Traditional Catalan Fare at Bar Pinotxo, Mercat La Boqueria, Barcelona

Magical culinary wonders await us behind the gates of Sant Josep market, otherwise known as La Boqueria in Barcelona

Another toda la vida establishment in Barcelona, Bar Pinotxo in the Mercat de la Boqueria may not be 'Cheers' where everybody knows your name, but it sure is where everybody knows Juanito. The mythical bartender, chef and entertainer at Pintoxo Bar, which in Catalan stands for Pinocchio, is a Barcelona legend and city emblem. One can't pass through Las Ramblas, Barcelona's busiest street without likely running into this famed kiosk. Friends of Ferran Adrià, cheek rubbing politicians, housewives and tourists, Juanito Bayen not only rules this corner, he owns the bulk of the attention. Nowadays not a single guidebook in Japanese, English, Dutch, or German is published without the inclusion of Pinotxo - but this doesn't stop the locals from stopping by for a meal, glass of cava, or a tallat (cortado in Spanish, a coffee with a dash of milk) and a Catalan xuxo, the most delicious sugar-crusted-custard-filled-fried-pastry you'll even wrap those paper silly thin Spanish napkins around.

Your best bet is to put your faith in the Pinotxo staff, Juanito or his nephew Albert Asin (now Jordi Asin*) in-charge of the itsy-bitsy stove and let them serve you the daily special(s), diving into traditional Catalan market cuisine at its finest and freshest. But if you are stubborn like me or you've done your homework and read up on their famous dishes like cigrons (garbanzos in Spanish, see picture below), cap i pota (offal stew of veal meat, literally means head and front/hind leg),  calamarsons amb mongetes (baby squid with white beans), or esqueixada (salted cod salad) you can rattle of the names and see what they have on hand, or you can take a peek around and point at what you want. However I recommend you go early, around 8am, as food tends to run out, also there is something very magical about the market's hustle and bustle of the early morning hours and you'll have a clean view of the vendors starting their day, as well as a seat at the bar! Otherwise, I can't promise there will be room for you or your appetite. Breakfast and lunch at Pinotxo are unprecedented; I also love passing by this 14 seat wonder for a merienda, a warm café con leche and a flan around 4:30pm. Either way you're in for a treat!

 This Catalan painter couldn't resist the renowned spot which is Pinotxo Bar in La Boqueria 

Garbanzos a la Pinotxo, I believe the recipe depends on what's on hand at Pinotxo or what is in season at the market, however on my visit there was clear presence of Catalan butifarra sausage, pine nuts, parsley, and almost a Moroccan touch of cinnamon. 

Juanito Bayen of Pinotxo Bar with his famous bow tie and Juan Luis Royuela of Quesos La Cabezuela got along like two peas in a pod. Brothers from another mother? Regardless we were served up a hell of a breakfast in La Boqueria. 

Mercat de la Boqueria, Stall 466-467
Rambla de Sant Josep 91
Barcelona Catalonia 08002
Metro: Liceu 
+34 933 17 17 31 

Closed Sundays and Catalan/Spanish National holidays 
Mondays - Saturdays 6:00-17:00

*UPDATE: Gerry Dawes kindly let me know that my sources were wrong, and therefore many many pages on the internet regarding Pinotxo Bar. Unfortunately, La Boqueria lost another culinary soul; Albert Asin died in February 2011. Since then Jordi Asin has taken his place manning the gas stoves. 

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Planning a trip to Barcelona? Follow along my culinary journey through Spain and the world on my Facebook page Sobremesa In Spain. Thanks for reading!


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