Earlier this year, G and I were lucky enough to spend a week eating in and exploring Barcelona! It is a fantastic city and I am finally getting a chance to write up my copious notes into blog posts. I thought I’d start with some thoughts on tapas as they are ubiquitous in Barcelona! There are tapas bars all over the city; some small quaint hole-in-wall joints to larger, stylish restaurants. Tapas are small dishes which were originally provided free with the purchase of drinks. Now they range from the traditional small bites to small plates style dishes. Tapas are a great dining option because you can sample several flavors and items and not have a huge meal, especially when you are on the go. During our week stay in Barcelona we were able to try several tapas bars and I thought I would highlight three of our experiences.
Our first day in town we were walking around the neighborhood near our hotel to get familiar with the area and noticed that Tapas 24 was just a few blocks from our hotel. It seemed like a perfect dinner option since it was local after a long day of flying. We headed over around 8:30pm and there was a line out of the basement restaurant. The line moved quickly and we were seated in about 15 minutes. The restaurant is the least formal of the restaurants of the four by Chef Carles Abellan, an alumni of El Bulli. The tapas served here offer a nice combination of more traditional and unique, contemporary options. We started with a simple bowl of patatas bravas. The crispy fries covered in a spicy tomato sauce and a garlic aioli were wonderfully addictive. The Bikini Comerç 24, which is a grilled sandwich with jamón ibérico, a white cheese, and shavings of black truffle. It was a delicious combination of flavors! The McFoie Burger, which is a thin beef patty grilled in a thin bun and served with a foie gras sauce, was decadent. While tasty it was just a bit too rich for my palate! We also tried a delicious plate of jamón ibérico which we enjoyed with a tapas staple of bread with a light tomato sauce. Finally, for dessert we enjoyed the xocolata, which was three scoops of chocolate mousse garnished with delicate thin toasted bread, olive oil and sea salt. This was absolutely delicious! The sea salt emphasized the sweetness of the mousse and the olive oil added to the rich mouth-feel of dessert. Overall, Tapas 24 was a great introduction into the world of tapas in Barcelona!
Quimet y Quimet
This is a much loved institution in the El Poble-sec neighborhood at the bottom of the Montjuic hill. It is a tiny hole in the wall bar with a few standing tables and a small bar. The walls are filled floor to ceiling with bottles of wine and spirits. It is a beautiful sight! Hearing that the crowds can be ridiculous with extremely long lines we went for an early lunch, arriving around 1pm and were one of two couples in the bar. The focus of the tapas here is local canned seafood. The most popular option is to have the seafood served as Montaditos, which are small bite-sized, open faced sandwiches. We tried two montaditos – the bacalo with an olive tapendae and the sardines with red peppers and cream cheese. We also tried the meat sampler plate which included some jamon and a couple of different pate types of items. Everything was served with bread and olives. To be honest, we were not that impressed by the canned seafood. The flavors were just a bit too strong for us even though they were tempered with the other flavors (tapanade, red peppers, etc). I guess I am glad that we tried it since it is a Barcelona institution but I would prefer to enjoy the wonderful fresh seafood options that the region offers.
We walked to Paco Meralgo from our hotel on our last night in Barcelona. It is a larger tapas restaurant which actually takes reservations. It is a beautifully modern space with light oak tables and long bar. The space is divided into a few separate rooms and all the tables are tall bar style with bar stools. We started with the fried anchovies which were fresh and fried perfectly crispy. We then tried the sautéed mushrooms which were delicious! Mushrooms were in season when we were there and offered simply sautéed in lovely olive oil and served with a sprinkle of sea salt at many tapas bars we visited. We also tried the sautéed shrimp which were fantastic! Next we tried the spicy bomba which was wonderful! The bomba was mashed potatoes mixed with meat and some vegetables and then deep fried and served with a nice spicy tomato based sauce. Honestly, it was one of the spiciest dishes we tried in Barcelona where the food tended to be quite plain. Unfortunately, we were too full to try dessert. All the dishes at Paco Meralgo were clean and simply prepared and allowed the freshness of the ingredients and flavors to shine through.
Carrer de la Diputació, 269
934 88 09 77
Quimet y Quimet
Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, 25
934 42 31 42
Calle Muntaner, 171
934 30 90 27