Tapas. What a joy to indulge finger food in the shape of small, spanish dishes, at a tiny bar counter in Barcelona. Perhaps with some cava?
I have gathered eight authentic, traditional tapas restaurants, or rather bars, in the centre of Barcelona: El Born and Barri Gotic. Those places are popular; you will bump into loads of people – hence always fresh tapas – and a relaxed atmosphere.
In northern Spain, consequently Barcelona, tapas often come in the shape of pinchos. Pinchos are in effect the small sticks or toothpicks that keep everything that you can possible place on a piece of bread in place. On departure, the amount of sticks is counted and payed together with the number of glasses of beer or wine one has consumed.
This is a truly sympathetic way of socializing and eating. Bare in mind that evenings start late in Spain, locals arrive towards 21.00 and later. This is on the other hand quite good if you have earlier lunch and dinner habits, since you will at least be able to squeeze yourself into some of the most popular bars.
Start at Euscal Etxea at Placeta Montcada 1 with a tremendous variety of inexpensive pinchos and a lively environment. You just order your drinks, get a plate and go pick whatever looks nice on the counters. The spanish omelette, tortilla pincho with pimento sauce is a favourite.
Slightly opposite on the narrow pedestrian street, there are fantastic opportunities to get to know locals, hanging around for a beer or a glass of the delicious home made cava that has given the cool and really genuine El Xampanyet it’s name. The place fills up one minute after opening, so be prepared to fight even to enter the door.
And again, in front of El Xampanyet, there is slightly more posh, expensive, touristic and gastronomy oriented Tapeo with chef Daniel Rueda. Order two or three tapas, and just ask for more if you are still not full. I just loved the mini-gourmet veal burgers with truffle mayonnaise and the cod fritters.
Even more for the perfect location than food, Le Cercle is still worth a recommendation thanks to it’s huge, outside terrace with lush green trees and plants. The terrace of Le Cercle is to be found one floor up, which provides fresh air and perfect views over Carrer dels Arcs and the surrounding squares and avenidas. The Dali museum is right under the terrace. You can enjoy spanish tapas and some interesting japanese cross over tapas, including sea food.
Equally for it’s attractive outside terrace, on square-like Carrer Argenteria, Sagardi BCN Gotic, serves meat from the huge maturing live stock hanging in the butcher’s window and various tapas.
Like a time capsule from the late 1960’ies and early 1970’ies, Bar Del Pla, on Carrer de Montcada is a local, low key tapas bar with focus on fish and seafood like sardines and potatoe croquettes with ham.
And do skip dessert. Instead, go buy an ice cream at Gelaaati! on Llibreteria 7. The variety and choice of flavours is tremendous with only natural ingredients. The chocolate and hazelnut-Nutella-flavour is a bliss and the mojito sorbet very cooling. Feel free to try before you make up your mind. Then stroll around enjoying your ice cream in this astonishing town: Barcelona.
At last: go enjoy a good nights sleep at excellent Hotel DO Reial, also hosting a nice restaurant on the placa itself, of course with great upscale tapas.