So, today I decided to try a little place by campus. Again, in Brookside ... right across from Domo, actually.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Fabulous tapas. Fabulous prices. Fabulous staff.
Let's start with a little education for those who are asking, "What the hell are tapas?!"
Tapas (n.) - Small plates of food intended to be shared among multiple diners. Often "bite-sized". Carmen's offers an impressive selection of exotic and delicious tapas and Italian entrees and does it cheap! Every college student's dream. Social food that won't cost and arm and a leg. And cheap doesn't mean dive-y. The atmosphere was warm and fancy -- just like the service.
I was dining alone in the middle of the afternoon, so I elected to sit at the bar. The bartender promptly placed a white napkin as a place mat and furnished the setting with utensils, water, bread and warm butter. I have no bigger pet-peeve than being served cold fricking butter with bread. I don't have laser vision! How am I supposed to spread that?!!!! So, already I was satisfied. The service didn't stop there. Throughout my meal the staff was attentive and inviting.
So, I ordered these stuffed raviolis in a cream sauce and a stuffed artichoke appetizer. Confession: I have no idea how to eat an artichoke whole. I'm sure I looked like an idiot. That said, I can't comment on how it was prepared, but the stuffing was scrumptious. I got the bread stuffing, but I have this feeling that the crab stuffing is just heavenly. The raviolis - a tapas selection - were savory and the flavors were perfectly balanced. I could have eaten six plates of just those. It's the kind of food you just want to wrap yourself up in.
The rest of the menu is stacked with delectable, traditional, pasta-based Italian dishes and saucy tapas whose descriptions caused me to salivate. I mean that quite literally. I was nearly drooling.
Another thing I think is worth mentioning. From my seat I could see the behind the bar food prep area. It was pristine. (This is something always worth noting in a restaurant. If a food prep area is visible, take the time to look at it. If it looks gross, be wary. If you can't scout it out, the restrooms are usually a good indicator of a restaurants standard of cleanliness.) That kind of thing really reinforces the evidence of how much pride the employees at Carmen's take in their work.
I would take just about anyone here. Tapas are GREAT for dates. Talking about what food to share helps you get to know someone and takes a little pressure off grasping for topics to converse over. Great atmosphere, great people, great food. There is something on the menu for everyone. You won't be leaving feeling like you got robbed. It is just all wins!
Hope I've helped you find a new date night/lunch spot!
6307 Brookside Plaza
Kansas City, MO 64113