It is a treat to visit a well-priced restaurant that also has real atmosphere. The historic Elliott Stables complex is the perfect setting for the European food outlets there, and you can take your pick of the central seating area or sitting inside the small restaurants themselves.
El Faro is located at the end of the main walkway, and we chose to sit inside the cosy restaurant.
The name means “the lighthouse” in Spanish, and there are a few nautical elements in the décor. The tables are small and the close spacing means that you could get to know your neighbours, but that all just adds to the charm. You can also hike up the steep staircase to another small seating area.
We were here for the tapas, but the mussel pots ($22) and beef dishes ($23) are also popular.
I think that tapas must have been invented by a woman (Okay, I do know that they were meant to be a little bite of food to go with a drink). This is just the kind of eating that women love: lots of small dishes for tasting and sharing. The variety at El Faro ranges from Panko Crumbed Avocado to Chorizo to Stuffed Dates.
My friend started the evening with a refreshing glass of Sangria ($8). Then we ordered Butter Beans with Chorizo and Jamon ($9), Sherry Mushrooms ($7), Cockles ($9) and Organic Alboraya Beef ($9) accompanied by a basket of grilled Wild Wheat bread slices and olive oil ($7).
The dishes were small but the food packed with flavour. Our favourite was the butter beans: large smooth white beans with flavour hits from the chorizo and jamon (ham). The Beef dish was like a stew, with the beef literally falling apart and in a rich tomato sauce flavoured with saffron – livened up with a grating of fresh lemon rind. The Mushrooms were rich and earthy tasting and the Cockles were small and tender. The amount of food we had for two women was totally adequate, but we could have easily devoured another dish or two, just to taste more of the amazing flavours.
The wine list is small and features Spanish sherry and wines. The cocktails are $11 and feature Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha and also Mojitos. Sangria is available by the glass or by the pitcher.
This is the perfect place to come for a bite before the theatre or a concert, after work with friends or for a fun romantic date.