When you visit Barcelona’s Boqueria market, come hungry. You will not want to leave without having a meal at Bar Pinotxo, a 14-seat—make that 14-stool—establishment that is nearing its 100th anniversary. Proprietor Juanito Bayen—known to all as Pinotxo (pee-no-cho)—greets even newcomers like family. Don’t bother asking for a menu. Just ask “What’s good today?”
Pinotxo’s nephew, chef Albert Asin, mans the stoves here. And with just a sliver of a space to work in, he turns out expert versions of Catalan classics. Bar Pinotxo is the place to sample some of Valencia’s huge repertoire of rice dishes, made with the plump, round Bomba rice. If you only have a small appetite, you can just have a tapa or two. Pinotxo is a great place to sample Catalan tapas
Everyone that comes to Pinotxo will not go away without ordering their fork-tender stewed beef tripe in a thick tomato sauce – Callos. Unlike the Madrid version, callos a la madrileña, which is usually cooked with other ingredients like pork and beans with bell peppers, Pinotxo’s version is just beef tripe cooked with a slushy, orangey tomato sauce. You have to mop it all up with the bread that Juanito will give as much as you like.
Chipirones con Judias, soft baby squid with cannellini beans, the dish par excellence at Pinotxo, only rivalled by Juanito’s (the bar owner) chickpeas with blood sausage. The squid was cooked just right. Some others I have tried overcooked the squid until they were chewy. Here’s the beans were mushy but the squid was perfecto. And the balsamic reduction that was drizzled across, heavenly.
Mejillones en vinagreta de Sidra, mussels with cider vinegar, was served cold. It went perfect with the cold beer and hot weather. The mussels were steamed and then topped with a salsa made with chopped onions, pepper, pickles and seasoned with black peppercorn and cider vinegar. Very simple, but you need really fresh mussels. The mussels in Barcelona were very good (so far).
And everything goes down well with beer. Pilsner Urquell, is a Czech lager brewed by the Pilsner Urquell Brewery in Plzeň, Czech Republic. Pilsner Urquell is the world’s first blond or pale lager, and its popularity meant it was much copied. Strange why would I not order a San Miguel or other Spanish beer? Because, they only served Urquell here. Either that or a cava (sparkling wine), too early in the day for cava – I wrongly assumed.
Bar Pinotxo is arguably La Boqueria’s, and even Barcelona’s, best tapas bar. The ever-charming owner, Juanito, might serve up chickpeas with pine nuts and raisins, a soft mix of potato and spinach sprinkled with salt, soft baby squid with cannellini beans, or a quivering cube of caramel-sweet pork belly. Come hungry, and then leave satisfied. I did.
Mercat de la Boqueria, 466-470
Barcelona · Catalunya, Spain
Tel.+34 933 171 731
Date visited : Jun 2018