Reliable but boisterous Barcelona city-centre tapas restaurant
Eating options in Barcelona are limited on Monday nights. Fewer restaurants that usual remain open and those that do often have restricted menus. La Flauta (C/ Aribau 23, +34 933 237 038, no website, closed Sundays) falls into the second category. But that’s a good thing: I’d rather be told that many of the fish dishes are off than be served the contents of the freezer.
La Flauta (the namesake sister restaurant of which can be found at C/ Balmes 171) is always incredibly busy. The service is, as a result, occasionally spotty: sometimes you get smiles and attention, other times the cold shoulder, but it is always, always rushed. The queue for tables snakes out the door and along the street so bring a book or get there early.
Why the fuss? I’m not entirely sure. La Flauta serves good quality tapas and, as the name suggests, flautas – narrow sandwiches made with crusty bread – at sensible prices. It’s not spectacularly cheap, exactly, but given the location it’s not expensive either.
On the Monday evening that I visited most recently, most of the marisco (seafood) had been sold at lunchtime so I received a string of lo-siento-no‘s in response to my first attempts to order.
What was left was worth the wait. Sweet baby broad beans (faves) with prawns and ham were tender and fresh.
Aubergine chips with honey and cheese were greasy but good.
Patates braves were acceptably crispy with punchy allioli and bravas sauce.
My wife enjoyed a montadito of foie:
While I demolished bacallá a la llauna, a storage-friendly salt-cod-and-garlic Catalan classic. It was delicious, but the portion was on the small side for the €10 price.
We skipped dessert in favour of a pint at the superb BierCab just a couple of streets away.
The total bill for two people was €38, including a couple of canyes (small draft beers) and a glass of water.
La Flauta is somewhere I always keep on my mental map of Barcelona for a quick bite or place to send visitors. It’s been serving crowds with ruthless efficiency for a long time and does a solid job of it. It doesn’t cut corners with ingredients and offers good value: you can find better and you can find cheaper, but not usually both, at least not in this part of town. It’s family-friendly and good, noisy fun. Worth queuing for? Depends on who you’re waiting with…