Café Barcelona, Vancouver

If you’ve been privileged enough to set foot on Spanish soil, you’ll have no doubt had the pleasure of the country’s unique approach to small bites. In Spain, a typical night out generally means traipsing from one spot to the next, while sipping a small glass of wine here and a spot of sherry there, and along with each libation come tiny morsels of favourable small bites. Perhaps a slice of sausage, a skewer of marinated octopus, some garlicky prawns, or a tasty anchovy – one usually just helps themselves from the trays at the bar. There’s simply no pretence.

This concept in its true form was unfortunately lacking on the West Coast until the freshly opened Café Barcelona appeared in the trendy Granville Corridor. Sure Vancouver has some tapas bars, but their fare is far from authentic, truly a Westernized attempt, mixing appetizers from around the globe. But this new spot is actually owned by Spaniards and the menu looks like it was stolen from one of the country’s late night spots. The wine menu is a great tribute to the Spanish wines in our market, but the BC side could use a bit of tweaking (a little more boutique and less mainstream lease). Those looking for something a bit hoppier can enjoy Barcelona’s Estrella Beer, designed by superstar-chef Ferran Adria.

Cafe Barcelona is open from noon until midnight, and features a selection of Tapas Frias, Tapas Calientes (cold and hot), Pintxos Frios, and Pintxos Calientes. Pintxos are individual bites lik Brocheta Pupo (octopus skewer with potato), Tortilla Patatas (mini potato omelette) and Txistorra (Basque sausage). They’re flavourful morsels that transport you directly to Spain. If you’re sharing, the Tapas are a bit larger and come in delectable selections like mussels with hot tomato sauce, Gambas Ajillo (garlic prawns), and the typical Spanish Boquerones en Vinagre (anchovies). This is food to be eaten with friends, with good times in mind.

The authenticity of Cafe Barcelona is channelled via its ownership. Here we have Beatriz Gill, a former Spanish Consul General in Vancouver, and Roger Creixams, a one-time mechanical engineer with a passion for Spanish cuisine. And this is not silent ownership; these charming souls will greet you nightly. Benat Ormaetxea, the winner of Spain’s Young Chef of the Year in 2001, and the owner of the highly successful Basque restaurant Jauregibarria Jatetxea has even been flown in to consult on the menu. This is the real thing, here.

Cafe Barcelona’s room is a charmer. An intimate, cozy space with bar stools, high-tops, banquette seating, and Spanish art begs to you to grab a perch and stay for a while. If liquor law would allow, it could be a late, late night sensation. However, for now, check in prior to midnight for an all-out authentic experience.

Address: 1049 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC
Contact: 778-885-5522
Cuisine: Tapas
Area: Granville
Venue: Restaurant, Bar
Hours: Daily: 12:00pm – 12:00am
Price Range: $$$ (Within Reach)
Payment: Master Card, Visa, American Express

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