Once upon a time there was a pretty, narrow, paved street. People called it “Wine Street”. Long, long ago – during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s – people flocked to this street to visit its many bars, enjoying a glass or two of wine with some tasty tapas.
Visitors parked their car(riage)s along the sides of the street (we’re not sure how they made them fit), friends met up for evenings of entertainment, and everyone enjoyed the antics of the tunos, student buskers out to make a few pieces of silver. In its heyday, Carrer de la Mercè was the stuff of legend!
Getting back to reality, the street is still home to a number of bars, which have retained their vintage charm – and their excellent tapas! Time travel can be tasty…
Bar La Plata: 5 tapas
This little local bar has been around since 1945. Pepe started working here as a dishwasher on one of the very busiest days of the year, the day of the Fiesta Nacionale. If that isn’t a baptism of fire, we don’t know what is!
- Pepe has been behind the bar for the last 45 years. You won’t see him writing your order down anywhere, as he has the astonishing ability to remember exactly what you had! He also still uses the same till he’s always had, a set of wooden drawers.
Everything here is authentic and original: the bar, the furniture, the fridge, even the wine and the vermouth – very little has changed in the last 60 years! The tapas is a more recent innovation, introduced a mere forty years ago. You’ll find five sorts: no more, no less.
La Plata is famous for its pescaditos, little fried fish which are just perfect, in our eyes. The recipe is a tried and tested one, used for decades, and it shows.
- Pepe let us in on part of the secret: the fish are fresh anchovies, and the oil is changed every day. The rest of the recipe is a closely-guarded secret! Now, the big question: do you eat your pescaditos whole, or do you pick them apart first?
The other tapas on offer are:
- Pinchos de Butifarra (Catalan sausage on bread)
- Cantabrian anchovies in olive oil, plated or served on a slice of bread
- A delicious local tomato salad with onions and olives
- The famous tomato bread, perfect to balance out the flavours of the other morsels on offer.
To wash it all down, a small San Miguel beer will set you back a mere €1.50 – and these are the coldest beers we’ve found in Barcelona! If wine is more your style, pick a bottle from the barrels – red, white or rosé, the price is €4.50.
Simple, tasty and… cheap!
Where? Carrer de la Mercè 28, in the lower gothic quarter
When? Monday to Saturday, 9am – 3pm and 6.30pm – 11pm
How much? Tapas €2.50 – €2.80, plates of anchovies in oil €5
Why? For Pepe’s perfect pescaditos!
Casa du Molinero: home-made tapas
As its name suggests, this 200-year-old bar used to be a miller’s house, and the front door is original. It’s been operating as a bar since the 1960s, decorated with antique bells, forks and bellows which blend harmoniously with the aged brick and wood interiors.
The big tables are a great place to meet up with friends or family, or to make new acquaintances – hey, even if you don’t speak the same language, it’s worth a try, right?
- The bar also hosts language exchange nights.
The Casa du Molinero serves a selection of cheeses and meats, which you’ll see drying above you, hung from the ceiling.
- Try the cecina (beef), lomo (pork fillet) and salami – obviously served with the ever-present pa amb tomàquet (tomato bread).
There are also a number of traditional dishes on the menu, prepared according to timeless, inherited recipes.
- We particularly enjoyed Estefan’s mother’s specialities, including the tortilla de patatas (the famous Spanish potato omelette), the meatballs and the chorizo in cider – all truly authentic, and truly delicious!
Enjoy your tapas with a beer (€1), a glass of vermouth (€2) or a glass of wine (€2.50). The prices are hard to beat, especially if you buy by the bottle!
- Try the leche de pantera, a house special. It’s a popular cocktail made from gin and milk, sprinkled with cinnamon. Just be careful how much of it you druink – it’s deceptively strong!
Estefan – and his impressive moustache – will welcome you with open arms.
Where? Carrer de la Mercè 13, in the lower gothic quarter
When? Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm – 3am
How much? Tapas from €1.30
Why? For Estefan’s mum’s tortilla!
- Whichever bar you end up in, don’t hesistate to ask for your wine in a porró. This traditional Catalan pitcher looks a bit like a watering can, and you drink directly from the spout… but without touching it with your lips! Just try not to get your drink everywhere… it’s good for a laugh, in any case.
Tasty tapas in an authentic, friendly setting – what better way to spend an evening?