After many years of meaning to, and never doing, I finally got to Spain Restaurant on West 13th Street.
In business since 1960, this place is one of our surviving classics, filled with that heavy, dark Spanish style of the mid-twentieth century. Think conquistadors and bullfighters, flamenco dancers with high and lacy combs in their hair. Think blood-red tablecloths, brick walls, and dark wood furnishings.
The bartenders wear red jackets and black bow ties. They speak Spanish.
Your best bet is to sit at the bar, order a drink, and enjoy your complementary tapas. With every drink, you get a new plate. I got delicious meatballs, potatoes, sausages, and more potatoes. You can live off this strategy very nicely for a night. For heartier fare, the chicken and rice will fill you up.
On the early side, the place is quiet, but soon the gangs of hipsters come in--a surprising sight--they must come from the dorms on the block, the New School around the corner. They crowd around the bar and get loud. This is clearly their regular spot, and if they're helping to keep Spain alive, good on them. But go early to avoid the jostling.