Located on Vitastígur, (a side street off Laugavegur), Valencia Tapas Bar opened its doors a little over a month ago. As the name implies, the place celebrates the beloved Spanish tapas culture and is owned by a perky Spaniard, Diego Valencia, who not only manages the place but serves as the chef as well. Diego is a man of many talents and proudly told my companion and me that when the mood feels right, he offers his guests live music as the singer of a notorious flamenco duo.
At Valencia, there is no written menu. The daily specials are pre-prepared and the selection consists of around ten tapas classics (two vegetarian and one meat dish cost 1700 ISK.) We grabbed a table upstairs and sampled a mix of six different dishes. The dancing flames from the fireplace not only warmed our freezing hands but created a pleasant atmosphere while all the colourful paper fans adorning the walls let our minds wander to the warmer South.
Our favourite was the Spanish omelette, a recipe that never fails to please. With chunks of potatoes, onion and red peppers it was delicious, as was the Andalusian salad with salted cod, potatoes, boiled eggs, onion and oranges. The salad was especially fresh, although it could have benefited from a little more fish. Mushrooms, sautéed in lime-juice scored highly and the artichokes with olives, basil and parmesan cheese more than satisfied. We later used the bread served on the side to soak up all the flavourful oil left on the plate and washed it down with our San Miguel. We found the pieces of chicken breasts in olive oil and garlic a bit boring though, and the tuna salad was sadly not very interesting.
Valencia is best described as a cosy bar that offers light appetizers and is recommended for both relaxed evenings or as a first stop before bar-hopping. If in the mood to sample some food to accompany your drink and to share with your company, as is so popular in Spain, the place is worth a try. Expect to get basic and unpretentious tapas where the combinations are simple yet flavoursome.