In an age when Spanish food has become internationally hip, and tapas in particular even more so, it can often be hard to find somewhere truly traditional and authentic. Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter and the Born area in particular have become a foodie mecca and you can hardly move for tapas bars heralding their cutting-edge culinary wizardry. However, those in the know who want something more traditional at prices which won’t break the bank, head for Bar Celta.
TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL | PHOTOS: JELIEN MOERMAN
“For us,” says Ángel Gallego, manager of Bar Celta, “it’s about cooking with love.” Bar Celta has long been an essential destination on the insider’s foodie map and has two restaurants – one at Carrer de Simó Oller 3, very close to Barcelona’s old port area, and the other at Carrer de la Princesa 50, just moments from the beautiful Ciutadella Park and zoo and the Picasso Museum. At both branches you’ll rub shoulders with neighbourhood locals, families visiting the park on Sundays and restaurant chefs in search of the real culinary deal.
Originally founded some 50 years ago, Bar Celta is still run by the same Galician family and the restaurants are renowned for their hearty portions and exceptional home cooking. Specialities include specially sourced, super-fresh Galician octopus (pulpo), pimientos de padron (or, padron peppers), pig’s ears and ‘calamares’. Not to mention one of the Bar’s signature dishes and also one of their most popular: patatas bravas made with Bar Celta’s own sauce, which is still made to a highly guarded recipe handed down over generations.
“We’re not looking to create designer tapas or new dishes, with foams or purées,” explains Gallego. “That’s not what we’re about. Our dishes are based on the recipes we learnt from our grandmothers and it’s getting harder and harder to find real, authentic cooking like that. For us, it’s about paying attention to every detail to create exactly the right kinds of flavours. What we do is about cooking with love and with affection. Cooking from the heart.”