I remember that back in the days when I started to learn Spanish and about the Spanish culture, I would not have known how or what to order in a tapas bar. The first few visits I was glad to have Spanish/Catalan friends with me who would take care of the ordering. After all, I found it difficult how much I should order or what. If you don’t know the food, you don’t know what to order, that’s what it boils down to.
The Tapas bar for beginners
So Irati will be the place for you to set your food in the tapas world without locals or friends to help you. I will tell you why: first of all, it is easy to find, very close to Las Ramblas. Second, they display the tapas at the counter (which is done in most of the tapas places, and yes, there are other places where it will be the same), third they have been around for quite a while (quality is one of the reasons). It has been one of the first tapas places of that style in Barcelona. Actually, to be more accurate, what they offer is called PINTXOS (you might hear some people calling them also montaditos). Pintxos are small portions of food on toasted bread. Tapas in the classic meaning would be a portion of Patatas Bravas (potatoes with a spicy and/or mayonnaise sauce), calamares (squid), etc.
PINTXOS are typical for the North of Spain and the region with the best reputation for this type of snacks is the Basque Country. That’s why the name, because IRATI is not a Spanish word but Basque.
One day I took a couple to Irati, it was their first visit to Barcelona and they simply loved the place. When the girl went outside for a smoke, she told me that she had seen a tourist couple walking by, looking into the bar, but saw them hesitating. She told them that they absolutely had to go inside and try it. My friend was excited when she told me that and this is what I experience with people who are new to the city: you might not be sure or dare to enter because you don’t know how things work …
At Irati, they make it easy for you. Throughout 20 years I always had been treated nicely, although I never had been attended by the same staff. You just walk in, and get as close as you can get to the “barra”, the bar. The food is displayed on big plates on the bar, the staff will hand you a plate and take the order for your drink. Then it is up to you to take the pintxos that you want to eat. Every pintxo has a toothpick, you have to keep these on the plate, because it is the only way of keeping track how many you had. Once you’re done, the staff will count the amount of toothpicks you have on your plate and pass you the bill.
When I go to Irati, I order a TXAKOLI wine to drink (pronounce “tsha:koli”), a typical Basque wine served in small glasses. Every 10 minutes one of the waiters walks through with warm pintxos, so try these aswell.
Don’t be shy if the place is packed – it is normal in Spain/Catalunya to squeeze.
Find more information about the place here http://www.iratitavernabasca.com
How to get there:
Carrer del Cardenal Casañas, 17 Closest Metro is LICEU, L3 (green line)
Opened daily from 1:30 PM to 4 PM and 8:30 PM to 12 AM (subject to change)