Photos: John Barkiple
1291 S. 1100 E. Salt Lake City
Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
Sun. 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
At its core, Finca has embraced the Spanish concept of tapas, selections of small plates that are usually paired with wine or cocktails. Though they do offer larger entrées, there’s something both special and casual about sitting around a table with some friends to share five or six tapas options along with a few of their craft cocktails—I suppose I should refer to them as “award-winning,” as Finca was recently recognized for excellence in the field of mixology at Salt Lake Magazine’s Craft Cocktail Competition.
Indeed, my most memorable experience at Finca was the result of splitting a few of their tapas options with my wife for lunch one Saturday. Based on the sheer variety of food that Finca offers, it’s important to go in with a game plan. Are you looking for something quick and light? Do you want to treat yourself to something rich and soulful? We were leaning toward the latter and made our decisions accordingly. We began with the Ensalada de Remolacha ($8), which was a great way to prime our palates. It’s a beet salad topped with pickled strawberries, almonds and a ricotta cheese that they make onsite. Though it retained the light freshness that comes from a salad prepared with local greens, the hearty sweetness of the beets and creamy saltiness of the ricotta created a salad that truly exemplified the word “appetizer.” Upon finishing the salad, our three small plates arrived. Despite my natural tendency to start eating my food before it has even left the hands of our server, I had to take a moment and reflect on the beauty of what was before us. We ordered the Albóndigas ($10), Croquetas ($8) and Papas y Aioli ($5).
Albóndigas are Spanish meatballs that are made from a mixture of lamb and pork. After they come out of the oven, they’re topped with a homemade tomato sauce and shredded Manchego cheese. I’m a big believer that a meatball needs neither bread nor pasta to be a successful dish, and I cite Finca’s Albóndigas as proof. The local lamb and pork are the stars of this dish and are prepared and cooked in a way that showcases all of that natural flavor. Each bite has that perfect ratio of slight crispness on the outside and soft juiciness on the inside. These Albóndigas are also available as one of Finca’s bocadillos, which might give other meatball sandwiches around town a run for their money. The Croquetas looked harmless enough—golden brown spheres topped with preserved lemon—but once we cut into them, we were greeted with a beautifully gooey center of smoked chicken coated in a creamy piquillo sauce. The crunchy exterior was the perfect canvas for the flavors of smoked chicken and slightly spicy piquillo. Something about this dish made me feel safe and warm—almost nostalgic. The surprise of this visit was the Papas y Aioli. They were beautifully plated—roasted and brown, topped with kosher salt, paprika and drizzled with garlic aioli—but I figured that they would be more of a side dish to our meal. As I took my first bite, I had to pause and consider the situation. This dish was far too simple to taste so good. Crunchy, creamy and salty with a bit of warmth from the paprika: this is how a potato—the noble workhorse of the culinary world—should be treated.
In addition to its wide range of tapas, Finca is also known for its brunch menu, which is available on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Though the Salt Lake area has several breakfast mainstays, it’s worth popping into Finca for their Spanish-infused takes on a few classics. The Carne de Asador ($13), for example, is a flavorful spin on steak and eggs. The dish consists of Bavette steak sliced into medallions and topped with chimichurri, an Argentenian sauce that plays very nicely with grilled meat. The eggs are local and made to order, and the dish comes with a side of their excellent roasted potatoes. The chimichurri is what ties this dish together. It’s fresh and herbaceous, and it bridges a gap between steak and eggs that was previously unknown to me. Though I ordered it medium rare, the steak was a bit more done than I would have liked, but still a solid dish. The Huevos Benedict ($10) will be a bit more familiar to fans of a traditional diner breakfast. The addition of Serrano ham was a very nice touch to the poached eggs and hollandaise sauce—altogether, it’s a creamy and comforting mix of my favorite breakfast flavors. Though the flavor was on point, I was a tad disappointed at the temperature—the huevos were a bit on the cold side by the time they arrived at our table.
Despite a few hiccups, it’s safe to say that Finca is a great place to explore a unique culinary perspective with a big group of friends. Their tapas and brunch menus offer some excellent options at reasonable prices considering the food’s quality. Coupled with an extensive selection of wines and craft cocktails, Finca offers a well-rounded restaurant experience.