Spanish cuisine adds spice to Pasadena

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Spanish cuisine adds spice to Pasadena
Posted May 8, 2006

Be ready for a taste of authentic Spanish cuisine at La Luna Negra in Pasadena. The tapas bar features many classics and has a unique feel that sets it apart from most restaurants in Pasadena.

La Luna Negra is a cross between a restaurant and a bar. The bar is along one wall and the rest of the room is dining tables and a small stage for flamenco dancers.

Both tapas and entrées are served, but I recommend coming with a group of friends and trying a variety of tapas.

The entrées are dishes like “paella,” which is a rice dish made with saffron, an assortment of vegetables and meat. Though the paella is good, it does not compete with most of the tapas I tried.

I went with four friends so I was able to try a large variety of tapas, but they were all so good I have trouble not recommending all of them.

When we were seated, our server Josh took our drink orders and brought some warm bread with tapenade. The bread and tapenade were gone within minutes and we had to ask for more. I had never enjoyed bread at a restaurant this much.

Josh came back and took our orders; I had to try the sangría, and we ordered a total of nine dishes. The sangría was good; it was not overly sweet and had a good fruit flavor.

The first tapa that came out was ceviche. It was similar to ceviche I’ve had at Mexican restaurants. The ingredients were fresh and full of flavor; it was a great dish to start with because it was light and didn’t make us full.

After the ceviche, Josh was bringing the tapas two at a time. Our whole roasted garlic and patatas bravas came out. There were three bulbs of roasted garlic served with small pieces of toast. The garlic spread like butter onto the toast, and for being such a simple dish, it was one of the best of the night. The patatas bravas, which are similar to steak fries, were spiced and cooked well.

Then came the “calamares fritos” and stuffed eggplant. The “calamares fritos,” or fried calamari, were cooked perfectly. They were tender and not chewy at all.

I’d never had eggplant before, but the stuffed eggplant blew me away. It was stuffed with wild rice and a cream sauce.

The two best dishes came out and my mouth was in heaven. If you go to La Luna Negra, you have to get the “camarones a la Barcelona” and “pincho de solomillo.” The “camarones a la Barcelona” are small sautéed shrimp wrapped in bacon served on a bed of mashed potatoes with a sweet red sauce. However simple this dish may seem, the flavors were so powerful and good, I cannot recommend them enough. The “pincho de solomillo” is beef brochette served with caramelized onions and a cream sauce. The meat was so sweet, tender and flavorful; I was saddened that I was too full to order three more dishes of it.

The “paella valenciana” came out last and was a mixture of saffron rice, seafood and chicken. We all enjoyed it, but at $19.95, it was worth two tapas and wasn’t as amazing as some of the dishes.

Prices for tapas ranged from $3.95 for the whole roasted garlic to $10.95 for pincho de solomillo.

La Luna Negra is located at 44 W. Green St. in Pasadena. La Luna Negra is closed on Mondays, but is open from 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. all other days. Be sure to make a reservation if you plan on visiting in the evening.

Eric Iberri can be reached at