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.
Kitchen has become one of our new favorites and each time we go we wonder why we hadn’t tried it sooner. It is a wonderful neighborhood gem nestled in a strip mall next to a laundry mat. The space is intimate with a bar for seating for ~10 people, one larger 6 top table, and about 10-12 other 4 and 2 tops. The tables and space are simple but thoughtfully decorated with chefs white aprons signed by local chefs. The couple behind the restaurant are Dick and Sue Barrows who have been in the restaurant business for years. Dick is the chef and runs the kitchen. Sue manages the front of the restaurant with a warm friendliness that makes you feel as though you have come to their home for dinner. The space is small and they don’t take reservations however, you can take your glass of wine or beverage over to the wonderful independent, Flyleaf Books, as you wait for a table.
As I have suggested before, it is necessary to have a couple of default options where you can get a good beer and some delicious food. I have heard so much about the Federal (the ‘Fed’ if you are local!) as being this type of an option but have only recently tried it. The décor is a typical pub, with a wooden bar just as you walk in and several tables and booths. The bar area can get quite crowded as people wait for tables and enjoy their beers. There is a separate quieter dining area in the back with about 5 tables. We met a friend there early, 6pm, on a Saturday night before heading to a concert. She had been several times before and wisely, got us table in the back room before we arrived.
One of my favorite things about this area is how closely connected we can be to farms and fresh meats and produce. There are so many farms close to the population centers that you can’t help but find local seasonal foods. But, what is even better is that these foods are available in other venues than typical restaurants. One of my favorite is options is the Boxcarr Farm dinners at 3 Cups inChapel Hill. 3 Cups is a fantastic wine, coffee, and tea shop which offers so much more. They are a part of the community offering a space for CSA pick ups, hosting food trucks in the parking lot, and hosting farm dinners. On the first and third Friday’s of the month, Austin and Dani of Boxcarr Farms offer six small plates for $6.50 each or $35 for all six.
Revolution is one of the many restaurants in Durham which garners rave reviews and I have wanted to try it for some time. We took in an early movie on a Friday afternoon at the lovely Carolina Theater and headed over to Revolution for dinner. It is a beautifully renovated space on Main St. that is decorated primarily in white with a few splashes of color. As you enter the space is divided in two, the right is set up with tables and booths and to the left is a large bar which has a ‘U’ shape. It was a busy night with pre-theater diners so we found seats at the lively bar. One wall of the bar is decorated with a beautiful floral tile mosaic which softens the sparse white space. The cocktail list is impressive and we each settled on an option from the list. It was a very busy evening at the bartender was a bit rushed and not too helpful in describing the drinks we asked about.
Studio 91 is a wine bar/art gallery in the same plaza as Jujube. It is a fun concept where you can taste some great wines and also enjoy the work of various artists. The space is intimate with about 5 tall tables (2 of which are larger for groups) and a lounge area with a couple of couches. The tables are all custom-made and filled with wine corks. On the walls hang the art pieces which are currently on display. In the back there is a membership only lounge with more couches and a couple of TVs.
G2B is a grastropub which is awkwardly located on the backside of an office park at Shannon Rd. and University Dr. in Durham. We went early on a Saturday evening for a light dinner before heading to a holiday party. While, we were early it was almost empty when we arrived. Like its sister restaurant ONE, the space is über modern. The sleek leather chairs are paired with simple polished wood tables. The lighting is dim and accented by constantly changing colored lights which varies the overall mood of the space. The open kitchen is set off to once corner with a lounge area of couches and a gaming station between it and the bar. In the center there is a white counter with several, maybe about 15, beers on tap. Over all it is fun, funky, yet upscale space.