Monday, June 22, 2009

Tapas - Basic - Part 2

If you're on your way to Barcelona, you'll be happy to know that the heat has broken and the rage-meter is again ticking along at a reasonable level, somewhere between slight misanthropy and grudging contentment. You might also benefit from the remaining recommendations in the basic tapas category.

I wouldn't necessarily think of these spots as the burnished steeds of Barcelona tapas; they're more like the work horses, really--serviceable, hard working and, generally, very busy.

Cerveseria Catalana (C/ Mallorca 236, tel. 932 160 368, Eixample)- I have to confess that--partly because of its convenient location, partly because Felipe and I are now morning regulars and it would be a shame to mess with that relationship--Cerveseria Catalana is my go-to place for inexpensive tapas of reliable quality. It's also the go-to place for half of Barcelona. In the summer, you'll find crowds spilling out onto the side walk. Because of the high turn over, there's nothing stale or sub-par here and the tapas basics, as well as the montaditos, which are put out at around 6pm and priced at a bargain 1.25 euros for the most part, are a thorough survey of the traditional favourites; seafood dishes and daily specials are usually especially tasty. Cerveseria Catalana is also handy because it opens at around 830am (9am on weekends) and stays open right through to midnight; useful if you've missed the usual lunch hour (130pm-400pm) or if you want to eat dinner earlier than the average Spaniard (i.e. before 930pm-10pm). Bar seats are hunt and swoop; for an indoor table, you have to give your name to the hostess, who will call you when your table is ready; there's a separate list for outdoor tables, maintained by one of the men in blue at the door. If you arrive after 9pm, the wait can be as long as an hour for a table, but you can always order a few drinks from the bar while you're waiting. (By the way, Ciudad Condal, a little further down Rambla Catalunya and under the same ownership, has similar tapas offerings and a terrace well suited to people watching, but for some reason, I never seem to end up there.)

Bar Mundial (Plaça de Sant Agusti Vell 1, tel. 933 199 056, Born) - When I took my sister and her boyfriend to Bar Mundial last year, the first few minutes in the low ceilinged back room of this scruffy joint provoked some purse-lipped disapproval. Things changed, however, when the steaming parillada, a mixed seafood grill, came out. The seafood is simply, but exquisitely done and is without a doubt Bar Mundial's specialty; in fact, there's little else to choose from on the menu, so don't go if you have an aversion to the beasts of the sea. Bar Mundial does take reservations and it's worth making some on the weekend as it fills up quickly. If you get claustrophobic in poorly ventilated, windowless spaces, ask to be seated in the front room rather than the dingy back.

El Xampanyet (C/ Montcada 22, tel. 933 197 003, Born) - If you've ever walked down the Born's Calle Montcada at night, you've seen the throngs of people (mostly tourists) spilling out of the tiny space that is El Xampanyet. The tapas, mostly conservas, cheeses and cured meats, are not necessarily anything to write home about, but the atmosphere is fun and the house drink, xampanyet (a poor man's cava), is a euro a glass. For that price, don't expect to sit down.

Mam i Teca (C/ de la Lluna 4, tel. 934 413 335, Raval) - Mam i Teca is a tiny hole in the wall in the Raval with a mostly local clientele, meaning that the expats of the Raval frequent it, rather than the tourists of the Barrio Gotico. In contrast to the three bars above, it's often quiet during the week and on Sunday evenings. And, while the regular menu has some very pedestrian pastas and other dull offerings, the daily specials are always worth the trek into the depths of the Raval.

La Bodegueta (Rambla de Catalunya 100, Eixample) - La Bodegueta has a dusty charm that's not typical of the usually upscale Eixample. In summer, its terrace is normally full, but there's often room in the cozy interior. In addition to serving reasonably priced plates of cured meats and cheeses, La Bodegueta does fabulous patatas bravas (cubed, french fried potatoes topped with spicy and mild sauces) and mouth watering huevos estrellados over fried potatoes ("smashed eggs", as they say).

I might also mention that Taller de Tapas ( and Lonja de Tapas/Celler de Tapas (, both Barcelona chains, generally offer traditional tapas of solid quality practically around the clock and have useful locations throughout the Old Town and along the Rambla Catalunya, for when your energy is flagging and you're wondering where to go in a pinch. Don't order patatas bravas at Taller de Tapas, though, the last ones I had there were absolutely terrible.


Lynn said...

My hubby and I will be in Barcelona the first week of September, staying in the Gothic area. I read your posts about tapas but could you recommend tapas bars/restaurants you like that would be within about a 20 minute walk from this area? And please any other tips you would like to impart on a fellow foodie!!!

Barcelona Food Girl said...

All of the Boquería bars, Bar Mundial, Cal Pep, El Xampanyet, Cuines Santa Caterina, Bar Lobo and Ginger, which I will be writing about in another post, are in the Gothic/Born areas and within easy walking access from anywhere in the Old Town. Mam i Teca is in the Raval, which is also close to the Gothic area. Tapaç24 is in the lower Eixample and within easy access of the Old Town; it's related to Comerç24, which is in the Born and also an excellent, if somewhat more expensive, choice. All of the above are described in more detail in this month's Tapas posts. For more high end experiences, in addition to Comerç24, I like Cinc Sentits, Alkimia, Gaig, and Moo. Outside of Barcelona, Celler de Can Roca in Girona is phenomenal.

Rome Paul said...

I have bee to a few of the tapas bars you mention including Taller de Tapas, which is one of my favourites in Barcelona.

I have found that tapas in Barcelona can be quite different to some other parts of Spain, such as Madrid - a bit like the variations between food in each region of Italy. Have you found this?