© La Pepita
I considered moving recently. Not to another country you understand, but to the actual country. It didn’t pan out, but it did give me a new appreciation for this fine city of ours. For, just when you think you’ve left no worthwhile stone unturned, you stumble across something you’ve never noticed before.
In my case it was La Pepita, just above the Diagonal on the way into Gràcia, which I stumbled across on Trip Advisor while trawling for something else. It ranks as number 17 out of a possible 3260 entries on restaurants in Barcelona and elicits such rave reviews you can’t help but wonder if they write them themselves. But the praise is genuine and completely deserved. It’s a buzzy little place with a largely Catalan clientele serving solid, often quite inventive food without an ounce of pretension. I went with a friend from Denmark on a Wednesday night and both bar and tightly packed tables are rammed.
We share a large glass of pumpkin salmorejo (a thick version of gazpacho from Cordobá) topped with crunchy pumpkin crisps; madly creamy ‘VIC’, as in 'very important croquettes’ that come garnished with a generous handful of jamón slivers; a heap of cazón adobo (dogfish fish fingers in a sharp, vinegary marinade) with a dollop of lime mayonnaise; grilled asparagus spears that are yet crisp and tender to the bite; melt-in-the-mouth secreto ibérico (that decadently marbled cut from around the front and back legs, and the loin) on a purée of aubergine and sugarcane honey; lamb pinchos morunos (kebabs in a spicy marinade) on creamy hummus; wafer-thin steak sarnies and a smashing Crema Catalana. How we fit it all—considering the portion sizes—is testament to the quality. Moreover, with a couple of glasses of wine each the bill came to around €60, which struck me as a bargain considering how much we’d put away.
Combined with impeccably friendly service and the gracious presence of the owner who fluttered about the tables checking everyone was having a lovely old time, I suspect La Pepita may well become a regular.
Còrsega 343, tel. 93 238 4893, www.lapepitabcn.com. Open Tue-Fri 9am-1.30am, Sat 10am-2.30am. Metro: Diagonal