Update 2017: As feared, this incredible locale has permanently closed. If you can suggest an alternative, please do so in the comments!
Ten years ago, on a break from studying abroad in Italy, I wandered the streets of Barcelona for the first time with my friends. We spent a few days exploring the city sights, indulging in the cuisine, and trying to keep up with the nightlife (ouch).
One of our aimless walks around the side alleys of La Rambla led us to a tiny tapas bar that, after about three hours of eating, drinking and laughing under the dim lights and low ceilings, we deemed the best tapas in Barcelona. The owners and other patrons seemed to welcome us as if we were all family, and we didn’t mind the affordable prices or strong sangría, either. I made a few mental notes of how to get to this place, determined that I would return someday for its tasty tapas and cozy atmosphere.
Ten years later, I found myself back on La Rambla for the first time since, with a mission to make it back to this place. I didn’t even know the name, so I couldn’t possibly ask for directions. I had my vague mental notes and a determination to recreate my experience from so long ago.
Here are my mental notes, which are actually still the best directions to this hidden gem (it’s called Les Tapes).
Walk down (or up) La Rambla, and when you see a McDonalds on a corner with a KFC right next to it, turn onto that street (north).
Follow that street until it opens up into a plaza. You can’t miss it, if you’re unsure, keep going. Then look for an alley leading out of that plaza with a yellow circle sign on one wall. It is the back right exit of the plaza.
Go down the alley for about a hundred meters until it opens up into a tiny, triangular plaza, where you will see Les Tapes on the right. BOOM.
When we found it (about 3pm) it was closed for siesta, but a man nearby said it would reopen at 5pm. Dinner was planned.
Not only did we return after 5pm for a scrumptious plate of tapas, just how I remembered them (and still cheap!), but I also asked the server about the place. She happened to be the owner and said she’d owned it with her husband for the last 33 years. It was the same. The same owners, the same tapas, the same decor as I remembered from 10 years ago. I was proud of my memory for getting us there, and my stomach was so happy to indulge in those tapas once again.
There is a chance this restaurant will not be there next year. I made it back just in time. The owners may retire, and the person who owns the building may not renew the lease for the restaurant to continue.
If you want to enjoy this gem in the heart of Barcelona, get there fast!