When it comes to eating in Barcelona, Spain, nothing beats hitting the famous tapas bars. In recent years, tapas have become somewhat trendy around the world while, in Spain, tapas continue to become more and more popular. The best thing about eating in tapas bars is that you are able to sample many of the local specialties. As part of a trip sponsored by the Department of Tourism of Catalonia, I recently dined at La Vinoteca Torres, the well known Torres winemaker’s sharp wine and tapas bar. Located in Barcelona’s Eixemple district on the Passeig de Graci, the sleek and stylish wine-related interior theme is a great setting to taste a wide variety of tapas and to sample wines from a traditional and exclusive winemaker.
While there seems to be some debate as to whether aceitunas (olives) are officially a tapa or not, they’re almost always present as is the delicious pa amb tomaquet which is a local Catalan comfort food. Served on any occasion, pa amb tomaquet is simply toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic and ripe tomato then drizzled with olive oil. Some of my favorites from an amazing selection of tapas included one of Spain’s national tapas dishes, jamon serrano (ham), along with patatas bravas (spicy fried potatoes with lots of alioli), coronas (chickpea fritters with romesco sauce), gran vina sol (codfish salad) and mas la plana (potato and fried eggs with perol sausage).
While Spain is not necessarily known for its vegetarian food, Spaniards make great vegetarian tapas by grilling and roasting things like mushrooms and eggplant. If vegetables are your thing, be sure to try setas (mushrooms grilled with olive oil and garlic), berenjenas fritas (eggplant fritters), and of course the patatas bravas (spicy potatoes).
Wherever you have tapas, it is always a good idea to ask about the house specialties. Locals tend to move from bar to bar, having just the one dish that they consider the specialty of each particular bar.