This is an unusual spot for Providence, R.I., a city known more for its seafood, cold winters, and being home to both an Ivy League and an arts school. 

By maybe that’s why Flan y Ajo is such a good fit. This tapas restaurant only has four stools, and doesn’t take reservations. I found it by wandering by. I was lucky – there were two stools open that night, so my boyfriend and I sat down. 

At first, we thought the restaurant might be closing for the night because no one else was inside. But then Siobhan Maria Etxebarria – one half of the couple that owns the restaurant – stepped behind the counter, which doubles as our table. After asking us our food likes and dislikes, and our allergies, she started making our meal. 

A basket of bread came first, then olives, then cheeses, then meats. We’d ask Etxeberria what they were. Sometimes she only knew the item’s name in Spanish. We ate until we were full – and then some. The menu changes per what they bring in from around the world.  

If Etxeberria isn’t behind the counter, it’s most likely her other half, Diego Luis Perez, doing the cooking. Ask him about growing up and learning how to cook in Spain. It’s the perfect dinner time conversation – for both sides of the counter. 

Also, Flan y Ajo is BYOB, so if you want to drink, stop in at Eno Fine Wine and Spirits next door. Tell them you’re visiting their neighbors, and they’ll pick out something to match.