Laci's Tapas Bar

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In June 2010, Laci's Tapas Bar became the first Tapas restaurant in the Syracuse area. Tapas cuisine is inherently Spanish and is usually an assortment of smaller dishes sometimes meant for sharing. The bar's location is a bit isolated from downtown. But Laci's has become so popular to customers, it's rare to get a table on its busiest days. Reservations are recommended. 

When to Go: The dimly lit atmosphere hints Laci's is meant for evening only. Post-dinner for a late-night drink or post-workday to socialize with colleagues, the restaurant is a go-to spot from the time it opens until close. Standard hours of operation are Tuesday to Thursday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday to Saturday 4 p.m. to midnight; Sunday and Monday closed. The crowd picks up around 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. A special "Tappy Hour" menu is on hand Tuesday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The bottom line: You can easily nab a spot walking in on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. Otherwise, play it safe by reserving a table, which you can do on the restaurant's website. Tapas selections are only available until 10 p.m. every day. 

On Tap: Featuring the standard collection of alcoholic options, Laci's also offers an impressive list of wines and unusual cocktails. Manager Christa Maier named the sparkling rubies as the favorite drink. Glasses of wine are generally under $10, as are cocktails, which range from $6 to $8. During the "Tappy Hour" period, $3 beers as well as wine slushies, a signature cocktail and Sangria are priced at $5. Sangria, a red-wine punch garnished with fresh fruit, is a Spanish and Portuguese staple that has spread its sweetness around the world with its Tapas counterpart. The bottom line: A true Tapas experience requires the pairing of alcohol with small samples of creatively cooked food. 

The Scene: Based in the Hawley-Green neighborhood in what was formerly the original home of Pascale's restaurant, Laci's has two floors and looks like a Victorian home inside and out. On the first floor, there is a dining room near the entrance, connected to the bar with a back dining room attached. It's a cozy environment with shades over the few windows, a fireplace and tiny lights suspended from the ceiling hanging over most of the tables. The second floor is meant for large parties with one large dining room, two side dining rooms, a small kitchenette/pantry and a private bathroom. Oh, and you can't miss the fancy chandeliers. The bottom line: It's the perfect choice for a romantic date, but not as much for a family get-together. 

Blue Plate Special: Pieces of beef sirloin, marinated in vodka and olive juice and then caramelized make up the martini beef skewers, the top pick off the main Tapas menu, priced at $11. There are 13 other Tapas options that mirror the eclectic theme of Laci's, including Mac 'N Cheese egg rolls, sushi crackers and lamb chop lollipops (not your typical candy). The average entrĂ©e costs around $9. If the tapas aren't small enough, there are several "Petite Tapas" dishes like baked sweet potato fries or brie and apples. The average price for the "Petite Tapas" plates is between $5 and $6. Luckily, any dish makes not ordering a dessert inexcusable. Among the three desserts, the crepe flight concoction is loved by many. The bottom line: One of Laci's owners, Cindy Seymour, is the executive chef who knows how to satisfy food-lovers; she previously ran two other dining establishments. Plus, portion sizes are slimming.  

The Crew: The staff is young and incredibly personable. Every reserved table has a name plate on top that identifies an incoming customer. According to Maier, the manager, many of Laci's patrons are returning guests. In fact, the staff has recognized about 15 couples or groups who show up on a weekly basis. The owners, Laura Serway and Cindy Seymour, have previously owned a coffee shop and a burger joint that still exists in the Eastwood area but under different management. The bottom line: Serway, Seymour and the rest of the staff are eager to reach the level of first-name basis with their diners.

The Crowd: The diversity of food at Laci's begs for a hodgepodge of people. Generally, both men and women from 20-somethings to 50-somethings are the usual visitors. Advertisements for Laci's were posted around the Syracuse University campus in its first few months since opening, which attracted a slew of young people. Because the restaurant/bar is not situated near the city's center, it's likely you're going to need a car to get there. Drivers can park their cars in Laci's own lot adjacent to the brick building. Some choose to have birthday parties, corporate parties and even weddings there. Laci's caters, too. The bottom line: Most of Laci's fans are either already familiar with Tapas or are looking for an ethnic adventure. 

The Deets: It could be called a hidden gem in a city where most restaurants have developed their name and appeal over several years. For people who are looking to try something new, you might want to explore what seems to be an exclusive club of Tapas enthusiasts. And to truly jump into the Spanish culture, consider coming in on the first Friday of any month to eat and drink during their live, monthly Flamenco show performed by the Flamenco Troup: Puente Flamenco. The bottom line: Don't give up on Laci's until you've gone inside its fire engine-red front doors. The outside doesn't do it justice. 

Profile by Rebecca Shabad


304 Hawley Ave.
Syracuse, NY 13203
(315) 218-5903

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