Eating out - tapes!


12 Apr 2016 | Last update: 23 Dec 2020

Tapes is Catalan for tapas. You pronounce tapes as... tapas! Easy.

There are at least three main styles of tapes. Pintxos are very popular in Barcelona. They're very artistic little snacks presented on a small piece of bread and pierced (pinchado) with a cocktail stick. Take what you fancy, save the cocktail sticks, and when you're all done, the waiter will count your sticks and charge you accordingly. Yes, really.

In some parts of Spain, and in a small number of bars in Barcelona, a tapa is a small, free snack served with every drink. Many bars will give you some chips or nuts with your drink, but true tapas will be something a bit more interesting. But as I say, it's not very common in Barcelona.

The main style of tapes you'll come across is a carta (menu - but more on this word below) listing many individual dishes. These are not "courses" but are individual items. Generally, a dish will be more than you'd want to eat by yourself. You'll want to share, and that's the point. A group of 4 might order say, 6 or 7 different tapes to share. It's a lot of fun, and you get to try a variety of dishes. Some things to look out for include:

  • Pimientos al padron (tiny green peppers). Roasted on a hot plate (a la plancha) and sprinkled with salt. Once in a while there'll be a random spicy one!
  • Pan con tomate (bread with tomato). Most places will just bring you this ready prepared. Toasted bread, with garlic and tomato smeared over, then drizzled with olive oil. In some places they bring you the makings and you do it yourself.
  • Chipirones - tiny baby octopi, fried until crispy in batter.
  • Patatas bravas - chips with allioli and spicy sauce. In my opinion, pleasant enough but wildly overrated, but a lot of people love them.

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Mediterranean Coastal Cruise

My daughter and I were stopping in Barcelona for the week for her Spring Break. We didn't know the city, or have any plans, so on the fly, we found this Sailboat cruise, signed up and went. It was very easy to book, very easy to find, and an enjoyable experience all around. Skipper Dave was super nice. He answered questions, and talked to us as needed, and also, allowed us to just chill on the front of the boat and enjoy the views. It was a great time, and if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some peace and quiet with a great view, I highly recommend this trip.
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Wonderfully relaxing, friendly, and informative trip

My wife booked this trip - we were a group of 9 (3 related families) - Classic Sail worked with another organization to ensure we got a boat that fit our group's size. It was clear that Dani had chosen a skipper that was fluent in English, and was just as native to Spain as could be! Bernardo was an excellent skipper - talked very knowledgeably about the culture and history of Barcelona and the buildings that we could see as we motored out from where the boat was anchored (Port Olympic). He also pointed out some of the sailing tips that an accomplished sailor would know - the ripples on the water indicating the location of wind, the tell-tales near the sail that he used to track the wind shifts to ensure the sail was oriented right. What was incredible was the extent to which he was able to encourage our younger daughter to feel confident in "helping" him sail, when we were way out in blue water, returning back to shore. Most of us got into the blue water to swim a while - and again, Bernardo had the right words of encouragement to get the faint-hearted into the water. We had a great time in the crystal-clear water, which was bracing at the first touch, but very comfortable rapidly after, not at all warm. We would heartily recommend this 2.5 hour sailing trip as a great way to relax in the Mediterranean!
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