Advantages Fantastic food at great prices
Disadvantages If you don't get there early it can be very busy and waits can be long
I’ve never been a big fan of the concept of tapas, tending to see it as an expensive way of eating lots of little bits and pieces, paying way over the odds and eventually feeling like you’ve not really had a proper meal at all. I’ve been invited to UK tapas restaurants and been forced to think up really creative reasons why I can’t (or don’t want) to go. “My dog ate my homework” doesn’t work for eating out, but I’ve come close up with some outlandish excuses. However if you’re in Spain, it’s a different kettle of ‘small deep fried fish and octopus bits’ altogether and I’m a little more open minded especially when I’m by the sea. Doubly so when I’m there for work and someone else is paying – the best kind of eating out.
I got a new colleague for my team at the beginning of March and went over to our office in Barcelona to get involved with her induction. I asked her to choose a restaurant and she picked the Cerveseria Catalana (or the Catalan ‘beer house’ if you prefer). She told me roughly where it was and my memory antennae were twitching. I told her I knew a Cerveseria a couple of blocks off the Diagonal, close to Las Ramblas and she said it was unlikely to be the same one, and that there were lots of such places. I remained optimistic as I had very good memories of a place where I used to eat with colleagues a few employers ago and which had long been a favourite of mine. I think Isabel was absolutely shocked when it turned out that of the thousands of eateries in that part of the city, she’d picked one that I knew and also loved. I'm not the only one - on a certain well known travel review site, it scores at something like the 26th most popular restaurant out of over 3000 in Barcelona.
Cerveseria Catalana is in the Eixample area of the city on Carrer de Mallorca. It’s just off the Rambla Catalunya at it’s ‘top’ end (i.e. the end furthest from the sea). If you start from La Pedrera, the famous Gaudi building with the ‘stormtrooper’ chimneys and head one block towards the sea, turn right and go one and a half blocks, you’ll find it. It’ll be the place that’s full to bursting even at an unfashionably early hour when any self-respecting local wouldn’t dream of going for dinner. It’s busy for two good reasons – firstly it’s in ALL the guidebooks and online guides, and secondly it’s very good value. They stock an impressive array of world beers though I have to admit we didn’t indulge very much.
Spain’s been in a mess for a few years now and you’d expect that restaurants might be struggling. In the last 18 months I’ve not really noticed this although I did once think times must be hard when a popular restaurant was nearly empty but that turned out to be because there was a big football match on and everyone was home watching. Despite the hard times, eating out in Barca really isn’t cheap. A rather ordinary meal for two can easily cost close to 100 euros which I think is pretty crazy.
A taxi dropped us outside and we squeezed through the door.
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