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Taberna Tapas

Posted by DID 22 Jun 2012 21 Comments

This is a quick first look at Taberna Tapas, the new tapas place that opened this week downtown. Taberna should not be confused with the tapas place Matt Kelly (of Vin Rouge) and crew are opening a few doors down in the old Book Exchange building. Taberna is where the not-great casual Mexican joint Guajillos used to be. They’ve completely redone the space, removing the awkward raised seating in the window, exposed the brick walls and highlighted the high ceilings. With rustic chandeliers and chalkboard menus, it’s refreshingly nice compared to the spot’s previous inhabitant.


The menu is pretty extensive with a wide range of traditional small plate tapas offerings in addition to flatbreads, bocadillo (Spanish style sandwiches), a variety of paellas, wraps and salads. At lunch, even with a small crowd, the service was  attentive and friendly.

We tried a variety of the salads, sandwiches, tapas and one of the paella dishes. For their first week in business, it was all solid. The calamari was fresh and crispy in a herbed cornmeal batter and served with a roasted red pepper dipping sauce. The arugala salad with almonds, honey and goat cheese was refreshing. The paella was lovely in presentation – studded with shrimp, serano ham, squash, zuchini, peppers and shredded chicken. The Spanish omelet was fluffy and packed with potatoes and mushrooms (could have used a touch of salt). The shrimp flatbread was pretty good, but somewhat underwhelming. On first look, Taberna seems like it will be a welcome addition to Main street’s dining scene.


Taberna will serve beer and wine once their permits come through.

Taberna Tapas
325 W. Main St.
Monday-Thursday 11-8
Friday-Saturday 11-10
Sunday Brunch 10-3

21 Comments »

  • Burgeoningfoodie said:

    If the next to last food photo is Paella it is the oddest looking Paella I’ve seen…. taste aside.

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    DID replies on June 23rd, 2012 at 8:44 pm:

    it is and I think the angle is partially to blame

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  • jonn said:

    From what i can read of the menu and gather from the photos..looks pretty not vegetarian-friendly right? Would be a great if one of those wraps were vegetarian for a lunch stop-in.

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    Savta replies on July 24th, 2012 at 3:18 pm:

    We were pretty disappointed in the vegetarian options. Wasn’t much and we’re used to a lot more selection in tapas palces. Hopefully the new one fro the Vin Rouge folks will be more vegetarian friendly.

    [Reply]

    koates replies on December 1st, 2012 at 12:29 pm:

    New menu items..vegetarian menu has increased

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  • dav said:

    No one will EVER confuse this for Matt’s tapas place. Either it’s gotten worse, or you guys were being very generous. The paella was dry, flaky rice topped with day-old shredded chicken and a pile of mushed, old vegetables to the side, and the “wrap” was the same, but shoved in one of those orange sundried tomato wraps. The arugula salad was dry, with only a little drizzle of honey for dressing, and chewy, flavorless serrano ham. Service was good, but the food was bland at best, and just plain inedible at worst.

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  • dc said:

    Paella and arugula salad are not tapas.

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  • Paralegal said:

    The food is bad. I tried the paella, and it was the worst I’ve ever had and the service was even worse.

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    koates replies on December 1st, 2012 at 12:35 pm:

    Now offering open table traditional paella upon reservation

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  • Kevin Fox said:

    The food was excellent. I was just in Spain and got hooked on Spanish food. I have tried a few other places since I have been back but this is the best I have found. Paella was outstanding. We will definetly be back. Make sure to try the flat bread. Service was good too. The only thing this place is missing is beer.

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  • Linds said:

    I had the stuffed pork loin sandwich and it was awesome. Shared some potato wedges with a friend and the roasted red pepper sauce was very tasty (it looks like ketchup above but isn’t). My friend said her paella was excellent. It was a perfect sized lunch and budget friendly as well. I’ll definitely be going here again. I’ve been to Spain but am not incredibly familiar with “authentic” Spanish food. IMO, who cares? It’s different flavors than you’ll get anywhere else in Durham and I’d rather have this restaurant than yet another (!) pizza place any day.

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  • Gallego said:

    I Spent a month in Spain this summer. When I came back (last week) a friend of mine told me about this new place. I invited my friend Carolina (She is from Spain) to try the paella. I really enjoyed this dish when I was in Spain. I was really disappointed with the paella, It was just terrible. The place is dark and the service was not very good. I hope they can consider the comments and make some changes. There are not many options in Durham for lunch.

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    TSQ75 replies on October 10th, 2012 at 4:03 pm:

    Not many options in Durham for lunch? really?

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  • SCT said:

    Had lunch at Taberna yesterday before the matinee performance of Chicago at DPAC. I thoroughly enjoyed the spinach salad and Valencia paella. It was flavorful and just the right portion for lunch. My guests had the flatbread, sandwiches and paella and were just as pleased with their meals. Service was excellent! I am excited about this new restaurant and will be back!

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  • Meg said:

    I too was very disappointed with the food. We had the vegetable pisto which was underseasoned and very greasy – basically swimming. The patatas bravas were edible but nothing special and the dipping sauces tasted like the base was powdered ranch flavor. The quatros puercos managed to be greasy and dry at the same time – the pulled pork was dry as a bone the rest was swimming in grease. The bright spot was the bacon wrapped dates which were greasy but quite tasty. They were the only thing I would order again, if I were to come back. The servors were friendly and enthusiastic but that couldn’t make up for greasy, flavorless food.

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  • Gallego said:

    There is an article this week in the Independent describing how bad is the food in this place specially the paella.

    For the best tapas in Durham go to Mateo Bar Tapas, 109 W. Chapel Hill St., Durham, NC 27701

    [Reply]

    ragg replies on October 10th, 2012 at 2:10 pm:

    I might have been lucky (or the others unlucky) because I tried the paella and it was delicious (even though it did not look like a paella visually) – BTW, I am from Spain.

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  • TSQ75 said:

    So many places fall off the mark for real tapas style. Small plates, always. its true working class heavy snacks. meant to be indulged in after the workday with a nice glass of wine and conversation…something to hold you over until the 9pm dinner…lol

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  • 1234567 said:

    I personally loved everything great food I had the paella its not traditional but still good . They now have the option of getting the open table traditionalstyle paella you have to make a reservation for it but it is well worth it.the service was excellent I personally have no complaints. Last but not least the chocolate molten cake was to die for. Love the spainish wines. Reasonable prices, great atmosphere,great service… Unlike my experience at Mateo. I’ll definatally b choosing taberna in this “tapas battle”.

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  • Colt said:

    Yea if you are looking for tapas in Durham, Mateo is the best spot hands down, I wouldnt bother with Taberna

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  • Mimi said:

    My husband and I eat at Taberna’s regularly and enjoy the food and the service. We particularly enjoy the salmon a la plancha (with sherry/caper sauce), calamari, spinach salad, and anchovy pinxtos con pan. The paella isn’t a favorite, but the waitstaff have told us that it is not a traditional paella. My husband has severe food allergies and we find Taberna’s to be more food-friendly than the other tapas place in downtown Durham. Waitstaff are friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive (but not overly so).

    [Reply]

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