’t too hard to bite into, but still had a good crunch. The toppings tasted fresh and full of different flavors. Next, I dug into the large helping of paella on my plate. The first bite was an instant fusion of flavors. I tasted many different kinds of spice, a bit of heat, and a bit of sweet flavor from the shishito peppers. I later discovered that the shishito peppers were locally sourced, as will be most of the ingredients in the dishes they plan to serve. This paella was definitely winning in my book!
I could not be more excited for Estadio’s opening on Spring Street. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how much I’ve been craving more ethnic food options in Charleston, and I believe that Estadio will be a perfect contribution to the ethnic food scene. Not only are they striving to learn traditional Spanish cooking, but they are proving it is possible for Spanish cooking techniques to be learned and brought in to Southern culture.
Estadio is planning on opening at the end of the summer. Follow them on Instagram to find out where they’re popping up next!