Pa i Trago
Carrer del Parlament may have gotten a name for itself as the most blisteringly hip street in town, but some places, like Pa i Trago, remain deliciously old-fashioned. Now approaching its 50th year of operation it is run by a team of vocational waiters who work with remarkable speed and dexterity, and peopled by fabulous old fogeys from the barrio, all cackling and carrying on over second and third bottles of cava, as if caught in a time warp from another decade. The name says it all—bread and drink—and sure enough it’s a place to get seriously fed, for very little money, with narry a hipster in sight.
I love it here. Blindingly lit in that uniquely Spanish way with wood beams and some cute retro touches like the old soda siphons that decorate the windows of the main dining room, it tastes and smells of when I first arrived in Barcelona: hearty home cooking that nourishes and nurtures in equal measure, where the wine comes in a carafe instead of a thimble-sized splash in a designer glass, and you waddle away an hour and a half later feeling sated and silly.
Tuesday is trotter and snail day (they have a different special for each day of the week), which I’ve no doubt they do very well if you’re into that sort of thing. I’ve never quite got my head round the gelatinous nature of the cloven hoof, but I do have a soft spot for a sweet and tender stew of baby broad beans and peas enriched with a pork rib or two, a chunk of chorizo and morcilla and a sprig of rosemary, and a simply grilled swordfish steak that has been liberally doused in a bright parsley-garlic picada, and served with hot, perfectly crisp French fries that could give Maccy D’s a run for its money. And the moist, almondy wedge of Torta de Santiago with a shot glass of moscatell is as sweet an ending as you could hope for. There is, by the way, a wood-panelled dining room at the back, hung with ancient posters of FC Barcelona stars past, many of whom have become today’s patrons. It’s a great place for a party. Bon profit!