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Chelsea is a challenging neighborhood when it comes to eating. We're usually only here because a large group of females we know felt like eating tapas - and this is where large groups of females go to eat tapas. Why on earth are there so many Spanish joints in Chelsea? Needless to say it's rare that you'll find us traveling out of our way to check out a new Chelsea spot (and a Spanish one at that), but after some glowing recommendations from The Infatuation Nation, we jumped on the A train to Salinas. And damn, we're glad we did.

When I first walked into Salinas, I was actually bummed. The front lounge has "this restaurant is terrible" written all over it. Luckily though, what initially appeared to be a run of the mill, corny tapas joint turned out to be anything but. The Outdoor/Patio Situation at Salinas is absolutely insane - like it's pulled right out of a brochure for a Mediterranean resort. A retractable, glass roof houses one of the most impressive gardens in all of Manhattan, which features an outdoor fireplace that will make the space equally cozy during the winter.

While the setting is nice, it's the food and the service that earn this place The Infatuation seal of approval. Pretty much everything we tasted was excellent, and the flavors were both exotic and unique. Our server was on point, knew the menu inside and out, and steered us to the perfect dinner promised land. At the end of the meal, the chef also came by (as he apparently does with every table) to go over some of the dishes and thank us for coming. That's a nice touch.

With all the Spanish food in this 'hood it's a big statement to make, but there is no better restaurant to get your Español on than Salinas.

Food Rundown

Pa Amb Oli
We love a good bruschetta, and Salinas certainly has one. Finely chopped tomatoes glisten in olive oil, garlic, and sea salt, and are served on crispy country bread. Order this.

Jamón Serrano
A mandatory start to any good Spanish feast, this twelve month dry cured Serrano ham hit the spot and had us ready for more.

Langostinos Al Ajillo
One of the specialty dishes at Salinas. These head-on shrimp have a great garlicky, lemon-zesty taste to them, and are served with white wine and mushrooms. It's delicious.

Rosejat Rápida
As gushed about above, this is the dish, as long as you're cool with a heavy dose of saffron. It's a paella-like item made up of fried noodles instead of rice, and loaded with chunks of chorizo, chicken, and cockles. Get it.

The most expensive dish on the menu ($44), but this huge, slow-roasted suckling pig is fun for the whole table. The crisp outside had all kinds of flavor, and we were big fans of the watercress and frisée salad that came with it, as well as the grilled apricots.

Scallops & Pork Belly
This special was just OK. The scallops were big, but a little dry and overcooked. The pork belly, however, was impeccable. More pork belly please.

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