Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tapaç 24: revisted Jul 13 (Barcelona)

July 2013

Carrier de la Diputacio 269, Barcelona
Tel: +34 934 88 0977 (no reservations)

Tapas 24 is our favourite tapas bar/restaurant in Barcelona for a variety of reasons: Firstly, the food has always been consistently good (as at the end of our current trip to Spain, we would have eaten there 7 times in the past year - see earlier review). Secondly, it opens from 9am to midnight so it is our go-to place for any meal of the day, even at non-peak periods. Thirdly, it is around the block from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel which is where we have been staying whenever we are in the city. On this trip, we were looking to have a late meal and didn't have reservations anywhere else, so we joined the queue for a seat. At night, this is a wildly popular place, and for a Thursday night, it took us more than an hour in the queue to get seated. When we started placing our orders, it was already past 11pm.

There is always a buzz behind the bar counter at Tapas 24, whether it be in the morning or in their busiest moments at dinner time. The servers are quirky and can vacillate between being very chummy or obnoxious, depending on their levels of stress at any particular time. When it gets crowded, the restaurant feels perpetually short-staffed and it may take a while to get tables cleared or orders taken. But the people keep coming back because the food is consistently good, and the vibe is always one of excitement and expectation.

To be fair, the kitchen seems to work at breakneck speed and once orders are taken, the food generally comes out reasonably promptly. They have an English menu but it is always worth asking what the daily specials are (the staff speak some English and the specials on the chalkboard are usually written in Catalan).

The thing we order every single time we come here is the 'bikini' aka 'the best ham and cheese sandwich we have ever eaten'. We reckon it is the thin bread, mozzarella cheese, iberico ham and generous use of truffle spread which makes it so special. It has never disappointed.

The specials of the day, the sweetbreads on mash potatoes were also very good.

'Gambas a la plancha', i.e. grilled prawns, which were to be eaten by hand and were addictive.

Another old favourite was the grilled baby squid which was excellent as always.

The recommended dessert this time was the chocolate ice cream drizzled with olive oil and with sea salt flakes sprinkled on it. Strange combination, we thought, but somehow it worked very well.

We had almost every breakfast in Barcelona in Tapas 24 (except for Sundays when it was closed). Our default order would always be the 'bikini' and the xuxos (pronounced "chuchos") which was an airy pastry with the exterior consistency of a croissant but filled with some custard inside.

But for a more substantial breakfast, we usually ordered the fried eggs with fries and chorizo, which were simple but quite incredible.

Final Thoughts: We do not claim that this is the best tapas in Barcelona (Cal Pep, Pinotxo and El Quim, amongst others, probably make a better case for that, and our meal at Paco Meralgo was also very good), but for us this has been our comfort food place whenever we are in the city. The idea of waking up early, going down to grab a cafe solo, a juice and a bite of that wonderful 'bikini' always gave us the motivation for an early start to the day.

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