Hamlet revels in serving little more than precisely sourced cured pig meat, seven kinds—“vertically sliced or hand-carved,” dished up naked on a plate. Oh, you can get some mixed warm olives (your server will ID every kind), a hammy sandwich, or a perfect cocktail shaken with a sole purpose: to make you crave more of the rosy, salty pork. Honestly? I expected to hate this place. The name alone inspires murderous thoughts and bad puns. And yet, though this be madness, there is method in it: giving the world’s best hams the spotlight, in a space tailor-made for wallowing, we’re powerless against Hamlet’s genuine charms. To swine own self be true, baby.
Bartender/co-owner Ryan Magarian’s cocktails are graceful, fruit-proud, and floral—qualities largely banished by today’s barrel-aging bartenders. His Iberian Road Soda gathers good tequila, soft sherry, beautiful French rose liqueur, deep cherry tones, and a little oyster sea breeze into one tall, effervescent glass. Ham or no, a drink not to miss.
One of the year’s best-kept secrets: Spanish Toast, a super-satisfying omelet oozing hot potatoes, punchy cheese, and ’nduja (Italy’s spreadable spicy salami), flopped over aioli-glazed toast. It’s patatas bravas, croque madame, and breakfast for dinner, all at once.
Hamlet’s playlist saunters from Iowa’s silky La Quercia Acorn Tamworth prosciutto to Virginia’s hickory-fuming Surryano ham. But the best of breed is Spain’s prized 48-month-aged Iberico de Bellota. This is pure pork bling, a bucket-list bite, all beautiful marbled fat and meaty richness. Alternate bites with the fab cream biscuits. Die happy.