Tapas Time

SouthPark’s newest restaurant wants to liven up your dining experience.

The Spanish word “bulla” literally means noise, but it evokes more than that—a fun and convivial spirit. This kind of lively vibe is the goal for the team behind SouthPark’s newest restaurant, Bulla Gastrobar. And with tables heaped full of tapas, paella, and sangria, the restaurant is on the fast track to become a favorite for those looking for a festive night out.

SouthPark’s Bulla (pronounced boo-ya) is the Florida-based chain’s seventh location. While it’s located in the former Chuy’s Tex-Mex location, its contemporary interior is a far cry from its colorful predecessor. Rustic wooden tables, shiny navy tiles, and cream tones create a simple, but stylish space.

One of the best seats in the house may be at the long marble-topped bar in front of the tall windows. In this bright spot you can watch the creation of menu’s popular cocktails like the vibrant and refreshing Lemongrass Collins ($11), crafted with St. Germain, gin, lemongrass syrup, and cucumber or the amusingly named Bougie Palmer ($12) made with vodka, lemon, oolong tea, and lavender and peach syrup.  

Bulla is serious about every aspect of its dishes and drinks being created from scratch. “Everything is made in house,” says Chef Matthew Turney, who was the Executive Chef at River Run Country Club in Davidson prior to this role. “Like, we don’t buy mayonnaise, we make mayonnaise. There aren’t many places like Bulla in Charlotte—this is unique.”

From cured meats and cheeses to paella and caldoso, the Mediterranean-style dishes here are designed to share. “We actually only have about six entrees on the menu,” says Turney. “And even those are really designed to be shared.”

Start your evening with salty slivers of the acorn-fed Iberica ham ($15) and slices of nutty Manchego cheese ($6.50), paired with a glass of one of the Riojan red wines. “About half of the items on our menu are imported from Spain,” says Turney. “The oils, charcuteries, and cheeses are all from Spain.”

There are more than 20 tapas choices on the extensive menu including traditional options like puffy croquetas ($7) filled with serrano ham and blistered Shishito peppers ($9) topped with flaky sea salt. But the must-order from the tapas list is the Huevos Bulla ($10.50), an adventurous dish featuring crispy homemade potato chips topped with serrano ham, potato foam, truffle oil, and two sunny side up fried eggs. Your server mixes the creamy ingredients in front of you, creating a fragrant and decadent concoction.

If you’re feeling ambitious after the small plates, the oversized pans of classic paella ($39) are designed for sharing and feature a gorgeous display of prawns, clams, and calamari among red sofrito-soaked saffron rice. “Right now, paella is at the top of the list when it comes to popular dishes,” says Turney, who notes that the menu will change seasonally.

The best way to soak in this new spot, though, may be in true Spanish style—lingering over simple, elegant bites like the meats and cheeses alongside pours of a robust wine. For larger meals, indulge in the weekend brunch, which features savory egg dishes as well as sweets like hazelnut waffles ($9) with white chocolate Chantilly.

Whenever you choose to come, bring friends. From the pans of paella to the pitchers of sweet sangria, these dishes are designed for sharing. And, of course, at Bulla, the livelier your group, the better.