Photo by Tara Stevens
Bodega Avi Manel
Barcelona may not be as famous for its tapas bars as Madrid, but what it does exceptionally well is the small 'colmado' (Catalan deli) or 'bodega' (wine shop) that also offers snacks and drinks.
The most famous of these of course is Quimet i Quimet—a Barcelona institution—and the longest continuously running of these establishments to my knowledge, but of late I’ve discovered if you look hard enough, almost every barrio has one. I’ll do a best-of list soon...
Meantime let me share with you the very cute Bodega l’Avi Manuel (C/Consell de Cent 416, 93 245 3393, open Tue-Thu 10am-9pm, Fri 10am-1.30am, Sat-Sun and holidays 11am-3pm) just off the Passeig Sant Joan. It’s a lovely old drinking den with black marble floors, heavy oak fridges and a vast painting depicting idyllic scenes of rural Catalan life. Lining the walls are huge, 250-litre barrels of Spanish wines as well as smaller ones of local Moscatel and the sherries of Jerez. There are also more glamorous bottles if you insist, and a fridge full of basic tapas begging for cava: spicy banderillas (olives, anchovies and guindilla pepper skewered together on a toothpick), luscious pink anchovies and piquant boquerones, steamed mussels and clams, and slabs of hard cheese. With a glass of fizz costing €2 and tapas starting at €1.50, for my money it’s the perfect place to kick off a night on the razzle, though you can easily imagine getting stuck here until the wee hours.
It’s not that the food is anything that’s going to win any mega awards (for that Quimet wins hands down), simply that it’s honest and good and cheap. It’s the atmosphere that deserves stars mixing quirky Catalan paraphernalia like the Cervera witch that presides over the bar (I’m thinking Halloween here) with more obvious traditional wine barrel tables. The minute the sun goes down, so do the lights to be replaced with candles giving it a cosy vibe that can be elusive in this town, yet it’s one that smacks of old Barcelona.
The Thursday blog seeks out restaurants and eateries that cost under €25 for a couple of courses and a glass of wine. If you’ve come across anything that should be here, please drop us a line…