Kaya’s Closing. ¡Vivan las tapas (y margaritas)!

kayasFirst time I went to Kaya’s was as a participant of a belly dancing group run by a local adult school teacher slash Chatham mom at the time. Small BYOBs like Kayas are usually dark, black holes to me because I have a serious case of Celiac’s disease. Health-nut hipster I am not. Wheat gluten literally wears away at my insides (I’m not using “literally” figuratively here). So I tend to stay away from tiny, owner/chef restaurants. A chef’s job is hard enough on any given night. They don’t need a needy diner to boot.

But I shouldn’t have waited. The dinner Mr. Hawthorne of Kaya’s presented was amazing. My meal was made just for me, with many of the similar ingredients to what the other diners were having. It was just scrumptious. I cleared my plate. Then I got up and did some belly dancing, in a room of mostly middle-aged white women. Fun times.

Sorry to say that Kaya’s just announced that they are closing, and some other outfit is coming to take over their lease. Unfortunately, it is a restaurant where I probably won’t bother eating, as many of the traditional items contain mucho gluten.

La Tez will be a tapas restaurant. Not familiar with tapas? It’s basically fancy snack food to munch on while you drink. The main point of a tapas place is to drink (and chat. But mostly to drink). But here’s where it gets interesante: La Tez is a Bring-your-own-boozle (not fighting the bottle vs. booze war here) establishment. The restaurant will provide the margarita mix ingredients (no alcohol therein) and we the customer are to provide the tequila. Which, as it so happens, contains 0% gluten. Which makes it one of my most preferred liqueurs. Which I had too much of last month to celebrate my birthday…

Anyhoo! Here’s what wikipedia has to say about the origin of “tapas:”

The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover”.

According to The Joy of Cooking, the original tapas were the slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry… The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners began creating a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales.The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry.

So listen, H-Townies, when you go to the new La Tez and they ask you if you want tapas, they are not asking you if you want your drink topped off. You may want your drink topped off, surely. But that is not what these particular people will be asking you. We’re getting multi-cultured company, people. Straighten it up.

Remember: Tapas=fancy finger food snacks. They are kind of like those appetizers at your cousin’s wedding that weren’t enough to combat the copious amount of beer you were imbibing during the “cocktail” hour. But unlike those little wieners in rolls they gave you on toothpicks at the 12 Caesars a decade ago, tapas are hearty and plenty enough that you can make a whole meal out them. You just order a bunch of plates for the table. Then you chow down and drink up.

We here at Havertownies have a sneaking suspicion that La Tez will be the new after hours weeknight hangout for the moms.

Philly.com reports that March 29th is the last day for Kayas. I hope the Hawthornes have a great life ahead of them and they know how much we loved them. Thanks, Hawthornes!

Long live La Tez! (Hopefully someone fills them in on the Brookline Haverford Spring Fest coming up in May.)