La Siesta: Sergio Moreno Explores His Spanish Tapas Roots

By Sophie Steiner, January 4, 2023

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The Place 

Welcome to Andalusia.

La Siesta is a tapas bar straight out of southern Spain by Isaac Ye (Tres Perros) and Chef Sergio Moreno (previously of Commune Social) – who is taking it back to his Andalusian roots, cooking the food he knows and loves. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

La Siesta isn’t a restaurant per se, but rather a casual ‘bar de tapas’ – an everyday pre-dinner hangout for an aperitivo cocktail and snack.

That’s because dinner for the Spanish takes place around 11pm, with the hours preceding that spent sipping jerez, sharing plates of tapas and catching up on the latest comings and goings with whoever happens to be passing by – the exact vibe emulated at La Siesta.


Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The idea is not to create something innovative and unheard of before; rather, it’s the opposite. La Siesta is the bustling neighborhood tapas bar found on every street corner in Spain, just transplanted onto our very own Shanxi Bei Lu.

It’s a taste of Spanish hospitality that Shanghai’s been craving. 

The Food

Traveling along Spain’s southern coast, the soft opening menu that launched in early December features Spanish signatures and tapas faves. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Begin with a glass of Vermouth (RMB38) – a fortified wine blended with aromatic herbs – sipped on as commonly as water across the entire country.

Pleasantly sweet, botanical, with a slightly bitter finish, a glass is usually garnished with an orange wheel and an olive for that extra hit of citrus and briny pop. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Toasted fingers of bread shmeared with smashed tomato as the Pan con Tomato (RMB8), herb-marinated olives – or Aceitunas Aliñas (RMB20) – luscious bechamel and ham-stuffed Croquetas de Jamón (RMB52) dotted with truffle aioli, and a smattering of other tapas whet the appetite in the most unmistakably Spanish of ways. 


Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Andalusia’s Arabic influence that derives from the Moor conquests of Spain’s past still makes itself apparent in many of the dishes, like the Ajo Blanco (RMB36) – a velvety, cold soup, made in the Málaga style, Chef Sergio’s hometown.

Garlic, bread, olive oil, almonds and a touch of cumin are blended together, topped with juxtaposingy sour, julienned green apples, grapes and pickled anchovies. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A close relative – and arguably more well-known soup – is Porra Antequerana (RMB36), also known as salmorejo.

Like a creamy gazpacho thickened by blended, vinegar-marinated bread, a topping of crispy pork, hardboiled egg and a lashing of olive oil help cut through the lush richness, pulling diners in for another spoonful.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Springy shrimp, coated in a metric ton of minced garlic and spices, sizzle in a cast-iron skillet as the Gambas Al Pil-Pil (RMB60).

If you manage to save some of the toast from before, there is no better use for it than soaking up the garlicky, spiced olive oil left in the bottom of the pan. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Sliced spears of eggplant are flash-fried and dribbled with honey as the addicting Berenjenas Con Miel (RMB36), a salty-sweet staple on every Andalusian menu. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The classic fried bar snack that pairs oh-so-well with a cold, frothy mug of Estrella Galicia, the Fritura Andaluza (RMB72) sees deep fried curly calamari, tender adobo-marinated codfish and plump shrimp accompanied by a tangy aioli for dipping. 

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The Flamenquín Cordobés (RMB68) is another Andalusian staple. Hailing from the city of Córdoba, slices of jamón Iberico and cheese are wrapped around a cut of pork tenderloin, coated in a breadcrumb batter and deep-fried.

It’s sinfully scrumptious and – by our medically unprofessional calculation – roughly zero calories, so you might as well order a second from the get-go. 

DSC05631.jpgHuevos a la Flamenca (RMB58), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Stewed in a fino sherry butter sauce rather than white wine, the Mejillones al Fino con Alcachofas (RMB58) are Canadian mussels accompanied by artichokes – as the name suggests – and crunchy fennel, a smattering of herbs for freshness. 

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Half beef, half pork meatballs are wading in a sofrito-based reduced stock, sprinkled with fragrantly toasted almonds as the Albondigas de la Abuela con Salsa de Almendra (RMB58)

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

If you take away only one piece of advice from this article, it’s don’t skip dessert.

They are down-to-earth, presented humbly as they are and taste like something a Spanish abuela might bring to a wedding because she doesn’t trust the caterer. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A modest slice of Tarta de Manzana (RMB42) is rimmed with thinly sliced baked apples, but what lurks beneath – a treacly apricot jam imparts a tart sweetness, while rosemary (as an alternative to the common apple spiced with cinnamon) elevates each bite with a savory hint. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Palo cortado sherry is reduced down into a sticky caramel that coats the custardy Coconut Flan (RMB42), supple and creamy, coating the spoon like warm butter. 

DSC05686.jpgMousse de Chocolate (RMB42), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

And this is just the beginning; as the menu develops and close to doubles in size, expect deeply niche regional specialties like zurrapa and gazpachuelo, along with a few mains and more snacks and desserts. 

While we tend to zero-in on food, the drinks are equally important here, with honest prices across the board to match a straightforward drinks menu – no frills necessary.

Currently, La Siesta offers three varieties of vermouth and three sherries, but that number will soon expand to help introduce both approachable beverages’ liquid legacies to the Shanghai masses. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

There’s also Estrella Galicia on tap for just – get this – 25 rambos, plus wine starting at only RMB38 per glass – a real steal in Jing’an.

Rounding out the drinks lineup, some simple cocktails – sangria, rebujito, tinto de verano, a negroni made with fino sherry and rum instead of vermouth and gin, and a pretty standout selection of gin for G&Ts going from RMB55-110 a pop.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Vibe 

Walking into the brightly lit space, patrons are welcomed by Chef Sergio and Isaac directly, along with those sitting at the bar – ‘Qué tal, amigo’ echoing throughout – because when you’re here, somehow you feel you know everyone already. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The décor is that of a Cordobesa patio, patterned in blue and white tiles, flowing water fountains and hanging plants, against a white backdrop inspired by southern Spain’s hilltop towns. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The shotgun bar setup also mirrors that which one would find in Spain – a narrow, communal space lined by a bar on one side a counter on the other, meant mainly for standing, mingling and befriending your neighbor. 

Price: RMB80-160
Who’s Going: The Jing’an drinking contingency, Spanish expats missing home, tapas fans 
Good For: Honest, home-cooked Spanish food cravings, casual catchups, vermouth and sherry exploration

La Siesta, 600 Shanxi Bei Lu, by Xinzha Lu 陕西北路600号,近新闸路.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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