Barcelona - Tapas 24

Tapas24 is another Barcelona restaurant that has been blogged about all over. That's how I heard about it, and I'm so glad I did. I ate there twice. At the beginning of my trip, and on my last evening in Spain. Perhaps I should have ventured further afield, but the fact is, by that final Wednesday evening I was wiped out. As Tapas24 is located just blocks from the hostal where I stayed, it was a logical (and delicious) decision.

I never quite got used to the late Spanish dinner, so I arrived unfashionably early for both meals (before 8:30 pm.) If you don't want to wait, I suggest you do the same. By the time I left potential diners were lined up behind the counter and up the stairs. The majority of seats at this subterranean restaurant are located at a counter surrounding the kitchen, with a few larger tables near the walls. There are a few tables outside as well, but I wouldn't expect attentive service if this is where you choose to sit.

I found service to be a bit scattered at the bar, where the wait staff scurried in and out, making pan amb tomaquet on the fly and scooping up little bowls of olives. At times it was difficult to get their attention, especially when it was time to pay the bill (to be fair, this seems to be common to many restaurants in Barcelona.) Tapas are, of course, ideal for couples and groups dining together. I was alone, so two visits allowed me to try a greater variety of items. In fact, on my first visit, the couple sitting beside me had the oxtail with beans pictured below. They said it was a highlight of their meal and it was the first thing I thought of when I decided to make a second visit.

But first, meal number one. I started with some really excellent fruit juice. The sweet-tart berry juice was flavored with just enough mint to refresh without overwhelming. And the little bottles were so cute. Next was an order of boquerones al limone, fried anchovies marinated in lemon. Good, but not super memorable, I probably wouldn't order them again.

The patatas bravas though, they were fantastic. The wedges of potato very nicely fried before receiving a healthy douse of garlicky allioli and a spicy tomato sauce. I miss them. I finished up with a satisfying bowl of lentils and smokey chorizo. It was a simple brothy soup but the combo of slighly chewy sausage and tender beans was just what I wanted. I didn't try for dessert, the small restaurant was packed and I was beat (and so full.)

Before meal number two I spent a sunny day wandering around Park Guell. It was packed, the crowds inescapable. It's a must-see in most guidebooks, but I preferred Gaudi's more intimate Casa Mila and, frankly, stunning Sagrada Familia.

Still, I had fun taking photos and admiring Gaudi's curious creations. But before long the sun and stairs had me ready for a relaxing meal.

I kicked off the meal with another fruit juice, apple mint this time around. It tasted like apple pie in beverage form, with teeny bits of apple suspended in a slightly spicy apple nectar. Paired unconventionally with my croquete de pernil iberico, aka delicious fried thing filled with fancy ham, it was quite good. The croquette itself was to die for, crisp exterior giving way to a molten filling of rich, creamy potato studded with salty ham.

Of course I ordered the oxtail, my fixation had not waned. And it was worthy. The creamy white beans soaked up the rich, wine-y braising liquid beautifully. The meat, tender and occasionally slightly gelatinous, was like pot roast on crack, so full of beefy goodness. On the side, an order of tomato bread, toasted and scraped with raw tomatoes and garlic then slicked with peppery olive oil. The fresh, tart tomato flavor was a nice foil to the richness of the oxtail.

I elected for dessert this time around, though I barely had room. I picked xocolata, and the three little ovoids of chocolate mousse were pure decadence. Drizzled with more of that peppery Spanish olive oil along with flecks of crunchy fleur de sel, the chocolate was creamy and dense, not too sweet. I could only get through about one and a half before offering the remainder to the friendly couple next to me. And then it was back to the hostal for a brief sleep before hours and hours of travel back to Bloomington. But I've still got more to food to post, so check back soon!
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