A Taste of Spain in Laredo

by Maria Salas

Located at the expanding and fast-growing hub of Bob Bullock Loop, there sits an out-of-the-box restaurant-bar offering Laredo a unique dining experience. A chorus of laughter and an unforgettable pattern of Moroccan tile welcome you the moment you walk into Tabernilla.

At the heart of this restaurant-bar, there lies traditional Spanish cuisine paired with the perfect atmosphere to hangout and have a good time with friends.

Chef and owner Roberto “Bobby” Gonzalez is a native Laredoan who graduated with a Culinary Arts degree from New England Culinary Institute in 1999 after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Promotion and Computer Science from Depaul University in 1997. He immersed himself in different culinary experiences learning through traveling and working with different chefs in Spain. It was these experiences that transformed his palette into one that inspired him to bring something different to the Gateway City.

From the moment Tabernilla opened in January of 2015, Bobby has put a lot of thought into offering Laredo as authentic of a Spanish experience as possible. A variety of ingredients are imported specifically from Spain to offer an immersive experience to his customers. He imports Spanish chorizo, cured meats, cheeses, olives and the olive oil used for cooking. Tabernilla also has a big selection of Brandi, gin, sherry wine, and vermouth. All of which are very popular among Spaniards and Laredoans alike.

And why wouldn’t they be? After all, Laredo has Spanish roots holding on to rich history that goes as far back as the foundation of the city. It is only fitting that Tabernilla found its niche in this city.

“There’s been a lot of thought put behind the dishes. Getting ingredients from Spain is part of it. Trying to follow flavor profiles and cooking techniques is another part. All of this is done to give people a genuine experience,” Bobby explained.

Tabernilla is a traditional Spanish restaurant catering to the culture of hanging out that is found in Laredo, much like it is in Spain. The restaurant offers tapas, which are finger foods that create casual eating moments with friends. As well as having full-sized entrees if you’re looking for a more relaxed and sit-down meal.

“Aside from [our menu] there exists the social aspect of eating like a Spaniard. Tapas are foods you eat in small amounts; normally when you’re hanging out with people. [My wife and I] liked that whole aspect. That way of eating. It resonated with us and we were reminded of what people here [in Laredo] do. People go out and they like good food, but they go out to hang out. You rarely see people go out alone; it’s not really the norm. Mostly, people go out in groups. Just the fact that people like to do that here really made us think that this might work out,” Bobby described.

Tabernilla caters to just that. You can walk in and enjoy a Spanish wine with a quick bite to eat after a good workout or you can celebrate a special moment by enjoying a full meal surrounded by close family and friends.

Your experience at the restaurant can be what you really want it to be. If you want a real taste of Spain, visit Tabernilla at 7124 Bob Bullock Loop Ste. #101.

Chef and owner Bobby makes an especially large effort to bring to the city a more original experience; From their entrees to their desserts, Tabernilla likes to include local produce as much as possible; Try one of the many delicious cocktails on their menu such as their Gin Martini.

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