NAI TAPAS-BAR “A Taste of Spain “

by Zeitlin Perez

Ruben Rodriguez – Chef/Owner

Nai Tapas Bar  opened its first location in the East Village neighborhood of New York City on November 15th 2010. The venue has a cozy look and can seat up to seventy-four guests decorated with family art inspired by the owner Ruben Rodriguez ‘s homeland of Spain. Ruben honors his heritage by creating a menu featuring traditional tapas from Galicia, specifically the family recipes from his grandmother Emilia Arias and his mother Ana Maria Gonzalez Arias with his own version of modern tapas.

Nai which is the word for “mother” in Gallego a native dialect in Spain, has a special signature dish called

Gambas Al Ajillo

“Gambas al Ajillo” a traditional shrimp in garlic sauce with its flavorful seasoning which immediately jumps out your palette followed by a cozy, warm, home feeling of  indulging on a  meal prepared by a “special”  person in your life. Rodriguez is always looking for nuances to incorporate to the menu however he says “it’s a challenge going outside of traditional tapas recipes”. Rodriguez brings inventive ways to transform familiar foods without losing its essence, like “Esferificacion de Aceituna” otherwise known as olive spherification is a on-bite treat that is like a wake up call for your palette and prepares you for the rest of the delicious choices on the menu. Nai Tapas Bar also offers fifty-six sangria mixes to choose from and a wide selection of wine and beer both from Spain to compliment any dish you order.

Esferification de Aceituna

Esferification de Aceituna .

This Fall Nai Tapas Bar  will be expanding to a second level with additional seating to service a growing customer base who are discovering dishes like “Salmorejo Canario” marinated baby back ribs with cabrales (Spanish Bleu cheese) potatoes and fried peppers; to “Tostada de Lubina” a Chilean sea bass wrapped in toast topped over an orange emulsion and balsamic reduction drizzled with saffron salt and “Aguacate Relleno” avocado stuffed with crab-meat sprinkled with serrano ham to name a few.


Salmorejo Canario

The experience is enhanced musically  weekly with a  Flamenco show every Thursdays & Saturdays. The traditional dancer and musicians give you a “taste” of what a night in Spain would sound like.  If you’re planning  a visit to the island of  Puerto Rico and nai-tapas-bara fan of Nai Tapas Bar you are covered! There is a Nai Tapas Bar in San Juan, PR in the Condado area, so pay them a visit. If you love Ruben Rodriguez’ artistry with cuisine he is also opening up an extension of Nai Tapas Bar around the corner on 10th Street which will be Rodriguez’ playhouse for street food, high-end experimental tastings and a short menu. He is all about the “what’s next” factor with food and keeping passionate about his craft, staying true to his grandmother’s advice “Con Xeito” (con-sceito) which means “always do things with passion”. 
Nai Tapas Bar – 174 First Avenue (Between 10th & 11th Streets) New York, NY 10009 Website:
For Reservations: (212) 677-1030
Hours: Mon-Wed: 5pm -11pm Thurs-Sat: 5 pm – Midnight Sun: 5 pm-10 pm Sat-Sun: 12:00 Noon- 4 pm (Lunch)


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