New restaurants are popping up and thriving all over Detroit and La Feria’s promise of authentic Spanish tapas really got me excited. I put it on my mental list of places to visit asap. They opened in bustling Midtown Detroit back in November next to a new gelato place, Melt and my favorite Detroit shops, Nora, Hugh, Shinola, City Bird and Nest. It makes a nice destination for an afternoon of shopping and eating as long as it isn’t Monday, since most of the shops are closed on Monday.
As we ate our meal, the word “fresh” continued to come to mind. The olive oil they used was incredible and many of the marinades and sauces were bright with herbs and citrus. I also appreciated that the food was seasoned perfectly. Nothing was bland and I didn’t have to reach for several glasses of water after the meal, either.
La Feria is small and seats about 40, but on a weekday afternoon, we had no trouble getting seated right away. Our waitress was truly delightful. I instantly fell in love with her messy blonde top knot and bi-colored glasses. It’s like she came from Pinterest. No attitude came with her cute hipster looks, though. We asked for her recommendations, telling her we were open to everything. All of the tapas cook quickly, she shared with us, allowing customers to order in phases if they want. The lunch menu is divided into cold and hot tapas with soups and salads, too.
We started with two cold appetizers, the classic Tortilla Española (a Spanish omelet filled with potatoes and caramelized onion) and Pan con Tumaca y Tostada de Almogrote (toasted bread with Jámon Serrano and garlicky smashed tomato and a cured goat cheese spread). Both tapas were wonderful. I noticed the high-quality ingredients right away, making these simple bites delicious. If this was a contest between the two, which it isn’t, the Tortilla Española was our favorite. The tortilla itself had perfectly cooked tender potatoes and just enough egg to hold it together. The cured peppers and onions on top looked like a garnish afterthought at first, but it really made the dish. On the other hand, the Jámon Serrano melted in my mouth and the spreads were flavorful. Order them both.
The Mejillones del Dia (mussels of the day) were nestled in a flavorful broth of what seemed to be white wine, shallots and garlic. Pretty classic, but delicious and the best mussels I’ve had in a long time. The bowl of bread our waitress brought to the table came in handy with that broth we didn’t want to waste.
The Champiñones en Salsa Verde (or portobella mushroom in parsley, lemon and garlic sauce) was one of the vegan options on the menu. The mushroom had a lovely smoky flavor from being grilled which paired well with the bright salsa verde. It’s not the prettiest dish, but it was one of our favorites. I kept eating the mushroom slices as I was taking my photos. Marc said, “Remind me never to take you to a tapas place, again.” Noted, my love.
The Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp in garlic and chili) was good and if you love shrimp, definitely order it. It was cooked perfectly and delicious, but similar to something I make at home. The shrimp was bathed in a garlic and chili oil that was maybe my favorite thing to dip extra bread into.
The Sardinas Asadas (grilled fresh sardines with lemon and tarragon) was the star of the show for us. I never see fresh sardines on the menu and our waitress highly recommended the dish. Like the mushroom, it had the same smoky flavor from the grill and the tender meat just fell from the thin bones. We just kept saying, “wow” in between bites.
Can Detroit deliver on authentic Spanish tapas? Why yes it can! La Feria is a quaint little spot that is great for a date or meeting up with your best friend. You definitely want to go with people that are good sharers, because you’ll want a bite of everything.