Thursday, December 12, 2013

Barcelona - Part 2 - Eating around town, beginning with tapas

Cervecería Catalana – was a hidden gem of a tapas recommendation from a friend who often travelled to Barcelona. We were already walking near the Passieg de Garcia area, near the Ramblas, and my colleagues hadn’t set any plans for dinner, so I suggested that we try this place, based on my friend's recommendation. 

If you’re not already familiar with tapas, they are Spanish “small plates”, almost like appetizers. There’s some debate on the origins of Spanish tapas, when literally translated means “covers” but one commonly held belief is that in the olden days, in order to prevent flies or other insects from getting into one’s drink, you could place an edible “cover” that would go over your drink, and these small appetizers would be placed over that cover. There are both warm and cold dishes, like patatas bravas, thinly shredded pan-friend potatoes, the incredibly tasty jamon Iberico – cured Spanish ham served with toastpoints, or cold dishes like calamari, tossed in olive oil. 

Jamon Iberico - best ham ever!

Set on a side street of one of the main tourist avenues, it’s a difficult to miss tapas restaurant. As we arrived for a typical late Spanish dinner around 8pm, there was already a long line of people waiting for tables in this tightly packed bar/restaurant, with the tables spilling onto the sidewalk for al fresco dining. There was this strong energy to the place – waiters moving quickly to serve their customers, a noisy bar where smaller groups were chatting and enjoying their drinks and tapas, all amid a very modern sleek décor.

There was about a 30 minute wait for a table for the four of us, so we took our drinks outside and were chatting, when we suddenly became the magnet for other Americans who were either ordering or considering eating at this place! Quite funny – as our group consisted of two Americans (including myself), and a Belgian and German colleague. Somehow, our group must have looked like some kind of eating experts, as one of the diners sitting outside near us started to ask us which dishes they should order!! (patatas bravas and the jamon Iberico were our recommendations). At nearly the same time, a couple from New York, who probably stumbled upon the place when hearing us talking about waiting for a table, and we struck up a great conversation with them, which made our waiting time go by very quickly!

Ordering here is quite easy – if you’re eating at the bar, the various plates are set on top of the bar, and you can just point at any of the dishes, or if you decide to eat at the restaurant, you get a proper menu. Note: if you want a table, make your way past the busy entrance and bar, until you see the restaurant manager who has the waiting list.

Cervecería Catalana
Carrer de Mallorca, 236, 
08008 Barcelona, Spain ‎