by Kelly Wetherille

More times that I care to admit, I have found myself wandering through the streets of Roppongi with friends, looking for a relaxed place to get a bite to eat before moving on to whatever party, event, or gathering we’ll be attending later. And more often than not, we tend to end up at a charming little Spanish tapas bar behind the Azabu police station and across from the Piramide Building.

Upon entering Amor de Gaudí, customers are greeted by friendly staff and an authentic Spanish atmosphere. The small space is filled with tall tables and bar stools, and the walls are covered in Spanish movie posters, flags, and advertisements for concerts and bullfights. On the bar counter is a display of traditional tapas ingredients, including a leg of ibérico ham. In addition to a decent selection of reasonably-priced wines, the drink menu also includes homemade sangria in both red and white varieties.

Tapas bars have become somewhat trendy in Tokyo recently, but unlike some of those that obviously cater to a more Japanese palate, Amor de Gaudí sticks mostly with the basics. The result is simple Spanish bar food that goes well with wine and is can be enjoyed over leisurely conversation. Try the patatas bravas (fried potatoes served with a slightly spicy tomato sauce) or the gambas al ajillo (shrimp cooked in melted butter and garlic) to start with, before moving on to the more substantial fish or meat dishes. The olives and bread are complimentary, and the latter is perfect for dipping in the leftover ajillo sauce.

For those looking for a more filling meal, Amor de Gaudí also serves paella (both the traditional variety and a pasta paella, geared toward Japanese diners). Be aware that these generally take about 30 minutes to prepare, so you’ll want to whet your appetite with one of the smaller dishes while you wait.