15, rue Desnouettes, in the 15th Arrondissement.
01 48 42 95 90. Lunch and dinner Tues–Sat.
I love tapas. I don’t know if that means I’m a bit fickle, since I’d rather eat a little bit of everything than one of the same thing in any restaurant in Paris—or in or out of Spain, for that matter. I prefer to think it means I love food so much that I want to sample as many different things as I can. Whether you’re fickle or not, Afaria offers a perfect dining experience with a Basque-inspired tapas menu.
Afaria arrived in Paris long before the popular tapas restaurant Dans Les Landes was even a thought. In fact, Julien Duboué is the man behind both restaurants, but it all began with Afaria in 2007.
We were a group of 10 and thus able to reserve the high-top table that takes over most of the front room near the bar. Tables dot the sidewalk outside on a nice day, and a full restaurant sits in back, where you can order from a bistro menu. But the 10 of us were in for the 38-euro tapas menu, which includes a choice of mains and desserts.
Chipirones (baby squid).
The tapas came out at a good pace with nice presentation. There was soft, thinly sliced ham peeking out of a wooden shoe. Next came crispy fried-fish croquettes, which were salty and crunchy and a nice companion to our white sangria. A second wooden shoe brought more fried fun with chipirones, or baby squid, lightly battered and fully delicious. A fluffy Spanish omelet was delivered with a fresh drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of green onions on top. The delicately cooked duck hearts (passed up by a few people too nervous to try) were tender and served in a garlicky persillade that had me fighting for bread to dip in the luscious sauce.
The main most people went for was the magret de canard, which is presented as a large rack in a long wooden serving plate, smoke still wafting. I’ve had this duck at Dans Les Landes and it’s well worth it, but the Thai shrimp salad was the other choice and a new addition I was keen on trying. The salad included well-dressed greens, carrots and grilled shrimp in a tangy sauce that left me content while my comrades tore at the duck on the table.
My dessert of rice pudding was a sort of do-it-yourself setup, with small saucepans of rather liquidy pudding served alongside miniature pitchers of supersweet caramel sauce. It was all a bit too much for me. The cheesecake turned out to be the winning dessert. It came in a mason jar with a crumbly crust bottom, nearly airless cheesecake in the middle and a fresh peach layer on top.
My fickle self will always be happy eating in a place like this.
In a nutshell:
Come to Afaria with a group ready to sample and share a variety of unique and flavorful Basque-inspired tapas.
: Lunch and dinner menus up to 38 euros each; individual small plates, 7–22 euros.
If you like the sound of Afaria but want your tapas in the 5th
, try Julien Duboué’s other tapas spot, Dans Les Landes. Read the review.
Dans Les Landes
119 bis, rue Monge, in the 5th.
01 45 87 06 00. Tues–Sat, noon–11 p.m.
: For a gourmet walking trip, check out our DIY downloadable Paris trips.