Fiesta time!

For Latin lovers, of food, La Boca may well steal your heart.

For Latin lovers, of food, La Boca restaurant may well steal your heart (photo credit: PR)
For Latin lovers, of food, La Boca restaurant may well steal your heart
(photo credit: PR)
What’s nice about this country is that no matter what kind of food you’re in the mood for, there is a wide array of restaurants that offer the kind of cuisine you’re craving. If your hankering tends toward Latin food, there is a restaurant in Jerusalem that is designed to please your palate.
La Boca, on the capital’s trendy Emek Refaim Street, runs the entire gamut of Latino fare. Be it Spanish, Mexican, Cuban, Brazilian or South American, La Boca’s diverse menu spans the territory.
Chef and owner Guy Kimhi comes from 11 generations of Jerusalemites that trace their history back 500 years to Spain.
A trip to South America after the army whetted his appetite for cooking Latin cuisine, he says. He studied the craft, worked at a number of high-end restaurants in Israel and opened La Boca nine years ago.
“It’s hard work, but I love it,” says the 35-year-old chef.
And it shows.
The elegant, tastefully designed restaurant is situated up a long flight of stairs.
“I wanted to be street front but away from the traffic and the noise,” Kimhi explains.
The spacious restaurant offers a bird’s eye view of the street while creating that elite aura of being far from the madding crowd. And the upbeat Latin music sets the tone for a festive fiesta feast.
We were seated near a window and settled into our comfortable leather chairs at our glossy black wooden table. We started off with a mojito from the enticing beverage list and shared the crisp warm bread and spreads (NIS 15) as we awaited the dishes that Kimhi had selected for us to savor.
First up was a salmon ceviche (NIS 65) elegantly served in a stemmed cocktail glass, garnished with thinly sliced apple and a puffed triangular cracker. It was refreshingly tart and tangy.
Next up was the enchilada sushi (NIS 58), which was a plate of delicious discs of chicken and vegetables encrusted with a rim of deep-fried dough.
This was followed by a serving of foie gras (NIS 73) which, like all the selections presented to us, was artistically plated and delicately flavored.
Still enjoying the appetizer menu, we next dipped into the platter of house tapas (NIS 69).
This consisted of a small dish each of chicken fajitas, chorizo, chicken enchiladas and chili con carne. Delicioso! On the main course menu, something I was really eager to sample was the paella (NIS 68/78). I lived in Spain for several months many years ago, and paella was one of my favorite dishes, so I couldn’t wait to savor that unique flavor once again.
The paella at La Boca -- the traditional dish of rice, cooked vegetables and strips of chicken and beef -- was very good, but it didn’t have that distinctive flavor that I remember so well.
”It has an Israeli touch to it,” Kimhi acknowledges.
To round off the main course menu, we had a sampling of the filet mignon in wine sauce (NIS 162). Thick and tender, served with caramelized pearl onions and a sweet sauce, it was a beautiful dish. Full, but never too full for dessert, we chose three items from the dessert menu to complete our exquisite meal: the three-layered tricolor chocolate mousse; the apple tart with vanilla sorbet garnished with thin ribbons of halva; and the delectable little churros with a cream filling. The desserts were fabulous. Rich, creamy and delicious, these parve delights were better than many a dessert I have had at dairy restaurants.
Overall, dining at La Boca is a wonderful experience. Tasteful, elegant and diverse, it is well worth the climb up that flight of stairs.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
La Boca
46 Emek Refaim, Jerusalem
Tel: (02) 563-5577