Walk into Poquito in downtown Holland and you are quickly immersed into a special world, one where sharing food, memories, and smiles comes easily.
The instrumental Spanish music sets the tone. There is a dark reclaimed wood wall to the left, long communal tables in the front, a gorgeous bar in the back, decorative tiles on the floor below, and intimate tables on the right.
You are quickly seduced into more than just a culinary experience, it’s a cultural one too, as the restaurant likes to say.
Poquito focuses on tapas, or shareable small plates, with Spanish and Latin roots. The dishes are designed to be eaten communally, in stages, so the pace of the meal is up to you.
In other words, take your time.
Paquito is located at 90 W 8th St, Holland, and is part of 1983 Restaurants, a local group founded by Lucas Grill that owns Obstacle No. 1, a cocktail lounge next door, and Seventy-Six, a restaurant a few doors down.
“Each restaurant has been crafted around an experience, and each experience has been crafted around good drink and good food,” 1983 Restaurants states on their site.
After my mesmerizing walk in, my Paquito experience was off to a great start. I pored through the menu organized into vegetables, cheese, chicken, seafood and shellfish, pork, and beef dishes.
As someone who enjoys variety, this was my dream.
My friend arrived and it was time to dial things up. We started in the Latin Libations section; he ordered the Poquito Gin and Tonic, I ordered the Spanish Fashioned, which blended bourbon, sherry, and black walnut. Both cocktails were well-presented, and the taste delivered.
The server then expertly guided us through the menu until we selected five small plates to share, one from each category.
Our first wave of food included the Tacos Al Pastor and the Spicy Adobo Glazed Taquitos. The tacos were my favorite dish of the night. The pork, fire-roasted tomatillo salsa, cilantro, and Spanish onion had a distinct, spicy flavor I devoured.
Basically, I found the new love of my life.
Great conversation ensued, the memories of my college days always spark laughter, but the restaurant’s communal atmosphere only accelerated the good vibes. In fact, we even talked politics, in a civil and respectful manner, nonetheless. Small plates truly can bring people together after all.
The next round featured the Spanish Cheese Board and the Lump Crab Buñuelos. The cheese board was the winner for me, thanks to cayenne honey butter that I dipped literally every piece of cheese in. Amazing.
My friend ordered another gin and tonic, he liked the drink that much, while I checked out the blueberry cider on draft.
Then the final dish, the Manchego Truffle Fries, arrived and it did not disappoint. The fries came on a long plate, piled high, covered in Manchego, a sheep’s milk from Spain. What a finish.
Would I recommend Poquito? Absolutely. Just allow for two hours to get the full experience. And come hungry.