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Taberna
Cherry citrus sangria, vino tinto and other Spanish fare at Taberna

Santa Monica?s Third Street Promenade is a fun shopping mecca (love you, AllSaints Spitalfields), but we?re tired of the same old dining options (we?ll pass on supper at Blue Plate Oysterette yet again). Now a new joint, just around the corner on Second Street, has given us a reason to wait out the late afternoon traffic, sit back and toast to tapas.

Taberna Arros y Vi is the latest restaurant from Michael Cardenas, the guy whose Sushi Roku became a celebrity hangout in the ?90s. But Taberna is a different kettle of fish altogether: It?s Spanish. It?s dark and low-key. And it?s a great deal if you visit during happy hour (weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m., weekends from 5 to 10 p.m.).

Blame the refreshing cherry citrus sangria ($4), with Chardonnay, cherry juice and lime, but more than once we?ve slid into the generous booths up front and found ourselves gobbling up small plates ($5 each) of stuff we wouldn?t usually order. Blood sausage on dark bread with pepper relish? Richly satisfying. Lightly breaded croquettes of mashed potatoes and chorizo? Crispy and filling. A plate of pickled carrots, radishes and string beans? A bright and tasty salad substitute.

Olé, Taberna--you?re now our favorite Santa Monica meeting spot.

Taberna Arros y Vi, 1403 Second St., Santa Monica; 310-393-3663 or tabernala.com

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