Tapas are hot in the Hudson Valley.
New to the shareable style? Think of it as a mix-and-match menu that allows diners to sample smaller portions of delectable dishes that delight the palate. In Wappingers Falls, tapas are the name of the game at Flores Tapas Bar.
If the name “Flores” sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Rooted in Dutchess County, Flores Food Group owners Austin and Danielle Flores run four Flores Food Trucks, along with a vintage ice cream truck and, most recently, a restaurant.
“There aren’t many places with authentic Spanish tapas-style menus,” observes co-owner Danielle Flores. Along with her husband and the restaurant’s chef, Austin, she debuted Flores Tapas Bar to the Hudson Valley on April 2 to extend the Flores experience to a flagship location. Located centrally on Route 9 in Wappingers Falls, the restaurant is easily accessible from Fishkill, Poughkeepsie, and the village.
“Because we have the food trucks, we already have an established clientele in the Hudson Valley and, more specifically, the Dutchess County area. We chose Wappingers because that is where we found the perfect space,” Flores explains. “The Village of Wappingers has been amazing, and has welcomed us with open arms.”
Inside Flores, diners can step foot into an elevated, relaxed atmosphere that feels on-trend and welcoming. Neon signs set the space aglow, while a well-stocked bar shakes and stirs creative cocktail orders. Local company CLD Enterprises LLC completed the project early this year. Throughout the eatery, Latin pop music plays, adding to the fun and cozy aesthetic the location evokes.
As for the menu, locals can think of it as an extension of the flavorful Spanish fare for which Flores Food Trucks are known. Visitors can mix and match between lighter bites like blistered shishito peppers, pan con tomate, and tostones before moving onto heartier fare like mussels and chorizo, tuna ceviche, and brisket empanadas. For diners who want to experience it all, two “Chef’s Menu” platters offer a taste of the restaurant’s best, with offerings curated by Chef Austin himself.
Tapas might be the main attraction, but entrees are available to share or enjoy solo as well. The churrasco con chimichurri, for instance, is a juicy grilled steak topped with chimichurri and served alongside blistered red peppers. The paellas at Flores are also notable, with seafood, chicken and chorizo, and roasted vegetable options available for every sort of diner. And did we mention dessert? The churros, served with either Nutella or ice cream, are divine, as are the sweet caramel flan and the tres leches cake.
To keep the experience as local as possible, Flores sources many of its ingredients from regional suppliers like Red Barn Produce. It also makes sure to follow COVID-19 safety protocol, including sanitizing tables, adding partitions between tables and bar seats, and ensuring that staff wear masks. All guests must wear masks until seated.
While Flores Tapas Bar is a new venture for the Flores family, it’s far from the only thing they have on their plates now. The couple still runs its food trucks and offers private catering services and food truck catering for events of any size.
It’s quite the operation, but fortunately Chef Austin has more than a little experience when it comes to managing multiple endeavors at once. After starting his career in the food industry at 16 as a chef at a concert venue in his hometown in Ohio, during which time he cooked for performers like Ted Nugent and Taylor Swift, he attended the Culinary Institute of America. During that time, he launched a food truck and promptly fell in love with the food truck business in the Hudson Valley. Before diving into it headfirst, however, he went to Puerto Rico in 2014 to work at Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve. After the chef de cuisine there was let go a few weeks into the culinary training program, Flores stepped into the position before transitioning to a front of the house role and managing multiple restaurants and the hotel’s in-room dining program. From there, he and his family hopped to Maui in 2016 so he could flip the food and beverage program at the Westin Maui and launch a new restaurant, bar, and in-room dining program.
In 2018, he and his family returned to the Hudson Valley, where they launched their food truck business and have lived happily ever since. For Chef Austin, debuting the tapas bar is a dream that he’s envisioned since he first experienced tapas in Puerto Rico.
Looking ahead, the Flores family is excited for all the future holds.
“We are gearing up for our busiest season yet, as well as hitting the ground running with the restaurant,” Danielle Flores enthuses. “We hope to bring an amazing culinary experience to everyone in the Hudson Valley this year.”
Flores Tapas Bar
1659 Rte 9 South, Wappingers Falls