Brush off that high school Spanish: three years napping through Senora’s afternoon rambles are about to pay off in a delicious way. Specifically, in around 100 delicious ways. For under $4 each. Cheap NYC food that isn’t grease-coated “dollar slice”? I’ll let you process.
When you’re done conjugating escuchar for the first time in a decade, take the ABC/DEF subway downtown and get off at West 4 St. From the station, walk a mere two blocks south to Bleecker St and the culinary experience that awaits.
Village favorite 100 Montaditos (176 Bleecker St) is a self-described “tapas-tavern”, serving up appetizers, drinks, and the eponymous montadito. If your B+ in Honors Spanish has just reengaged, you may remember that a montadito is the Iberian equivalent of the Anglo-American “sandwich” – specifically, it’s a small roll topped with meat and veggie ingredients. But that’s only one half of the name game. The other half? There are exactly 100 diverse combinations of ingredients to choose from. Long story short, this is not the place for indecision.
Lucky for the choosy, individual Montaditos range in cost from $1.50 (Original) to $3.50 (Gourmet), so you can order a wide variety with the idea of sampling and cheaply finding something you love. Even better: bring friends. I went in a party of two, and we were easily the smallest group there. 100M was one of the liveliest restaurants I’ve ever visited. Throughout the mere hour we stayed, countless groups just getting off work would stop by for sangria and montaditos, each party sharing a massive platter of tiny sandwiches.
So the atmosphere is great and the price is right – but what about the food? Our party of two ordered 4 montaditos, a pitcher of sangria, and at the behest of a neighboring table, a massive cone of fries (“you can’t not order them”; ok, Don Corleone). In an instant, two trays full of chips and sandwiches appeared on the table. I do mean an instant. Even at the peak of dinner hour, it was a mere 5 minutes from order to service. If you hate to wait, you’ll love 100M.
But we’re getting distracted again! Now, the real moment of truth. As my friend and I traded bites of the two-bite sandwiches, we reflected on all the events in our lives that had brought us to 100M. Or so I think. Either way, a contented silence fell over our corner of Bleecker St. Here was a garden table, serving up cheap sharable plates in the heart of downtown… and it was really, really good.
The ingredients were fresh, the bread was delicious, and the Spanish staples were mixed in inspired combinations that made each bite the culinary equivalent of a Eurrail pass. My personal favorite: serrano ham, brie, and fresh green pepper on ciabatta, served up for a mere $3.00. We didn’t order any of the “Gourmet” montaditos, but it was hard to imagine the food getting much better for the cost. By the end of the meal, I was a true believer.
For the adventurous, 100M also offers a “Sweet” montadito menu full of – wait for it - dessert sandwiches. The options on tap, however, extend far beyond “ice cream.” A table next to ours ordered a hazelnut spread montadito that came packed with whipped cream slathered on 100M’s special “chocolate bread” recipe.
Just imagine a 4-inch long cylinder of dark brown bread sealed with hazelnut spread. I think Bill Murray shut down a pool with one in Caddyshack.
Jokes aside, it looked delicious and smelled even better. Were I not full of serrano ham and fruity sangria, I’d have done dessert here in a heartbeat- I'm sure it would've made the perfect shareable complement to an impressive meal.
Overall, I was thoroughly blown away by 100 Montaditos. It made a fun, shareable dinner for two, and dollars-per-yum, it simply can’t be beat. Grab a friend (or two, or 100) and work through the menu. You won’t regret it, and neither will your wallet. In other words, it’s perfecto.