Arlington / Spanish / $$$
The short ribs arrive in a fluffy pool of potato foam. The revuelto de setas is a mound of tender mushrooms holding a cured egg yolk and punctuated by shards of shaved duck liver. The chuletón de buey is a shareable portion of 45-day-aged rib-eye that servers finish with a blowtorch at the table. If this isn’t a temple to Spanish gastronomy, what is?
But SER is many things to many people. At lunchtime, bocadillos, or sandwiches, are served tucked into crusty bread that’s wrapped in paper like street food. The Pepito de Ternera is especially pleasing, a combination of toothsome grilled beef, silky piquillo peppers, nutty manchego cheese, and smoky paprika mayo.
SER can also be a place to hang at the bar over a sweet, satisfying sangria that’s filled with fruit. It’s a great location for a date, but also a proving ground to see if your paramour can return serve over a series of unusual plates, from crispy mini squid in habanero-lemon aioli to whole roasted rabbit with apricot sauce.
See this: Though it feels like what it is, a busy restaurant in a city, this only serves to transport you to Barcelona, complete with hanging ham beckoning.
Eat this: Puntillitas, presa de cerdo Ibérico ahumada, goxua
Service: This is a staff that knows food and wine and wants to share its passion.
When to dine here: You and your date aren’t ready for a vacation together, but for now, this is close enough.