After a trip to Spain, restaurateurs Mark and Terri Stark decided to bring the concept of true Spanish tapas to Sonoma County, opening Bravas bar de Tapas in late 2012.

Now well-established in the Healdsburg restaurant scene, the expansive patio is a year-round draw for Sangria, cider, wine and cocktails with served with bites of paper-thin Iberico ham and Manchego cheese, tuna belly salad, mushroom escabeche, bacon wrapped dates with blue cheese and Marcona almonds and

The menu is expensive, so come hungry. 

So what’s tapas?

Spanish for “cover”, it originally referred to slices of bread, meat and cheese served atop a glass of wine or sherry to keep the flies out of your cocktail (or so the legend goes).

Now its anything served on a saucer-sized plate — from sushi to nachos. And folks, that ain’t tapas.

At Bravas, it is best to order a few cold tapas and a few warm, along with bocadillos (or little sandwiches) That’s the whole point, sharing and tasting with your fellow eaters. We love roasted red beets with cinnamon, goat cheese toast, duck meatballs, long-cooked pork cheeks, foie gras with orange marmalade and the required Patatas Bravas–fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and aioli.

Heartier dishes cooked on a flat griddle called a plancha include Monterey Calamari with lemon ($10.50), fresh Gulf prawns ($15), skirt steak with red onion marmalade, pimenton chicken thighs and smother pork riblets.

Family style plates — appropriate for several eaters –include a whole crispy skin Mt. Lassen Trout ($32), Tomahawk coffee crusted certified Angus beef ($72) and fried chicken with mumbo sauce ($28)

It’s a menu filled with brassy, bold flavors that do the cha-cha through your mouth and leave no question that you’ll need a breath mint or two before getting familiar with friends or co-workers. In a good way.

A departure from the usual Wine Country lineup, the basic building blocks of the menu (shrimp, pig ears, fried duck eggs, Dungeness crab, sardines, skirt steak, seafood ceviche) are ingredients the Starks have a proven track record of cooking to perfection at their other restaurants (Willi’s Wine Bar, Willi’s Seafood, Monti’s, Stark’s Steak and Seafood and Bird and Bottle).

Jamon in!

Bravas Bar de Tapas, 420 Center St., Healdsburg, 707-433-7700, starkrestasurants.com/stark-restaurant/bravas-bar-de-tapas.

Lauded as…
One of the top 20 tapas restaurants in the U.S.” –Travel + Leisure

“Top 100 Bay Area Restaurant, 2013, 2014, 2015” — San Francisco Chronicle