Bulla Gastrobar is a restaurant that holds a special place in our hearts. We’ve been ardent supporters of Bulla since it first opened its doors, heading over whenever we craved some great Spanish tapas. It was also one of the first restaurants we visited when we started dating.
But we’re not here to bore you with romantic stories. Here’s what you need to know: Bulla has always provided us with a solid dining experience. The service is on point, the food is consistent and the ambiance makes it perfect for a hot date, an office happy hour or just a nice lunch.
We recently visited to check out one of their newer offerings — the Market Menu — and we’re happy to say that the dining experience remains as solid as ever.
Since the last time we visited — early last year — the chef has changed. Now leading the kitchen is Chef Diego Solano, who just recently introduced a special weekly menu (the aforementioned Market Menu). In addition to the regular menu that features MFP-favorite items like the Huevos Bulla, diners now have the option of trying out some more creative concoctions that Chef Diego and his team have put together.
The menu, which highlights of-the-moment ingredients and trends, is a rethinking of classic Spanish dishes we’ve come to know and love. For Bulla regulars, these offerings ensure that there’s something new and fresh on the menu each week; you’ll keep wanting to come back to see what’s in store.
That’s exactly how we felt after our Market Menu experience… we wanted more; while we love the regular menu through and through, these items are welcome additions. If Chef Diego can manage to maintain this quality week after week — and we don’t doubt it — we’d love to see the Market Menu become a permanent fixture.
With that said, let’s get to the food. Since the Market Menu changes weekly, chances are you won’t find these items on there anymore — but they should give you an idea of the amazingness you can expect.
To wash down the feast, we decided on the Market Menu featured drink: High Society (Jimador, strawberry, lime juice, Lustau PX, Peychaud’s). The adult beverage certainly lived up to its name with a mix of top-quality ingredients that was both smooth and refreshing. The first food item that came out started our meal strong: the Empanada de Lacon.
The empanda’s dough is the culinary equivalent to crack. In all seriousness, we could have just eaten the empanada for all six courses and left happy. It was that freakin’ good. The smoked pork shank was nice and tender, too, and the piquillo peppers and olives didn’t overpower the dish — all the flavors blended together beautifully to please our palette.
With the standard set so high, we were a little concerned that the rest of the meal wouldn’t live up to the empanada. Thankfully, we were wrong. The two dishes that followed — the Chistorra a la Sidra and the Croquetas de Chipirones — were both just as solid (albeit not for everyone). The Spanish sausage was a delight, and we couldn’t stop soaking up the garlic cider sauce with the grilled bread until every last drop was gone.
But although we agreed that the chistorra was great, we were divided on the croquetas. Not because they were bad or anything — it came down more to personal preference. Dianne is not a big fan of squid; I happen to love it. Unsurprisingly, I loved the dish and its pronounced flavor. Dianne did not. The dish carries a distinct taste that probably won’t convert non-squid lovers into a fan of the cephalopod. If you don’t like squid, skip it. But if you love all things squid and calamari, this is a must.
Fortunately, the next course pleased us both tremendously, thus saving our relationship. The restaurant’s namesake sliders (and its James Beard Foundation Burger) has a lot going on. You’re biting into pork, beef, veal and oyster mushroom patties with tetilla cheese, caramelized onions, piquillo peppers and a Crimini port reduction. Say that three times fast.
This is a dish that makes you think. At first bite, we didn’t know what to make of what we had just put in our mouths; there were so many layers of flavor that it’s a little overwhelming initially. But keep chewing: everything comes together after a few seconds and you’ll be left shaking your head at how good it tastes. It’s mind-blowing how this burger works its magic on your tongue. Do not rush through this burger — take the time to really appreciate all its nuances. Hats off to the kitchen staff on this work of art.
The piece de resistance was unanimously the Pasta de Mariscos. Now normally pastas are heavy and after everything we’d already had, it was highly unlikely we could stomach a heavy dish. Well surprise, surprise. Chef Diego delivered us an incredibly light and flavorful pasta dish. The handmade pappardelle was the perfect al dente. It sat inside of a bright buttery white wine sauce that perfectly complemented the lightly seasoned shrimps, scallops, and calamari resting on top of the dish.
Given all of the seafood within the dish, it did not give off a fishy taste at all. The white wine mixed with the pasta and seafood beautifully danced across our palette. It really pained us that we couldn’t finish this dish. If this dish appears again on the menu, order it immediately!
There was no way we would let our readers down by forgoing dessert. With no room left in our stomachs, we took one for the team and had the hazelnut praline flan. We had to exercise restraint to avoid eating this thing in a matter of seconds. Flan in its regular caramel-y form is God’s greatest gift to earth (fact — not opinion), and this hazelnut rendition nearly put Grandma’s recipe to shame (Sorry, abuelita). With some gelato and guilt thrown in for good measure, Bulla produced a strong grand finale for any meal.
All in all, the Market Menu left us impressed. Chef Diego and his staff are able to show off their creative chops, diners get to try something new and tasty each week, and everyone comes out happy. We certainly did, and we hope you do, too.
The menu is available daily during dinner service, and you don’t have to try everything on it like we did (although you can). Choose your regular favorites and branch out with one or two Market Menu items. Once you try the new menu, come back and let us know your thoughts.
Bulla is located at 2500 Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables. For details on the Market Menu or other restaurant information, call 305-441-0107.