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Cape Fear Foodie: Talkin’ Tapas

Tapas, sangria and fun with friends when you visit Mariposa Tapas Bar in Wilmington, NC.
Tapas, sangria and fun with friends when you visit Mariposa Tapas Bar in Wilmington, NC.(WECT)
Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 9:02 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Welcome back for round two of Cape Fear Foodie, the past week has been a whirlwind of readers and restaurants reaching out about the new blog and its ability to shine a positive light on our friends in the hospitality industry.

That’s what it’s all about, folks! I encourage each one of you to send me a note about your favorite place to grab a bite to eat, or relax with a drink.

Speaking of grabbing a bite to eat and enjoying a cold beverage, how about some Spanish tapas?

What are “tapas?” They’re essentially appetizers or small plates. Typically you would have to sail the ocean blue and land in the beautiful port towns of Spain to get traditional tapas, but the Port City has plenty of options.

There are several well known tapas bars around town, each with their own devoted following (trust me, we will get to them all down the road), but lets focus all of our foodie energy on the new...

Mariposa Tapas Bar

...it’s in Wilmington’s bustling South Front District.

Mariposa Tapas Bar is located on the corner of Third Street and Greenfield Street in...
Mariposa Tapas Bar is located on the corner of Third Street and Greenfield Street in Wilmington's South Front district.(WECT)

Chef Bobby Zimmerman, from the famed True Blue Butcher & Table, opened the restaurant in the old Love, Lydia Bakery location on the corner of Third and Greenfield streets.

Step inside and Mariposa bursts with energy, a fun environment for a quick trip with friends, or you can choose the more intimate outdoor seating under string lighting.

Chef Zimmerman says he likes the food and the atmosphere to speak for itself, and lucky for us, Mariposa does just that.

The menu is hefty, with plenty of items to suit every taste. Want a charcuterie board? Check. How about seafood? Check. Looking for a perfectly cooked steak? It’s there too. Plus there are varied vegetarian options and more olives than Mt. Olive (insert bad regional joke here).

Albondigas is a traditional tapas dish featuring a beef & chorizo meatball smothered in savory...
Albondigas is a traditional tapas dish featuring a beef & chorizo meatball smothered in savory tomato sauce and olive oil.(WECT)

Luckily I was able to try just about everything on the menu (remember how I said I gained a few pounds?) and I must say, you should too.

When you’re seated, you’re given a small tasting plate with an olive, a piece of Spanish cheese and some cured meat. It’s a great way to ease you in for the flavor adventure you’re about to embark on.

Mariposa offers both red and white sangria, a full wine list, craft beer options and...
Mariposa offers both red and white sangria, a full wine list, craft beer options and handcrafted cocktails.(WECT)

From there I would say grab a meat and cheese board and carafe of sangria (the white is good but I prefer the red. Mariposa also offers wine, craft beer and cocktails). We tried the Tabla De Quesos y Embutidos, (cheese & charcuterie board) which was loaded with various cheeses, delicious meats like Iberico chorizo, plus mounds of olives, pickled peppers and delicious Marcona almonds.

Next up was a smattering of plates, ranging from Pulpo (charred octopus, chorizo and potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) to Albondigas (beef and chorizo meatballs smothered in tomato sauce) and Solomillo Con Cabrales (beef tenderloin with blue cheese chunks and Manzanilla olives).

Mariposa offers a wide variety of seafood options from tuna to shrimp, or this Pulpo dish,...
Mariposa offers a wide variety of seafood options from tuna to shrimp, or this Pulpo dish, which features charred octopus.(WECT)

I’ve also included pictures of the Gambas Al Ajillo (shrimp with chilis and pickled peppers) and a our favorite dessert of the night, flan (though all of their sweets are excellent in their own right.)

You will want to save room for a plate of this exquisite flan from Mariposa Tapas Bar.
You will want to save room for a plate of this exquisite flan from Mariposa Tapas Bar.(WECT)

Plus, Mariposa honors the True Blue tradition of $5 burger night on Wednesdays (4 p.m. - 7 p.m.). The Bocadillo Burger is simplistic in nature, with American cheese, onion, tomato, and lettuce with a special sauce on a great bocadillo roll.

What is Cape Fear Foodie without a burger shout-out? This Bocadillo Burger is worth your...
What is Cape Fear Foodie without a burger shout-out? This Bocadillo Burger is worth your time...especially during the $5 special.(WECT)

But it’s a burger done right and pairs perfectly with a plate of Patatas Bravas (fried fingerling potatoes with a creamy aioli sauce and a savory red sauce.)

This may seem like flavor overload with a variety of dishes you’ve likely never tried (or heard of)...and that’s alright, Chef Zimmerman wants you to expand your palate and enjoy your experience...and we can all say “salud” to that.

PRO TIPS:

1) Take some friends! Tapas are meant to be shared, so grab your friends or family. Not only do you get to delight in the look of your friend enjoying their first bite of charred octopus, you get to talk about the various flavor profiles on the table.

2) Make a reservation. Mariposa is quickly becoming a popular spot on the Wilmington food scene. The kitchen offers brunch, lunch and dinner, so there are plenty of times to make a visit...and each menu is a different than the other. So it’s best to grab a reservation, so you’re not left salivating over the plates of those that put their name down.

3) Speaking of friends AND reservations, Mariposa offers a “Segovian Suckling Pig Experience.” What is that? Google it, just make sure you don’t drool over your phone. You’ll want to call a week ahead of time for this feast, but something tells me it would be worth the wait. Anyone want to tagalong to try it?

IF YOU GO:

Mariposa is located at 1502 South Third Street. To make it easy, it’s next to Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria and across the street from The Harp near Greenfield Lake.

Do you recommend a restaurant? Or know of a best kept secret that you want the rest of the Cape Fear to know about? Shoot me an email at corey.preece@gray.tv and I would love to feature your selection. Cheers!

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