Twice as Good

El Quinto Pino Comedor doubles the deliciousness

The choice of whether or not to take the vacant apartment next door to the 400 square-foot jewel box that is El Quinto Pino was a "no brainer" for chef Alex Raij once her architect declared, "If you don't take this space, I'm moving in."

So Raij and her husband, Eder Montero, jumped in, renovating the space to give it a brainy 1970s Spanish vibe that's both modern and crafty.

Spreadable Menorcan sausage, chorizo and honey | Shrimp and chickpea crisp

While chatting with Raij about the space she reminded us, "during the second half of the 1970s, Spain was just emerging out from under Franco–so the feel is a mid-century modern vibe you would find somewhere else."

The just-completed expansion added a whole room of seats adjacent to the tapas bar, beloved by many but so tiny as to only afford space for a few at a time.

With windows lined with succulents, a glorious chandelier that swoops above diners like the curve of a lady's hat and a macramé-ish tapestry the room feels as if you are dining in someone's home.

Fideua | A pinenut and Marcona almond ajo blanco with sweet shrimp

The incredible care put into the food cements that feeling. For instance, the night we stopped in, Raij came by our table to chat at length about the quality of the squid the restaurant was receiving.

The core of El Quinto Pino's menu has remained (si, por favor uni panini!; $15), but the addition of a contiguous prep kitchen ("We used to have to walk outside to access the walk-in refrigerator," bemoans Raij) has opened up flexibility for the kitchen to play with such dishes as the huevo con huevo ($16). In it, tiny shell-on shrimp are flash-fried and served with a poached egg, fresh mayonnaise, snow peas and Szechuan pepper oil.

Bikini sandwich with mozzarella and poblano peppers | Olive oil-cured mackerel wth seaweed

Somehow, whatever you eat here feels like coming home (albeit a slight roomier one this time around).