TASTE TEST: Tapas Cafe dishes out small plates

The molletes at Tapas Cafe in Merrillville are pictured.

The unassuming exterior isn't much, but one of Northwest Indiana's finest European-style restaurants is tucked into a nondescript strip mall on U.S. 30 in Merrillville.

Tapas Cafe, 2486 Lincoln Highway, offers "an exotic trip to the Iberian Peninsula without leaving Northwest Indiana." The Spanish restaurant offers citrusy cerviche, delectable paellas with veggies, meat and seafood, and of course the tapas small plates that Spain has been making at roadside inns centuries before it was cool.

The Merrillville restuarant has many great tapas options, including bacon-wrapped scallops, bacon-wrapped dates, grilled calamari, stuffed olives, baked goat cheese in a sea of tomato sauce and perfectly cooked octopus with garlic and potatoes. It draws from other cuisines, with Mayan potstickers, tacos and shrimp dressed in Argentinian chimichurri sauce.

As a chef-driven restaurant, Tapas Cafe has a rotating selection of tapas specials. The mollettes are a standout. Sometimes called Mexican toast, mollettes are a phenomenal comfort food.

Black beans and a blanket of melted Chihuahua cheese are layered atop crisply toasted bread that's similar in shape to garlic bread. Each bite is pure bliss, and it's perfect for sharing. In true tapas style, the portions leave you with enough room to sample other tasty dishes.

For more information, call (219) 769-7008.


Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.