truly "in the game" with Chicago, D.C., and Portland, if not New York and L.A.?
Sprawling across several storefronts, its elegant interior brick-walled and open, it manages to feel like both a church transept and an old-world wine cave. A dark floral mosaic on one wall sets a dramatic tone. Long bins of fruit slices lining the bar, servers hoisting elaborate multispout porron-style wine decanters, and standing half-carved dark red hams give you a peek at the menu before you're even seated.
Lots of local places offer small plates--some with Euro and even Latin flair--but none match Aventura for real-deal tapas building blocks like Spanish olives, cheeses (sheep, cow, and goat), and charcuterie (Iberico and Serrano ham, dry salami, and sausages galore). If you're new to the cuisine, there are oodles of bilingual menu items to peruse and discuss. Even more helpful are the knowledgeable servers (they take twelve-page tests!), who will likely suggest you lubricate the ordering process with a Spanish-style cocktail, like the sherry-tinged rye whiskey Olor Oso Conmigo with housemade fig syrup and a lovely sage leaf floating atop. It's good, but even better is the Aventura take on the centuries-old Sazerac that combines a swirl of absinthe with whiskey and bitters for a glorious magenta powerhouse of a drink. Also available are a wide selection of wines by the glass.