BEST TAPAS Salero 1000 S. Miami Avenue


305-371-3473 Contrary to popular belief, the word tapa does not translate to "small snack" or "little bite," but rather it means "lid." The story starts in the mid-Nineteenth Century, when barkeepers in Andalusia and other warm regions of Spain would protect slender glasses of poured sherry against dust and insects by covering them with a piece of bread, cheese, sausage, or ham. Customers would satisfy their mid-afternoon hunger by eating the salty morsels on top of their glasses, which in turn made them want to drink more. It wasn't long before tapas became an attraction themselves, which they remain to this day in cafés and bars stretching from Seville to South Florida. A choice spot to enjoy them in the latter area would be Salero, the tapas-café-bar situated in the Firehouse Four building, right below its more formal sister from Spain, Mosaico. The setting is breezy, stylish, and relaxed (although crowded on weeknights, owing to its proximity to downtown). A fresh assortment of traditional hot and cold tapas is offered for between $2.50 and $5.00 per plate. Fried Camembert, tuna empanada, and a cazuelita of chorizo cooked in cider would be a nice warm trio to start with, contrasted by a chilled trilogy of white anchovies in vinegar, Serrano ham, and salted Spanish almonds. Most important, a fine selection of Spanish wines and a savvy menu of wine flights allow for pairing tapas with appropriate grapes -- which, remember, was the whole idea in the first place.


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