This isn’t a full-blown review, just a quick mention of an old favourite. La Esquinica (Fabra i Puig 296, 08031 Barcelona, +34 933582519) is where I had my first tapas. My then-girlfriend, now-wife lived around the corner and this boisterous, traditional bar was a regular haunt. It had just relocated to its present, larger premises and it was perennially packed. It astonished me with its atmosphere, low prices, friendly service and excellent food. Full of Aragonese ex-pats who missed home, there wasn’t a a tourist in sight. It was a mile away — literally and figuratively — from the woeful, rip-off tapas bars in the city centre.
Sadly, in recent years it lost something of its charm; the food became greasier and more rushed: grit in the clams, burnt croquettes. Some of the prices had crept up too and La Esquinica was in danger of becoming neither cheap nor cheerful.
I am therefore very happy to announce that on a recent, unplanned visit it was back to its best. We arrived early and so avoided the horrendous queues that develop outside. This is a very family-friendly restaurant so the presence of my heavily pregnant wife and our 3-yr old daughter ensured that we were seated immediately. Our little girl was promised — and later given — a free Chupa-Chup lollipop which delighted her.
My advice is to avoid the croquettes, bombas, tigres and other deep-fried (and possibly defrosted) items and stick to what La Esquinica does best. The ‘patatas bravicas’ (€3.45) are pretty good, the ‘morcillica’ (black pudding with rice, €3.20 for 4 portions) is excellent and you can’t go wrong with the chistorra sausages and similar. I tried the ‘callicos’ (tripe) which were decent though not world-beating but for €4 there was certainly nothing to complain about.
My daughter adores shellfish and while it’s not wildly expensive here it is understandably more pricey than the rest of what’s on offer. The good news is that it’s worth it: the ‘almejicas’ (clams, €7.95) went down so well that she (and I) wanted some of the other clams, ‘chirlicas’ (€6.15) which were also delicious straight from the griddle. Good, messy fun.
No kids’ menu, turkey-twizzlers-and-chips nonsense here in Barcelona…
By far the most expensive thing on the menu, the ‘pupico gallego’ (Galician-style octopus) is nevertheless worth every penny of the €11 it costs. A couple of beers, an orujo, a coffee and a happy family.
I’m delighted that La Esquinica seems to have rediscovered its mojo. I hope that this resurgence in form lasts because I used to love the place and if they can keep up the attention to detail then it remains an excellent option if you have kids or are with a group of friends. Viva La Esquinica.