The Boston Phoenix
November 13 - 20, 1997

[Food Reviews]

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Spain reigns in Harvard Square

by Danielle Svetcov

A steaming casserole filled with spicy paella sits on every tabletop at Iruña. Okay, almost every tabletop. It's the best deal at this little restaurant, tucked in a Cambridge alleyway across from the Janus Theater. The ingredients of this classic Spanish stew -- jumbo shrimp, assorted fish, mussels, clams, sausage, peas, chicken, egg slices, and saffron rice -- are rich and spicy from hours of simmering, and Iruña's version is piled high enough for two ($11.50 including soup and salad). While the paella's cooking, there's plenty to look at in this cozy room, with its fading checkered wallpaper; you can watch cooks bent over the stove, mumbling epithets in Spanish, as waitresses lean against the doorstop waiting to juggle little plates of tapas through the maze of tables. The tapas cost $4 to $6 each: if you're still hungry after the paella, try an omelet (around $6, depending on the filling). And don't forget the sangria, spiked with fruits and a hint of sugar. At $10 a pitcher, it'll have you toasting the posters of cloaked bullfighters in no time.

Iruña, located at 56 John F. Kennedy Street, in Cambridge, is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m.; on Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 6 to 10 p.m., and on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 5 to 10 p.m. Call (617) 868-5633.


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