It's no wonder restaurants of all cuisines are appropriating the small plates format of Spanish tapas. The variety of dishes and the casual, convivial atmosphere they encourage make it the best way to eat. So it's not surprising that Patanegra, named for the finest grade of Spain's vaunted cured ham, is an exceedingly pleasant place to eat. There's a tangible sense of excitement as dishes arrive one after another. The ample ramekin of pimentos del Padrón—mild, bite-sized Spanish peppers—are proof that good olive oil, sea salt and heat are all you need to be happy. Tender, grilled baby squid defies any chewy preconceptions and proves that even with invertebrates, babies taste better than adults. Salt cod fritters are addictive crunchy tidbits—classic tapas. And no visit would be complete without a bite of namesake ham; try the cured-meats platter for a tour of Spanish charcuterie. And plenty of wine with everything.

Order this: Baby squid and anything with ham.
Best deal: Sharable portion of Padrón peppers
I'll pass: Chorizo with cider felt heavy and salty.