The Dish: Como Taperia Goes Fishing for Tapas

Sardines in a can at the Main Street haunt will have you hooked. 

Sardines in a can at the Main Street haunt will have you hooked. 

Tapas. Has there ever been another word that’s suffered as much indignity at the hands of  North Americans? A small plate of Buffalo wings? Call ’em tapas, people will think they’re exotic. Nachos, mozzarella poppers, dry-roasted peanuts? Tapas, tapas, tapas. And don’t get us started on the mortal sin that is the word tapatizer.

Luckily, salvation has arrived in the form of Como Taperia opened by industry vets Shaun Layton (L’Abattoir), Frankie Harrington (Meat and Bread) and chef Justin Witcher (Clayoquot Wilderness Resort), who are here to restore dignity to the Spanish art of small plates, one conserva at a time.

Credit: Marlon Soriano

What you need to know about Como:

In Spain, there’s a long tradition of canning pristine seafood and charging a premium for it.

Como employs a tapas jockey whose sole job is to crack tins for hungry customers.

In addition to sardines, Como offers anchovies, razor clams, octopus, squid, tuna and scallops.

Como has six gin and tonics on the menu (a Spanish fave), but by far the most popular accompaniment has been the Tio Pepe Fino sherry on tap.

The classic presentation for sardines is with patate frito (potato chip) and a dash of hot sauce (the boys use Spanish staple Espinaler).

The conservas aren’t cheap. Prices start at $16 and go way up. But they’re actually marked up less than almost anything else on the menu. They just cost a lot to bring in.