Encasa, Feb & April 2010

I don’t know enough about Spanish food to gauge how authentic it is at Encasa. What I do know is that we’ve been coming here with groups of friends for close to 5 years now. The garlicky aromas which envelope you as soon as you enter the doorway next to their pizza prep area are heady and inviting. The food quality is consistent plus Mr Awesome knows the owner so we often get a tailored deal or complimentary dishes. Oh, for the love of free food.

Encasa holds fond memories for me because it almost always involves large groups of friends, and usually for the occasion of birthdays. Lots of chatter and laughter (and one particular incident of the red, toilet-seat cover) and sharing of food, which is what is always so great about having dishes that are made to share. Regardless of what selection of friends we’re with, there is always a selection of tapas that appear time and time again: ‘Chorizo a la plancha’ (grilled chorizo), ‘Gambas al ajillo’ (prawns in garlic oil), ‘Champiñones al ajillo’ (garlic mushrooms) and, occasionally, some balls – ‘Albondigas’ (meatballs in almond sauce).

I always want bread to go with these – bread to sandwich the chorizo and soak up the spicy, red oil which oozes out, bread to dip into the garlic oil of the prawns, bread to top with the garlic mushrooms and bread to mop up that sweet, nutty yet tangy almond sauce. But stomach space has to be conserved for things to come.

For there are other wonderful things such as ‘Patatas bravas’ (fried potato with garlic mayonnaise and tomato salsa), ‘Vieiras en azafrán’ (scallops with saffron sauce), ‘Mejillones a la marinera‘ (black mussels in fresh tomato sauce) and ‘Pinchos morunos’ (lamb fillet skewers). Seriously, who says no to fried potato? Especially when there are oodles of creamy mayonnaise blanketing their tops and, although the scallops are a little small, the sauce is fragrant without being too rich and would be great over some plain rice. The mussels are plump in the refreshing sauce and the lamb skewers are well-spiced which is welcome by friends who are worried about their ‘lamb-iness’.

For carb-fix you simply cannot go past Encasa’s pizzas. Below are the ‘Meat Lovers’ pizza (ham, cabanossi, pepperoni and bacon), ‘Mar de Asia’ pizza (seafood and sweet chilli sauce) and ‘Campesina’ pizza (artichoke, roasted capsicum, roasted eggplant but we asked for mozzarella to replace the usual goat’s cheese as Ms Sourdough’s not a fan).

And what’s a Spanish meal without paella? Although this ‘Arroz Nero’ was without the requisite crusty bottom, I did enjoy the striking dark colour from the use of squid ink. Not having any particular taste, it is fun to watch people acquire streaks of black across their lips and teeth as we make our way through this. What is better than the rice dish itself, is the aioli which comes alongsige – rich, creamy, garlicky and very addictive.

To wash all this down, we have a jug (or several) of sangria to share. Whilst chatting at the end of the meal I always notice us girls trying to pick out the fruit to nibble on – perhaps it’s to neutralise some of the residual garlic flavours, or perhaps it’s just to add some extra sweetness to the drink’s flavour, but whatever it is there’s no elegant way to do it!

423 Pitt St (between Campbell & Goulburn Sts), Sydney NSW
Tel: (02) 9211 4257

Opening Hours:  Mon  5:30pm-late (dinner only)
Tue-Sat  12pm-2:30pm (lunch)
                                     5:30pm-late (dinner)

Encasa on Urbanspoon

happy eating!


  1. Bravo! No wonder you keep coming back to this place so often. The tapas look delicious.

  2. I love tapas, it's a good opportunity for greedy people to have a bit of everything =P

  3. I don't think it's the most authentic or exciting tapas place in Sydney but I'm like you. Encasa is still an old favourite of mine. I love the patatas bravas and funnily enough they have awesome pizzas, esp the seafood!

  4. i think it's a pretty good place for some down to earth spanish tapas which isn't too fancy and trying to be too clever which a lot of other places try to do. they certainly pack in the pizzas and carbs and you won't leave hungry :-)

  5. One of my favourite places in Sydney. The banquet is ridiculously cheap and food is fab! I always have to get the patatas bravas, garlic mushrooms and lemon stuffed olives... Oh and the chorizo... Mmmmm *drools* HAHA That black paella looks awesome!

  6. I love Encasa! I don't even care if it's ~authentic~ or not, it was one of the first tapas experience I've had and it holds some great memories for me :)

  7. I am a huge tapas fan! Chorizos and olives are my favourite :-)

  8. Argh- this looks SO good. I am drooling at the thought!

  9. Good old Encasa. Its always reliable and is unpretentious. I absolutely adore the Meatballs with Almond Sauce!

  10. I love these ceramic dishes, and the food is quite attractive too. And yes, they need to start serving sangria with a dainty little fruit fork or something! You try the 'tip it up' method which doesn't work, then you have to dig into the glass which is equally flawed.

  11. The Arroz Nero is something I haven't seen before, like how it visually looks. I love tapas.

  12. Seems like an easy going place and the food looks absolutely mouth-watering. I have now added it to my list of places to eat in Sydney. Thanks!

  13. I've read about Encasa but never seem to make my way there always having the bf feel like something else to eat. Am actually organising a tapas outing soon so might check these guys out!

  14. agree! encasa always brings back fond memories. and surely no spanish meal is complete without paella! and a glass or two of sangria - that's a must!

  15. The tapas here looks fantastic! But OMG, look at all that mayo on the patatas bravas!!

  16. Hey Trissa, it's good value and has great atmosphere so it's an ideal place for large groups of friends.

    Hey missklicious, but I haven't tried the churros here like you have =p

    Hey Karen, the patatas bravas are one thing that keep me coming back and, yes, I was surprised by the pizzas too!

    Hey Simon, definitely never leave here hungry, oh no!

    Hey Phuoc, oh yeah, chorizo! And definitely a great venue even though it's not in the traditional 'Spanish Quarter'.

    Hey Rose, same, I keep coming back because it reminds me of good times with friends!

    Hey Maria, unfortunately most of my friends aren't olive fans so we don't usually get that but chorizo always features!

    Hey Gastronomy Gal, I'm sure it's stuff that you'd even be able to taste if you had a cold!

    Hey Amy, agree, reliable and unpretentious =)

    Hey Conor, the fruit's probably not meant to be eaten but, you know, you're sitting there with friends and chatting away and inevitably want to play with the food! I've tried the 'tip it up' method and I can attest that it may lead to hilarious results =p

    Hey Sara, the arroz nero really is striking to look at, especially when anointed with some of the accompanying aoili.

    Hey Steph, haha, it's definitely relaxed and friendly.

    Hey Angie, it's a great place which can get a little loud, but that's one of its charms =)

    Hey Panda, I know, just can't go past the sangria especially when it's so easy to drink!

    Hey April, yes, mayo overload! But that's a good thing =p


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