Santa Monica has seen Spanish restaurants come and go (RIP Bar Pintxo), but now there’s a tapas spot from the chef behind Gasoline Cafe that pops off regularly and belongs in any Westsiders’ date night rotation. Unlike the flashy Spanish restaurants in town that charge you $15 for three garlicky prawns, Xuntos leans more casual with its menu and ambiance. Expect a mix of people wearing jeans and dissecting their workdays as well as glammed-up cliques grabbing dinner before a BNO. Standard tapas are tasty, if not a little simple: teeny-tiny jamón croquetas, two bites’ worth of pan con tomate you’ll forget by the time the check arrives. Opt for regional dishes that you’d see on a José Andrés travel special: scallops on the half shell bathed in saffron butter, crumbly Galician empanadas stuffed with tuna, and fried anchovies that go well with cold Basque cider. True to form, all the dishes are small. Order two or three things per person and you should be set for a good night.

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