Life Passionately

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Mateo Bar de Tapas- Durham, NC


A few weeks ago we were going back and forth about where to eat for our anniversary. We always eat at Humble Pie for our Anniversary but we had just ate there for my husband's birthday. I really wanted to go somewhere new. So when I heard about Mateo it made me think of an amazing place we love in Asheville called Curate If you are ever in Asheville you must check this place out. It's also a Spanish tapas bar. We love to eat tapas because you get a small taste of lots of different things on the menu. What's better than getting to taste a little bit of everything!

We really have not eaten at many places in Durham but Southern Living named Durham the South's tastiest town.

I was really excited when first walking in. The restaurant is in an old building with tin ceilings and a huge bar. It's long and skinny and it reminds me of the old fashioned soda shop in Pittsboro (but way hipper). It stays busy so you have to have a reservation. I personally would try to make it a week ahead of time if you want to eat dinner at a normal time (our reservation was for 9:15pm). It was busy when we arrived so we opted for one of the tall tables by the bar. I do not recommend this especially if you're short. It was really uncomfortable and it's a long meal.

Our waitress was great; friendly and very knowledgable. The menu had quite a lot of items on it especially in comparison to other tapas restaurants like Humble Pie. We started with the Huevo Diablo, deviled eggs encased in chorizo. This was one of my favorite menu items. I am not a fan of deviled eggs but the boiled egg with Spanish flavorings was amazing. The filling is so rich and savory. We also had the Pan con Tomatoe. Which is basically a wonderfully thick slice of bread with garlic, tomato and olive oil on top. I have had this before with manchego on top but you have to order that way and I forgot. So don't forget the manchego. It's amazing!

We ordered the Patatas Bravas because a friend told us to try it. My thought was- ok fried potatoes...big deal. But it was a big deal! It was hot crispy chunks of fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce and some kind of aioli. I could not stop eating these. Even after I was way to full to be eating anything!
One item that I was not a big fan of was the Queso Frito y Huevo. The description says "crispy manchego, duck egg, artichoke & ham stew". All of those things are good, what could go wrong? It ended up being a runny egg sitting in a pool of cheese and then stew was a weird afterthought. None of it really went together but we still ate it.

By far the best thing we ate was the Pato y Arroz. It was duck over bomba rice, oyster mushrooms topped with caramelized onion aioli. They presented it layered in a small casserole dish. It was perfectly seasoned. The rice balanced the fattiness of the duck. Along with the flavor of the aioli was perfection. This was our last dish of the night so we ended up taking most of it home and eating it the next day. It was amazing even after coming out of the microwave.
I was super impressed with Mateo. I will definitely be going back. Let me know if you have been and what your favorite menu items were!