St. John’s is finally getting a tapas bar.
Hopping on trend with Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax who have been under siege by the Spanish invasion on pintxos and patatas bravas for years, St. John’s finally has its own tapas joint as of December 8th.
The unassuming black door on Clift’s-Baird’s Cove has become a trapdoor to Spain. The downtown bar is covered in Spanish tile with an open charcuterie kitchen, exposed beams, and original stone walls that transport you to tapas. The large glass wine vault is 95% full of Spanish wines, there is 10 draft beers flowing from the taps, and Sangria sold by the jug.
“Tapas are a marriage of drinking and eating,” says Derek Locke, one of Boca’s owners. Even though the establishment will be bar-focused, it doesn’t mean the food is any less authentic. With the help of Head Chef Gregory Bersinski and Barcelona native Chef Javier Jaso Buzzoni, Boca has crafted a menu of authentic Spanish dishes.
In cooperation with Spanish importers and direct sources from the motherland, ingredients like full legs of Iberico ham shaved right in front of you at Friday’s happy hour (4-7pm), and the manchego cheese on your charcuterie plate come right from the source. Traditional tapas like Croquetas de Jamon y Queso, Pan con Tomate and Patatas Bravas dominate the menu, as well as various sizes of charcuterie plates.
The trio of owners Derek Locke, Lorne Loder, and John Cook want to bring a piece of Spain to St. John’s with a casual drinking establishment, especially after noticing the absence of a wine bar in the city. Their aim is to make tapas approachable and affordable. With decades of bar and restaurant experience behind them, they are looking towards the future of the casual dining scene in the city.
“I think it’s time for this place,” says Derek Locke. They specifically chose an off-George Street location, wanting to create a casual eatery where people can go and have some wine and cheese with friends without the pulse of loud music reverberating around them.
“The music will never trump conversation,” says Locke. Boca’s owners have paid special attention to the acoustics of the bar so good chats come first. “We want to make people feel extremely comfortable whether you’re having a glass of wine, or if you’re having a charcuterie board. We want people to come in and stay.”
High-quality small plates in a casual atmosphere is the name of the game for Boca, and the space has undergone a complete transformation to match the mood.
“We had to remove 50 years of renovations,” says Locke, “there was about 30 tonnes of debris we had to take out.”
Boca will be open from 11:30am to 3:00am so tapas and charcuterie for lunch will become an option for work meetings downtown as well a night on the town.
Boca Tapas Bar is located at 189 Water Street