Thanks for all the tips you guys! I'm going to try out Cafe Iberico tonight. Will report back.
Here's my report as promised.
The place does not take reservations, but the wait for a table around 8pm on a Wednesday was not bad - 10 minutes. We were seated in the middle of a rambunctious but barely decorated dining room at a smallish table. The room was full and the decibel level was high enough for us to have to practically shout to each other to be heard. No biggie - I'm no stranger to these kinds of conditions, although I always do appreciate when the restaurant takes the trouble to provide a bit of atmosphere and reduce the noise level by covering the walls with fabric or other sound reducing material.
We got a pitcher of red sangria, which I thought was good and realized towards the end of the evening was also quite potent. The menu had pictures of the dishes next to the descriptions, which is never a sign of a classy joint, not that this place had any pretensions to class. The list of dishes wasn't too extensive so we didn't take long to choose 7 small plates to share. I'll describe one at a time:
1. ENSALADA DE PIMIENTOS ASADOS $4.95
Three-color fire roasted peppers with olive oil and toasted bread.
The agreement at the table was that the roasted peppers were good, albeit a bit oily, but the bread wasn't.
2. TERNERA ASADA $5.95
Roasted veal served cold with raspberry vinaigrette.
I liked the veal. It was tender, thinly cut and not dry. However, I didn't taste any raspberry vinaigrette, only a citrusy reduction of some sort. Also, the veal was sprinkled with shavings of what looked to be mozzarella, which did not add anything to the dish.
3. PATATAS BRAVAS $4.95
Spicy potatoes with special tomato sauce.
Bitter disappointment. I was very much craving these and all I got was something I can't even describe as patatas bravas. The potatoes were soggy, mushy, covered with a pasty, completely spiceless tomato sauce and looked like they were just pulled out of a microwave after re-heating attempt number 5. A shame. Also, we initially ordered 2 portions of these for the table, but the waiter came back and told us that he eliminated one of the orders because there was a back-up in the kitchen. I thought that was pretty cheeky of the guy, but in the end I was happy we weren't stuck with 2 orders.
4. QUESO DE CABRA $6.95
Baked goat cheese with fresh tomato basil sauce.
This I thought was good, but the rest of our table didn't have much enthusiasm for it. It was basically a round of soft backed goat cheese surrounded by tomato sauce. Very down-to-earth but satisfying dish. Too bland for some perhaps, but I like bland on occasion.
5. CALAMARES A LA PLANCHA $5.95
Grilled squid with olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.
I liked this dish as well and so did my friends. Nothing spectacular about it, but the squid was not over-cooked, had a good amount of that smokiness from the grilling and was well seasoned. I wished there was a bit more of the squid and a bit less of the oil.
6. PULPO A LA PLANCHA $7.95
Grilled octopus with potatoes and olive oil.
This in my opinion was the winner of the evening. The octopus had great chewy texture and miniature fries were a good accompaniment.
7. PINCHO DE POLLO $4.95
Chicken brochette with caramelized onions and rice.
My friends ordered this dish. I did not try it since they said it was not good and I was already full.
I wasn't too full for desert though. We ordered:
1. FILLOA DE HELADO Y CREMA $ 3.95
Stuffed crepe with ice cream topped with whipped cream and strawberry sauce.
This dish is certainly for sharing. I would think it could easily satisfy 3 people. And satisfy it did, with yummy vanilla ice cream dripping out of a tasty crepe and covered with whipped cream. Who can resist?
2. CRÉMA CATALANA $ 3.95
Catalonian style cream custard covered with hard caramel.
This is essentially a Crème Brûlée, which last night was infused with white chocolate. It was very nice I thought.
Overall, Cafe Iberico was by far not all that I hoped for, but it wasn't a revolting or frustrating experience. I think it would gain greatly by improvement in the atmosphere. Is it worth a trip back? Frankly, not any time soon.