What to Eat at Txikito

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Last night at 7:30 p.m., there was a half-hour wait at Boqueria Soho but empty tables at Txikito. Truth is, we wouldve opted for the latter anyway, since weve been fervently awaiting Alex Raijs return to form, and were not the only ones, since the room was full by 8 p.m. Yes, the boxy, 28-seat space is small, but its a veritable aircraft-carrier mess hall compared to El Quinto Pino. The dcor is simple: barn wood on the ceilings and walls, bright blue paint and aquagreen tiles, and lighting fixtures that resemble oversize thumbtacks. Small bar up front. And the food is fantastic. If youre looking for something light and delectable, go for the octopus carpaccio. If its heartiness you want, the Txarripatak has it by the fatty gobs. Another standout: the house-cured cod that's dotted with lightly fried morsels of headcheese. We didnt eat anything that blew us away like El QPs uni panini did, but there are plenty of things to entice a return visit, as you can see from the menu below.

From the bar
Olibar (olive) - $4
Patatas (potato chips) - $3

Pintxoak (Basque canaps)
Boqueron (marinated white anchovy, eggplant, piquillo) - $7
Foie Micuit (homemade foie gras terrine) - $12
Pastel de Pescado (homemade fish pate) - $7
Txiki Txanpi (mini mushroom and shrimp grilled cheese) - $8
Marijuli (sweet pepper, tomato, jamon, Basque anchovy) - $8
Bolomo (house cured pork loin, roasted green pepper) - $7
Arraultza (sofrito, palacios chorizo, quail egg) - $8
Atuna (little sandwich of Basque tuna, piquillo oil, sweet onion) - $7
Tutera (gratin of artichoke, Rancal, jamon) - $8
Txitxiki (crispy sandwich of homemade chorizo hash) - $8

Hotzak (Cold items)
Rusa (classic Russian salad, potato, imported tuna, homemade mayo) - $9
Cogollos (Butter lettuce, Basque anchovy, Bonito del Norte) - $14
Eskarola (frisee, garlic infused olive oil, sea salt, parsley) - $11
Pulpo (Octopus Carpaccio, lemon oil, mayonnaise, Pimente despilette) - $15
Porruak (poached Navarran leeks, celery black truffle vinaigrette, chopped egg) - $13
Mejillon (marinated mussels, piquillo puree) - $8
Lekak (tender green beans, golden garlic, olive oil) - $9

Beroak (Hot items)
Morcilla (crispy blood sausage filled bundles) - $8
Piperrak (blistered peppers with sea salt) - $9
Kroketas (crispy creamy croquettes) - $5
Pikillo (sweet peppers of Lodosa in natural juices, olive oil, garlic) - $13
Patatas Mentaiko (crisp fries w/spicy cod roe mayo) - $8
Bakailoa (house cured salt cod with crispy headcheese) - $15
Pil Pil (legendary Basque salt cod, poached in olive oil w/ kokotxas) - $18
Ajoarriero (pasta filled with salt cod stew) - $16
Extebarri Gulak (house smoked mock elvers) - $14
Txipiron Encebollado (squid ribbons a la plantxa w/ sweet onion and pine nuts) - $16
Gambak (flash fried head-on shrimp) - $9
Txangurra (Crabmeat gratin) - $15
Lengua (crispy beef tongue) - $17)
Chuletillas (lamb chops a la plantxa w/ watercress, lemon juice, sea salt) - $19
Albondigas (meatballs with classic shellfish sauce) - $12
Txilindron (spicy cross-cut pork spare ribs) - $11
Bocata (warm sandwich of unsmoked bacon, melted cheese) - $10
Txarripatak (trotters and tripe w/beef tendon, chickpea, chorizo pepper) - $15

Txikito, 240 Ninth Ave., nr. 25th St.; 212-242-4730