(Last Updated 8/16/2023) Description and review of Aioli Bodega Espanola, a Spanish restaurant located in the Midtown Sacramento Handle District. NEW: See “Aioli Bodega Espanola Revisited” below.
A friend and I recently met midweek to have lunch at Aioli Bodega Espanola, located in the Midtown Handle District. It had been some time since I was last there, and I was looking forward to catching up with my friend while enjoying lunch.
We arrived at 11:30 a.m. and we were immediately greeted and seated next to one of the large windows which let in the natural light. The restaurant is small and cozy, with a pleasant ambiance. We were the only patrons at that point in time.
My friend had not dined there before, so our waiter walked him through the menu – which is quite extensive. His help was much appreciated as much of the menu is in Spanish. The service throughout the meal was top-notch.
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I had a meeting to attend that evening, so I inquired about the menu del dia. The menu of the day is a three-course meal consisting of soup, a main course (fish, pasta or stew) and dessert for $15. The soup of the day was asparagus, and the dessert was Pastel de Almedras (almond cake with honey orange flower water). I love mussels, so I settled on the pasta dish – Mejillones ‘ailoi’ (mussels, garlic, sherry, cream sauce). My friend ordered the Gambas Parrilla (grilled marinated shrimp, citrus, cumin, grilled avocado, salsa fresca) ($13.95).
The creamy avocado soup was both a beautiful color and very tasty. The soup, made without cream, was topped with a drizzle of oil.
The Gambas Parrilla was served at the same time as the Mejillones ‘aioli’. The plating of the Gambas Parrilla was very attractive, and the dish was well received. My pasta dish was delicious. The pasta was al dente, the mussels were plump, and the garlic sauce was nice and garlicky – a garlic lovers delight.
Once we had finished our main courses the waiter checked in again asking if my friend would be interested in dessert. He was, and he ordered the Chocolate con Acento Frances (chocolate mousse and berries) ($7). It was a good choice. He noted that he obviously had a “star” theme going on – both the shrimp dish and dessert appeared to be shaped like a star.
My almond cake dessert was ok – but no more than that. However, I had enjoyed the soup and pasta dishes so much that I did not particularly care that the dessert fell short.
Before we left I made a point of showing my friend the small, but beautiful outside patio in back of the restaurant. It is a great place to dine on a nice summer afternoon or evening. The sun was out and I had a moment of regret that I had not asked to be seated outside.
My friend and I had been so busy catching up that it was only as we were walking out that I realized that we were still the only patrons in the establishment. Strange.
Aioli Bodega Espanola Revisited
(8/16/2023) A friend and I enjoyed a wonderful pre-theatre dinner at Aioli recently. We were actually on our way to another restaurant when we decided on the spur of the moment to check on seating availability. It was early evening and we were seated immediately.
To start, we ordered sangria ($8.5/$32.5), which we sipped while we looked over the menu. A number of dishes looked appealing. We ordered the Soup of the Day, and a dessert in addition to two tapas.
- Sopa Del Dia, Watermelon Gazpacho ($12.95)
- Gambas Parrilla (grilled marinated shrimp, citrus, cumin, grilled avocado, salsa fresca ($14.95)
- Pechuga De Pato (pan seared and braised duck breast, sherry, fennel, Swiss chard) ($17.95)
- Crema Catalana Con Naranja (orange flavored cooked cream topped with caramelized sugar ($7.00).
According to the menu, the Aioli Sangria is made from “…all natural ingredients, using our special blend of spices with no added sugar“. I personally did not care for it. The “special blend of spices” left a musty taste in my mouth. I guess I am more of a “fruity” sangria person.
While we were waiting to be served we were brought a small basket of bread served with a tasty garlic aioli. I had forgotten how good the garlic aioli is – but then I like garlic.
Other than the sangria, the rest of the meal was superb. The cold watermelon gazpacho had a drizzle of olive oil on top as well as a bit of finely chopped cucumber. It had a delicate flavor and was very light and refreshing.
The Gambas Parrilla (shrimp) was delicious, but the Pechuga De Pato (duck) was the highlight of the meal. Definitely something I would order again.
To top it all off, the Crema Catalana Con Naranja, was a fitting end to a wonderful meal.
The service at Aioli remains top notch. From the start to the finish we were very well taken care of by the friendly and efficient staff.
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Aioli Bodega Espanola Snapshot (as of 8/16/2023):
- 1800 L Street, Sacramento, CA 95811
- (916) 447-9440
- Days/Hours: Monday – Saturday (11:00 a.m. to 10:000 p.m.); Sunday (3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)
- Outdoor patio (in the back)
- Street Parking
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