Tapas street – Carrer Blai
Barcelona is an exciting, vibrant city. There is a lot of art and architecture, it makes for intense sightseeing sessions, but many people go there also to enjoy the pleasures of the beach, the nightlife… and of course, the food! And, when talking about the food, it’s impossible not to mention the tapas. Tapas and paella are the two meals that everyone wants to have when the come to Spain as they are most well known of Spanish Cuisine.
So what exactly is tapas? Well, if there is anyone who doesn’t know what these tasty treats are, they should know that they are small dishes of normally fried foods that are usually ordered and shared by all the people sitting at the table. The best tapas in Barcelona are usually the fish tapas, since the city is right next to the sea and many of its traditional dishes include fish or seafood. They are also some of the tastier: shrimp, cuttlefish, calamari and baby cuttlefish are some of the most popular options, and we can’t forget other traditional ones such as the bombas, which are typical from the neighbourhood of Barceloneta, croquetas or the iconic patatas bravas.
There is also a special kind of tapas, something typical from the north of Spain that has become very popular in the city of Barcelona during the last few years: pinchos or pintxos, as they are originally called. The consist on a small piece of bread with a small portion or tiny food on top of it, which allows for many different combinations including fish, meat, cheese and vegetables. And why are they called pinchos? Well, “pincho” means spike in Spanish, and it refers to the sticks that these tiny tapas have on, so the bread and the food on top stick together. “Pintxo” is it’s spelling in Basque language, as these special treats are originally from the Basque country and Navarre.
The most iconic place to try these kinds of small tapas in Barcelona is carrer de Blai (Blai Street), one of the most popular streets in the neighbourhood of Poble Sec and a wonderful option to go on a Barcelona tapas tour. It is one of the main tapas streets Barcelona, and the most famous one that specialises in pinchos tapas bar.
It is easy to get to from metro stop Parallel sci us on the green and purple lines.
Eating pintxos is one of the best ways of eating tapas in Barcelona, as it has quite a unique modus operandi. In the pintxos and tapas restaurants you will find at carrer Blai, after you’ve found a table, you get up and go to the bar, where you will be overwhelmed by the amount of different pintxos that they display there. You just take a dish and serve yourself with as many as you want. Before or after picking (depending on how fast you respond to the allure of the pintxos that are calling on you from the bar), the waiter will ask for your drinks and bring them to you. Once you’re done eating, the waiter or waitress will just count the amount of sticks in your plate, and charge you a euro for each of them. That’s the most common price, although there can be places which are a bit more expensive than that, or others that work with two different prices and thus two different kinds of sticks. So, as you can see, eating pintxos is a great way to choose your own, personal tapas menu! It’s also a good way to find vegetarian tapas Barcelona easily, because, as bars usually have many different kinds of pintxos, there are always several vegetarian yummy options.
Now that you know how it’s done, you may be wondering which are the best places in carrer Blai. Well, our first tip is to go early if you want to be able to choose. It’s a very popular place, so the terraces and almost all tables can be full as soon as 7 or 8 in the evening (which is very early for Spanish dinner!). Once you have the schedule covered, there are three tapas bars in Barcelona that I can especially recommend:
Here you’ll find pintxos that look like works of art! The cost per pintxos is 1€ for the white dishes or 1.5€ for the black dishes. Arrive early to find a place, especially during the summer months. Blai 9 is open Monday to Sunday from 12pm to 12am. You’ll find them at the intersection of Carrer de Salvà. For more info check out their website.
La Tasqueta de Blai
The typical tapas and pintxos are often a mix of vegetables and seafood. If you would prefer to have something with meat, this is the place to go! You’ll find sausages, mini hamburgers, and more. Here you’ll have the Andalusian deal and get a Tapa with your Caña for just 2€. This place is slightly bigger, fitting around 25-30 people. They are open from 12:30 till 2am. You’ll find them between Carrer de Salvà and Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes.
La Esquinita de Blai
This joint, located across the street from La Tasqueta de Blai, advertises itself by the phrase No Solo Pinchos. Although their array of 1€ pintxos is impressive, La Esquinita de Blai also makes a point to offer a variety of tapas and drinks, including 1.20€ cañas and speciality mojitos as well as a breakfast menu. Here you can have traditional patatas bravas, a sausage platter, prawns and other seafood, and the more inventive Esquinita Hamburger with semi-cured manchego cheese. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Anyway, keep in mind that most of the tapas bars located in carrer Blai will leave your stomach satisfied. A fun way of eating pinxos (and actually one of the traditional ones) is to jump from one bar to the next one, and have a beer and a couple of them in each restaurant- a sort of pintxos bar crawl!