Tostao’s Tapas-Bar, which opened in April, is the newest addition to downtown Nashua’s restaurant scene.
Main Street offers no shortage of eating establishments but Tostao’s separates itself by specializing in small plates (tapas) and drinks in a casual setting.
It’s straight-forward inside Tostao’s, with six tables for two and 10 seats at the bar. Rustic accents in the decor feature weathered country window shutters that frame mirrors at some of the tables, and the country theme holds on the walls and at the bar.
We like simplicity, and the menu is a one-page affair with no item over $12. Yes, this is small-plate dining, but the plates are more filling than one expects.
The drinks menu is longer than the food menu, and there are dozens of martinis and cocktails, along with wine and sangria and other mixed drinks.
We enjoyed a Tropical Summer cocktail ($8) and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc ($10) while ordering and enjoying a Latin American concert (not too loud) on the large TV behind the bar.
A Tropical Summer will promote that summertime feeling even while New England’s weather will not, delivering a flavorful mix of the Captain’s spiced rum, Malibu (coconut) rum and fruit juices reminiscent of the beach.
There was no soup on the menu, so we started with a salad and two tapas plates, with plans to order more as we went.
Tostao’s Caesar Salad ($7) is a crisp and cool blend of fresh romaine and snappy homemade croutons with a creamy Caesar dressing served in a shot glass — a nice touch. A few anchovies on top would have made it better, but it was very good as it was and balanced well with our food.
Several dishes offer a choice or beef, pork or shrimp. We told our server to surprise us with both the toppings and the underpinnings of the Tostao’s Bruschetta ($9).
We were served beef on thick, toasty bread, chicken on arepas (corn cakes) and shrimp on fried plantains.
The dish was delicious and hearty. The shredded meat was tossed in a sauce with seasonings and accents of onions, scallions and the like, and the underpinnings sliced well for building bites.
Next up was Empanadas ($7) — three fried turnovers filled with your choice of beef, chicken, pork or potato salad and cheese.
This night they were only offering beef, which was fine with us. Accompanying the turnovers were three sauces — a mild green chile sauce, guacamole and a tangy cream sauce similar to Thousand Island dressing. These went well with the trio of hearty empanadas, which were wrapped in a thin tortilla, then deep-fried crispy.
The meat tapas orders were both served hot from the kitchen, the salad was nicely chilled, and it made for a good meal.
Our plan for ordering more tapas was sidetracked by two diners more than satisfied by what we’d enjoyed. But we still wanted to order dessert.
At Tostao’s there was a choice of two desserts. We decided on the Cheesecake ($5), which was thick and substantial, topped with strawberries and blackberries and a bit of whipped cream. It was one of those go-to dishes we’d love to have again.
We had a fine dining experience at this comfortable and affordable eatery. There are many dishes we would like to try on return visits including the Mojillones Borrachos (marinated mussels), Papa Criolla (round and creamy small potatoes with spicy aji sauce), Camarones con Tocineta (shrimp wrapped in bacon), Platano Dulce (sweet plantains with shredded fresh cheese) and Chuzos (pork, chicken or shrimp kabobs with pico de gallo) or a pineapple and shrimp chuzo. There are also Albondiga meatballs, calamari, chicken wings, and bruschettas with goat cheese and black olives.
Bring your friends, be prepared to share, and keep the chef hopping by a steady stream of orders.