STUTTGART, Germany — My teeth were chattering and my stomach was roaring.

But I still felt finicky as I wandered around looking for a place to warm myself and fill my belly. As I slid around on the icy sidewalks, I only knew what I didn’t want. This was definitely not the day for schnitzel, spätzle or any other gut-busting German dish. With the temperature hovering somewhere in the mid-20s, I wanted to pretend I was someplace else.

That’s when I stumbled upon a little Spanish restaurant in downtown Stuttgart called Cortijo. It’s a hole in the wall kind of place and not all that impressive looking from the outside. But the sign that advertised tapas on the menu caught my eye.

Something Mediterranean sounded like just the antidote to the miserable German winter weather.

And I must say Cortijo hit the spot.

I warmed up with a 6-euro bowl of Spanish garlic soup, which packed quite a punch. I could still smell it all over me hours later, but it tasted great.

Then I had the tapas served warm. It was a mix of meats and seafood and vegetables. Perhaps not your usual combo — garlic soup and tapas, but it was delicious. At 18 euros, it wasn’t exactly a cheap meal. But by city standards, not unreasonable either.

There’s plenty else to choose from at Cortijo, which also has a full-service bar. The restaurant has an especially wide range of seafood dishes on the menu. The wine list was long and varied as well.

Complementing the flavors is the restaurant’s easygoing atmosphere. There is nothing fancy about Cortijo. It’s rustic food served in rustic surroundings with flamenco music playing in the background.

The decor, which consists of a few haphazardly arranged paintings and pictures, actually seemed more like an afterthought.

The restaurant is more than an eatery. There’s also a small stage in the back corner where musicians perform each night starting at 8 p.m. My waiter told me it is flamenco music every night except for Wednesdays. That’s when they mix it up with some salsa.

I was too early for the music on my visit, but it’ll be worth a return trip.

If you go, don’t be shy. Just seat yourself at a table and someone from the friendly staff will be around to serve you.

Cortijo Stuttgart, Germany

Hours: Sunday- Thursday: 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.; Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 a.m.Live music performances: 8 p.m. every nightDress: CasualPrice: Between 10 and 20 euros per entree.English menu: YesClientele: Mainly GermanLocation: 10 Eberhardstrasse.Web Site:www.cortijo.dePhone: 0711/243 221

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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