I have to say I did not have one snack in Barcelona that disappointed me. Very impressive indeed.
Spain is like Italy, where they have everything: meat, seafood, wine and super good snacks. Travelers can find anything, depending on their preference, and this can be a great plus when you are traveling with especially picky people. We, however, are not picky at all when it comes to food, so it was like heaven. And as for the snacks and street food, they tend to stick to the safer side, no cockroaches or pigeons, but pinchos, doughnuts, fresh fruit juices and even bite-sized Jamón. A culinary treat indeed.
One of the easiest choices when it comes to snacking or even as a proper meal can be tapas. The word derives from the Spanish word for “to cover” or “tapar.” Historically, it started out when drinker covered their sherry drinks with slices of bread or meat to prevent fruit flies. Since dinner is served around 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., it’s only natural to go starving around 6 p.m. (like me). So between lunch and dinner, people started to nibble on tapas. Now it has become a culture of eating (or devouring) small side dishes that you can order before a proper meal, or nowadays, even order a couple for a complete meal. The latter idea seemed like a goo one because this means you can try all different types of tapas, and this is mostly what we went for.
The one seen above is called Patatas bravas (fried potato cubes) and is a quite popular Spanish tapas dish. The french fries of Spanish tapas, if you will. The sauce is usually spicy, but after a couple portions in various bars and restaurants, we found that this is not always the case. Some serve their patatas bravas with a creamier white sauce, while other places get creative and serve them with something like a kimchi-based cream sauce. The potatoes are usually super hot and I burnt my tongue a couple of times, so careful before digging in.
One of the main reasons such tapas dishes are possible in Spain is because there’s everything. Most tapas places offer more than 20 different dishes, ranging from meat, seafood to vegetarian and cheese. The same applies to Italy with its various antipasto (although the Italian dishes tend to vary depending on the city). My personal advice: try the seafood tapas. Take advantage of the sea. I believe we had some type of seafood on our table every single time. But if you’re not into seafood, at least try different types to see which one you like/dislike.
For those who feel overwhelmed with the big menu of 20-something tapas dishes, ask for help. The waiters always seem to know their best and most popular recipes and some will go on and tell you which is better than the other. It can also be hard to determine if you want three or five. The safest way would be to order maybe one or two per person and order more later. Which always happens, at least for us. G hates it when I be a bit safe and order two when we REALLY could have ordered five. So depending on how hungry you are, go for it.
Patatas bravas in a white sauce at La Pepita, a lovely little tapas place.
While I was walking through Carrer de Ferran, which is a street that links Place Sant Jaume and the famous La Rambla, I found myself talking alone. I looked around and G was nowhere to be found. I started to panic a bit but then found him looking into the window of this. This happens occasionally, for him food and for me, shoes, sweets and furniture. Of course, we had to go in and get some. (These shops seem to be everywhere around the city. The one we went to was Enrique Tomas)
G expressed his delight by sharing his comments about each and every piece. I am not kidding. Every single one of them. “Mmmmm,” (kissing fingertips), “look, look,” “so good,” “Mmmmm,” (waving hands in the air), “look at the color,” “so soft yet chewy.” You get the picture. He was really sad when he finished everything. Classic Italian.
Pinchos are part of the tapas family but “pinched” or “spiked” with a skewer or toothpick. It also usually refers to one. Like one pincho, but a plate of potato tapas. There are numerous bars that serve pinchos and so it’s quite easy to find a place to try them. Some bars offer menu deals, like one pincho plus beer. We ended up going to one that was on Carrer de Ferran. Good luck in choosing one. Or give yourself a break and order three. Or five.
There was another place that was recommended to us, but we just didn’t have the time/empty stomach to try their food. This place is called Butipà, and serves sandwiches, hot dogs and other yummy snacks. If you are in the neighborhood, check it out (and let me know how it was!).
- Enrique Tomas (Carrer de Ferran, 55, 08002 Barcelona)
- La Pepita (Carrer de Còrsega, 343, 08037, Barcelona)
- Butipà (Ramelleres, 16-18-20, Barcelona)
All photos by rachelsanghee.