A Little Something to Eat in Barcelona


It’s no secret that Tapac 24 is great. Carles Abellan, the genius Barcelona chef behind Comerc 24, opened this new place a year ago, and ever since, each night brings a line out the door. But whereas Comerc was all Kinder eggs made from potato foam and truffles, Tapac is old school, right down to the waiters’ jackets, which appear to have been swiped from a 19th-century admiral’s closet. Admittedly, the gazpacho (tart, refreshing) is topped with a verdant swirl of basil oil, and the gloriously buttery bikini (what Catalans enigmatically call a grilled ham and cheese) comes swabbed with a swoon-inducing layer of pureed truffles. And admittedly, they have one employee whose sole job is to smear tomatoes on toasted bread (for the classic pan amb tomaquet). But the menu is basically what you’d find in any good tapas bar—ham croquettes, grilled sardines, fried baby squid. It’s just done better. What perhaps is secret is that you can eat just as well, and just about the same kind of food, at a place that doesn’t have the international fame (or the French tourists). Paco Meralgo (the name is a play on the phrase “para comer algo”, or “something to eat.” It’s bright lights and sleek wood (instead of Tapac 24's studied kitsch), but the gazpacho (tart, refreshing, no basil oil) is delicious. As are the crisp shrimp tortitas, the herbaceous cod fritters, the plump steamed clams, the peppery strips of beef. And even though there is no dedicated pan amb tomaquet maker, even their bread with tomato manages to taste good.

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