Whether you live in New Smyrna Beach, the surrounding areas or maybe you’re just passing through – whatever your case is, you must stop in to Spanish River Grille for a remarkable dining experience. From the moment you walk through the door, you’re greeted by the owner, Henry – yes, can you believe how hospitable this owner is that he makes it his duty to greet and seat his guests? I much prefer interacting with the owner of any place when I first come in, rather than a host or any other staff member. The owner sets the tone and bar high for a positive dining experience, because their restaurant is their livelihood – not just their job. Henry actually remembered Mike and I from the previous two visits we’ve made in the last year. Henry’s face lit right up and greeted us with a “Welcome Back!” attitude that guaranteed a great time for everyone.

The atmosphere of the restaurant has contemporary decor with Spanish and Cuban influences. The place is warm and romantic with subtle lighting and great music setting the mood. The open kitchen boasts a clean environment and professionalism amongst kitchen and wait staff. The decor on the left side of the restaurant features a retro cow print booth/table settings; while the right side is rustic with modern details. We’ve sat on both sides and either choice gives a unique and pleasant aura.

Each visit we’ve had a different server and each server has been outstanding to say the least. Mike and I have both been in the food service industry in the past, so we know the game. The staff always checks with the kitchen to ensure the food is safe for me to consume, given my allergies and veganism.

The food and drink menu is a tease to any foodie out there. Prior to our veganism, Mike and I dined on their delicious foie gras, lamb and fish dishes – all delicious – many months ago. However, a staple item I always seem to enjoy is their gazpacho. This gazpacho recipe is tangy, creamy and light! I can’t get over how tasty it was – made my tastebuds dance a little tango. I dare you to start your culinary journey with this – you’ll be ordering a second bowl (which I have done)… And, the gazpacho is completely vegan – so enjoy.

The “Coctales” menu has a diverse and ethnic selection. Mike and I had the house red sangria, which is made closer to a traditional spanish recipe involving cinnamon, fresh fruit, red blend wine, brandy and sugar… so delicious! Another favorite cocktail is the Gin drink with fennel, rhubarb and other goodies that enhance the juniper berry flavors of the gin. This cocktail was easily my favorite gin drink to boot.

However, on our most recent visit to Spanish River Grill we each enjoyed a tempranillo style Spanish red wine during happy hour. The wine was smooth and everything that my wine-o’s out there look for in a velvety red.

We both ordered the vegetarian plato which consists of five choices from the sides section on the menu. We chose: yuca con mojo, porcino dusted fries, sautéed tatsoi spinach, black beans (no safron rice because they cook it with chicken stock), and sauteed mushrooms. The time before, we ordered the exact same plate but had the roasted heirloom tomatoes (so delicious!) instead of the tatsoi spinach, because they had run out of the tatsoi spinach. We also dined on the “specials” menu that featured sautéed beets (without the bacon vinaigrette, our server swapped it for the sherry vinaigrette variation). SO GOOD! Those golden beets were cooked to a firm texture and served over garlicy tatsoi.

The yuca con mojo is just to die for. Literally, I would want to eat this dish for my last meal. The starchy yuca is smothered in an onion-garlic mojo sauce with flavors from cilantro, lime, salt and pepper. So simple, but perfectly full of flavor.

The porcini dusted fries are something foreign and similar to me. The crunchy potato is so familiar, but the porcini dusting takes it to a completely different level in the french fry world. I just can’t even explain how much you need these in your life.

The sautéed tatsoi is tender, not slime-y and tossed with matchstick carrots and an abundance of garlic. I loved every second of my time with that tatsoi. We will meet again.

The black beans were the best damn beans I’ve had. They weren’t soup-y or over-seasoned or over-cooked/mushy. These black beans were firm with a slight flavor of cuban spices and happiness. I’m not kidding, these beans were the perfect source of taste and protein that every vegan is entitled to.

Finally, the sautéed mushrooms were also probably the best damn shrooms I have put in my mouth. They were sliced paper thin and not greasy with oil. They were seasoned with fresh rosemary and just mouthwatering. The mushroom flavor was not overpowering at all or too spongey. Seriously, best fungi to date.

So, if you’re in the NSB area make it a point to swing in to Spanish River Grill. You won’t be disappointed or left feeling hungry. This place is hands down one of my favorite restaurants I’ve had the pleasure of dining with.