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Spanish exploring

September 23, 2004|Leslee Komaiko

Long before there were trendy "small plates," there were Spanish tapas. Here are five places to get your fix.

Father's Office

Unless you're into throngs of revelers, it's best to come early to this neighborhood watering hole. That way you can be sure of scoring a table, all the better to enjoy the short list of well-executed tapas such as meaty house-cured white anchovies, spicy olives or maybe a selection of Spanish chorizo. One note on service: Unless you're a regular, don't expect a lotta love.

* Tapas $4 to $8.50. 1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 393-2337.

Monsieur Marcel

Choose from more than a dozen tapas at this sweet Farmers Market bistro, including wedges of Spanish tortilla (akin to a frittata), garlicky escargots and crostini topped with flavorful Serrano ham. There are plenty of interesting wines by the glass to accompany. Dining solo? Grab a seat at the communal table or the counter.

* Tapas $6 to $8.50. 6333 W. 3rd St., L.A.; (323) 932-6855.

Alegria Cocina Latina

This colorful portside spot doesn't claim to be strictly Spanish, so we'll overlook the chunks of cheddar on the cold tapas plate. Ultimately, it's all about the scene here: live music every night, including flamenco dancers on the weekend. Order a pitcher of sangria, perhaps some calamari with romesco sauce, and Seville doesn't seem so far.

* Tapas $6.25 to $10.95.

115 Pine Ave., Long Beach; (562) 436-3388.

Firefly Bistro

Every Thursday night from 5 to 8 (to coincide with the weekly farmers market outside their doors), chefs Monique King and Paul Rosenbluh offer "world tapas" under the tent at this charming spot. The menu changes weekly but might include a crispy duck leg with hush puppies, a salad of smoked fish or fat onion rings with a dipping sauce.

* Tapas $2.50 to $5. 1009 El Centro St., South Pasadena; (626) 441-2443.

Cobras & Matadors Los Feliz

Expect a lively buzz at this sexy spinoff of the Beverly Boulevard restaurant. To nibble, there are irresistibly crunchy lake smelt, tender chickpea cakes called socca and a delicious saute of lentils with Serrano ham. Forty Spanish wines are offered by the glass.

* Tapas $5 to $13. 4655 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; (323) 669-3922.

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