photo credit: Noah Devereaux
If people actually had meet-cutes, there would be no need for dating apps. If getting your roommate to pay you back for the last eight packages of toilet paper was easy, you wouldn’t need Venmo. And if there were places like Huertas around to solve every dinner problem, you wouldn’t need us.
But there aren’t a lot of places like Huertas. Which is why I have a job, and why you need to know that this restaurant could very well be the answer to your group dinner plans.
Huertas feels like a place you’d find in another city. A city where you don’t encounter two-hour waits for tables, and where you can actually move your elbows without touching a stranger during your meal. For the East Village especially, this place is big - with a full bar area, two giant booths overlooking the open kitchen, and a back dining room. Same-day reservations are often available, and you shouldn’t have to wait too long if you’re walking in - it gets busy, but not slammed.
While “we can actually get in” and “we can actually be comfortable” and “we can sit in a booth” are compelling reasons to eat at a restaurant, the food at Huertas also makes it a great spot for a group dinner. From the classic patatas bravas to the saffron rice with shrimp and bacon to the octopus, all of the Spanish share plates here are delicious, satisfying, and most importantly, big enough that you can actually share them. Although you might want to get two of the off-menu hot dogs. No one wants less than half a hot dog.
The one section of the menu that might require doubling up is the pinxtos (Basque-style bites), which are ordered individually. Or, just order the Pinxto Me, which gets you all six. There’s also a full section of conservas, or seafood tins, which are a fun addition if your group can get down with things like black anchovies with quail egg or sardines and radishes.
Depending on how much you like the group you’re eating with, you might wish that one of you had an apartment big enough (and cooking skills good enough) that you could all just sit around in someone’s living room, instead of in a restaurant. But that’s another reason we like Huerta’s so much for this situation - you can tell they actually care that you have a good experience. The servers are genuinely friendly, the cocktails are great (we like the refrescos, which you could drink for hours and not be extremely hungover for your 9am tomorrow), and they do things like half-off all pinxtos on Tuesday nights. Plus, tipping is included, which makes the decision to just split your check into six credit cards that much simpler.
You should come to Huerta’s when you’re looking for a neighborhood spot that’ll make it easy for you to just hang with your friends, instead of worrying whether you ordered enough food or whether your glass of wine is actually going to ever make it to the table. As for that conversation you’re all dreading having with Eliza about how none of you are going to her wedding in Bratislava? Afraid we don’t have an easy solution for that.
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This is the full set of Huertas’ pinxtos, which change from time to time. We recommend you kick off your meal with the full set, but if you want to double down on a few we especially like the foie gras, the croquettes, and the pork melt, which is basically the sandwich we want for lunch every day.
Huertas’ patatas bravas are every bit as good as you want them to be.
Potato strips and chorizo, with a poached egg on top. Toss the whole thing together and it’s kinda like a Spanish carbonara. If you feel the need to choose between the potato dishes, don’t.
A pile of saffron fried rice with bacon, shrimp, peas, and aioli. It’s certainly big enough to share with a group, but it’s also addictive. You will want to sequester yourself in the corner of the booth so you can be alone with it.
This is basically cheese, with some leaves, which is how all salads should be. It’s a nice way to break up the heavier stuff on the table, but it tends to be pretty salty, if that’s a problem for you.
If you’re the person in the group who usually says “Should we get the octopus?,” what you should be saying here is “We should get the octopus.” It comes with several very good tentacles over more potatoes.
Round out the chorizo and octopus from your other dishes with this steak. It’s really good, and also pretty affordable ($26).