I visited Mateo with my niece and her husband in Durham, North Carolina. They are the writers of the blog “The Triangle Review“. We were excited to experience the place that Alton Brown called “The Best Tapas in America”. It was also interesting for two generations to explore this place with our different perspectives and different tastes in food. We were experiencing both the food and each other as adults so it was a fun night for all.

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As I always like my sparkling wine, I started off with a glass of their house rosé cava. It was excellent. Not too sweet, great flavor, and not a ton of yeast. An enjoyable sip and a very reasonable price per glass.
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We decided to really embrace the tapas experience and share a bunch of dishes and order as we went along. We started out with the chicarrones. This had a unique seasoning on it and sat on a bed of chorizo ranch dressing. It was good, but it wasn’t my favorite of the lineup.

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We moved on to the tortilla espanola. This was a traditionally made spanish tortilla with egg, potato, and chorizo. It was delicious. We all enjoyed it.

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Our next dish was the artichokes. We were all shocked when this came out; I have never seen artichokes prepared or presented in this way. They were fried. They were then finished with lemon and were plated with an oyster mayonnaise. It was very unusual and delicious; even the lemons were fried.

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My niece’s husband loves bone marrow so he ordered that for the table. What we got was unbelievable; wow! I have never had it so beautifully presented or more delicious. This was a rockstar dish. I would describe the dish as meaty, soft, rich and satisfying. It was served on dry french bread with garnishes of rocket and radishes.
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I wanted another meat dish so I ordered the brisket. This was another dish we all raved about. The brisket was cooked crispy and it was served with a pickled onion relish on top. There were moans of “mmm “all over the table as we were eating.

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Our last main course dish was the pan con tomate with manchengo. Crusty bread spread with savory tomato compote, topped with manchengo sliced cheese. This dish was packed with flavor without trying too hard. No overwhelming basil or garlic. It had enough in its simplicity of flavors. I loved the cheese on top to round it off. It provided the perfect finish to the acidic tomatoes and the crusty bread.

As if we didn’t stuff ourselves enough, we felt a responsibility to be good bloggers and try their desserts. We each sucked it up and ordered a dessert to try. That is my story and I am sticking to it. I ordered the churros with a dark chocolate sauce, my niece ordered the sweet potato hand pie, and her husband ordered the chocolate mousse.

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Hands down the sweet potato hand pie was the winner! That was beyond outstanding. If there was a duel of spoons for the last piece, we would have had it for this dessert. It had it all; amazing texture, creaminess, depth of flavor, complexity and yumm factor.

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The churros were a let down as they didn’t taste quite fresh. The dark chocolate sauce was awesome though to dip them in. I could have eaten that on its own.

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The chocolate mousse? I don’t know what happened there; it didn’t even look appetizing. The rest of the meal was so good, that we will just skip on over this one and pretend it didn’t happen.

The service at Mateo was excellent. Food was brought out quickly, drinks were refreshed and the wait staff were attentive. I loved the ambiance of the restaurant. It had the whole package going for it. I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting an interesting social meal.

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