A couple of decades ago (or more), there was a divine restaurant in downtown Edmonton called La Bodega. That was in the 80s: the days of big hair, big shoulder pads and big expense accounts. I had all three, and I ate at La Bodega a lot.

There’s a new bodega in town, this one called Bodega Wine and Tapas Bar and part of Sabor Divino on the Boardwalk. I’m happy to report, its pretty damn good.

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This Bodega is all about tapas, and one of the sweetest little spots int the city, complete with patio and comfortable stools at a lovely bar. The bar features a creative selection of wine, beer and cocktails – no Little Penguin, no Jägermeister. This is a bar for grownups, or at least people with grown up tastes.

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Tapas are fun.  If you go to Portugal or Spain, you’ll tapa like there’s no tomorrow. Bodega brings a little bit of those two countries (and Peru and Chile)  right here to Edmonton, and for that I say obrigado and gracias to Chef Lino and owner Chris Mena.

The food: there’s a standing offer right now of two glasses of wine and three tapas plates for $30.00, or, if you’re with a group, you might want to go for the bottle of wine and eight tapas. Either one is a pretty fair deal.

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The tapas special that was on the board the night we went consisted of marinated mussels, piri piri chicken pintxos, and mushroom arancini

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Marinated Mussels

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Piri Piri Chicken Pintxos


Mushroom Arancini

Those three were delicious, my favourite being the chicken pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”), but we didn’t stop there because Chef Lino is the Grand Master of Cephalopod Cookery. If you haven’t tried octopus yet, make sure this dish at Bodega is your first time experience.


Octopus with olive oil and black olive vinaigrette

And being that we were pigging out, we had to have pig — two ways: pork belly, and Pata Negra, the famous acorn-fed, indigenous pig of the Iberian Peninsula.  Porcine rapture on a plate(s).

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Pork Belly

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Pata Negra

Many more dishes on the menu called out to us, but we had to stop somewhere.

What that means is that I need to go back, and I will; not just for the food but for the hospitality of the staff, the warm, welcoming environment, and all that makes Bodega the little gem of the Boardwalk.

More of my experience can be heard here on CBC Edmonton AM.