St. John’s tapas bar Boca is bringing an authentic taste of Spain to the oldest city in North America, delivering inviting eats and an unbeatable atmosphere


Stepping through the charming, rustic door to Boca in the heart of downtown St. John’s, you quite feasibly could make the argument that you’ve been transported to Spain.

Gone is the aroma of saltwater and deep-fried fare, replaced by rich, lush breaths of the most inviting kind of kick to the pallet-goodness.

Boca tapas bar in St. John’s lives on the policy of combining fantastic food and drink, with great conversation and good times, the perfect marriage for happy customers and a thriving business.

“Our philosophy was that the table is for sharing food, sharing conversation and for sharing bebidas, or drinks,” says Derek Locke, one of the three owners (alongside Lorne Loder and Jeff Cook) of Boca during a Herald visit to their thriving harbourside location.

“An authentic Spanish tapas bar wasn’t done here. We feel we’re very authentic. All of our main ingredients come from Spain and we spend a lot of time sourcing Spanish goods. We’re being very true to our brand. We have Spanish food, Spanish wine and a Spanish style of eating.”

Boca specializes in small plates and traditional Spanish favourites. From the irresistible patatas bravas – the best fried potatoes you’ll have this side of a lifetime – to inviting varieties of the snackable delicacies pintxos, mouthwatering charcuterie boards and a wine list that would put your local vineyard to shame, Boca has all the trappings of the next go-to hotspot for foodies and those looking for a reprieve from tired nights out. That recommendation comes from much more than just the food.  

“Almost everyone leaving now are giving such praise to our staff,” Locke shares. “The staff are very much engaged in our concept and our philosophy and in the customers want to have a good time. So far the staff have really bought in and have been such a big part of those good reviews.”

“We’ve taken those reviews and constructive criticisms and delivered back,” adds manager Laura Costigan. “We’ve had requests for a lunch menu and bigger plates to share and we delivered that. We take all of that and turn it into positives.”

Throw in some live entertainment by guitar virtuoso Heirrito Onelvis, mid-week dancing lessons and a fun and inviting environment, and Boca may just be St. John’s soon-to-be-discovered best kept secret.

“We’ve carved a very different social and cultural niche,” says Locke. “I think if you walked in here on a busy night you will feel like you’ve left Newfoundland for a second and transported to a different cultural experience altogether.”

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