No matter how frequently you visit, there is always something new to discover at Forte Tapas in the heart of Spring Valley. A piece of eclectic art you haven’t noticed. A dish like the decadent bacon-wrapped Marcona-stuffed dates. Oh, you haven’t tried Gypsy Milk yet? Taste this; you’re in for a treat.
Nina Manchev opened Forte Tapas in 2009 at the age of 23 in an area previously besieged by chains and drive-thrus. Since then, her blend of Spanish small plates and Eastern European specialties has found a devoted following that’s grown almost as fast as the surrounding neighborhoods. The interior provides plenty of conversation topics that make for a great first-date spot. There’s a bust of Beethoven painted in a Calavera style. The unusual-looking object that greets you from a stool when you walk in (it is Bulgarian burl wood) engenders many questions and even more comparisons. You can drink and dine at the bar, the counter, or in the dining room. When weather permits, the patio provides yet another option.
Forte’s specialty cocktails feature a wide range of refreshing options. The Mojito Forte is its take on a classic that is woefully underappreciated in the States. The Forte Jackass combines ginger-infused vodka with lime and ginger beer akin to a ginger-forward Moscow Mule (get the name now?). The aforementioned Gypsy Milk features the house-made vodka-infused “Gypsy Juice” shaken with fresh citrus and a splash of ginger beer. If you prefer a more straightforward cocktail, the Dirty KGB Martini is your standard dirty vodka martini. A full bar is available for guests who have their personal favorites, and Biljana is an excellent mixologist, as well as server and manager. Forte also offers wines by both the glass and bottle, sangria by the glass or pitcher, and a selection of beers.
Forte Tapas is the kind of place where the first few items you try usually become what you order every time. That’s a testament to how good so many of the dishes are, but also unfortunate because of the wide variety available to experience. Fortunately, sharing is a great way to experience tapas in general, and many of the plates at Forte. The stuffed mini sweet peppers, chock-full of seasoned pork and topped with a yogurt-dill sauce, are a perfect example. The stroganoff fries (think European-style poutine) and gambas al ajillo (sauteed large shrimp) are great examples of dishes ideal for a table to share.
For the thousands of night shift casino workers in Las Vegas, the Adjarski Khachapurri provides an opportunity to dine with friends and family and have a dish that can pass for breakfast while others enjoy dinner – a point of contention for many! Of course, the dish makes for a delicious dinner as well. It’s a traditional Georgian dish that is part breakfast pizza and part eggs-in-purgatory. It comprises a three-cheese bread baked at a high temperature with an egg cracked in the center before serving. The egg is stirred upon serving, cooking in the bread during the process. If anyone asks the one thing they must have at Forte–or anywhere in the neighborhood–this is the dish I recommend.
Forte Tapas is open Monday through Saturday, 4 to 10 p.m. Happy hour is offered 4 to 6 p.m., featuring $8 tapas and specialty cocktails.
For more information about Forte Tapas, visit www.barforte.com.
4180 S. Rainbow Blvd. Ste. 806
Las Vegas, Nevada 89103