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Special report

The Most Authentic Restaurants: Spanish

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October 9, 2005

Boston has a particularly egregious dearth of authentic Spanish restaurants, though that may soon change, as the new BarLola recently started serving tapas in the Back Bay and Ken Oringer's take on the cuisine, Toro, is set to open this fall in the South End. For now, Taberna de Haro in Brookline is as close as it gets. The airy little yellow-walled place radiates a Spanish spirit of conviviality and an infectiously energetic approach to food and wine that puts to shame what passes for tapas at other faux-Mediterranean restaurants. At Taberna de Haro, the menu draws a distinction between raciones, meant to serve three or four diners a bite or two each, and pinchos, traditionally a finger-sized portion for one but here a little bigger. The glory is in the flavors, from the fiery sauce draping the patatas bravas (potatoes), to the smoky-sweet chorizo braised in hard cider, to the tender pulpo a la gallega (octopus) with potatoes, olive oil, and pimenton. While the best-known Spanish restaurants in the area have barely changed their menus in years, Taberna de Haro introduces new items and specials regularly. That's perhaps the truest Spanish quality of all.

TABERNA DE HARO

Cuisine: Spanish/Portuguese

Address: 999 Beacon St., Brookline

Phone: 617-617-8272

Hours: Lunch: Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner: Mon.-Sat., 5:30-11:30 p.m. No reservations. No smoking.

Prices: $4-$22.

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