Winter’s here and it’s time to turn our backs on the terraces and say goodbye to mojitos in frosted glasses for another five months. It’s not all bad, though – one of our favourite winter activities is going for a classic tapas meal with friends. It’s not quite on the same level as Madrid but it’s still muy tipico to meet up with friends midweek, or start your Saturday night over tapas and a couple of glasses of wine. And if you avoid the tourist traps and go where the locals go, having dinner is surprisingly affordable. At each of the places below, we usually order six or seven tapas between five people, and pay around €12 a head, which includes drinks.
This long-established Raval favourite fulfils the two classic signs of a good tapas joint – bright lights, no music and napkins on the floor. The weird interior design – vintage radios stacked in haphazard towers against the walls, formica topped tables and strip lighting – only adds to its charm. But despite (or perhaps because of) it's no-frills approach, there’s rarely an empty table, and the menu is made up of solid tapas classics. Our favourite dishes to order here are pimientos de padron and the pulpo a la gallega.
Plaza del Sol is a gathering place for local teenagers and eccentrics in Gracia, and the outside tables at Cafe del Sol are the perfect place for people watching. There’s sometimes a bit of a wait for a table but you can pass the time with an aperitivo inside the bar – their vermouth de la casa is delicious. The menu has a wider range than a lot of classic tapas joints – our top tip is the deep fried artichoke hearts, and the chicken with wasabi is pretty great as well. The service is incredibly slow but hey, it’s Spain, so take it in your stride!
Another long standing Gracia establishment, Cafe Pages on Torrent dell’Olla is frequented by a young, lively crowd who come for the classic tapas and outrageously cheap house wine – only €6.50 a bottle. The pa amb tomaquet (bread rubbed with tomatoes and drizzled with oil) is served warm and they do the best patatas bravas in Barcelona.
This tapas restaurant just off the Rambla is decorated with faded pictures of matadors and bullfighting regalia. Despite its central location it has mysteriously stayed under the tourist radar, but the largely local crowd keep coming back for the large portions and low prices. It has an enormous tapas list, but the standouts for us are the charcuterie and cheese selections. Order with pa amb tomaquet on the side.
This popular bar at the top of l’Eixample is always busy, and for good reason – it’s one of the best tapas places in the area. Their list of tapas dishes has all the classics, and the fish and seafood tapas are particularly good. We always order a portion of the pescadito frito (deep fried whitebait) and the scallops with marinara sauce are pretty good too. They also do a vegetarian paella which is delicious.
Have we missed any out? What’s your favourite tapas place? Let us know in the comments below!