Table for two: Viva Madrid serves up some Spanish delicacies

With the weather warming up, reminiscent of Spain’s Mediterranean climate we all find ourselves fantasizing about European vacations luckily, with Viva Madrid’s authentic atmosphere, you can get a little taste of Spain right in your own backyard.

Nestled in a dark hallway in the Claremont Village, lies a mysterious gem called Viva Madrid. This well kept secret has been pumping out traditional Spanish tapas since April Fools Day, 1990.

 As you step through Viva’s antique-looking wood door, you are transported to a different time and place. The atmosphere is dark and romantic with whimsical touches, like the large collection of wine bottles, and an extravagant chandelier.

The menu, much like the restaurant, is intriguingly foreign—with offerings ranging from oxtail stew to squid cooked in its own ink. However, the extensive menu offers an array of options suitable for any palette.

Guests order by a number system, which is useful when ordering a large number of the small tapas they offer. With some suggestions from waitress Amy Vitko and COURIER Managing Editor Kathryn Dunn, we decided on #18 Jamon Y Queso, a lovely plate of Serrano ham, lomo, machego cheese, black and green olives, bread and oil and vinegar for dipping. The ham was to die for and paired perfectly with the selection of cheeses.

Next up we got #34 Patatas Bravas, a very popular dish of fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce. Owner Laura Caley told us that the sauce is traditionally much more mild but that she kicked it up to suit the local sensibilities.

Before we had even arrived we knew there were two things that we had to have: sangria and bacon wrapped dates. We experienced Viva Madrid’s life changing bacon wrapped dates at the COURIER’s party parade event and have been dreaming of them ever since. As for the sangria, even if you have never been to Viva Madrid there is a good chance that you have heard of their legendary libation. They generally offer two varieties of sangria one made with white wine and one made of red. But on Wednesday night they were serving up a special pomegranate sangria. Both of us being huge pomegranate fans, we quickly ordered a carafe.

Even with its secluded location, Viva Madrid was packed. Ms. Caley informed us that this hadn’t always been the case. In the beginning it was hard for people to find. One time a critic from Zagat came to rate them, but declared the restaurant out of business when they couldn’t find the location. But by word of mouth and some very loyal customers, Viva has become a local favorite.

If you are looking to spice up your night, drop by Viva Madrid at 225 Yale Ave., Claremont, located behind 42 Street Bagel.