La Boqueria Market’s Big 3: Pinotxo Bar, Kiosk Universal & El Quim

You cannot go to Barcelona without visiting La Boqueria Market. It is without a doubt the most popular market in the city that dates back to 1217. Filled with Tapas Bars, Produce stalls, and stalls specializing in food-related souvenirs for a tourist to bring home, there are three must-trys in La Boqueria: Pinotxo Bar, Kiosk Universal and El Quim de la Boqueria. I went into the market assuming I would leave recommending one of the three. I was so wrong. Now my only conclusion is: go for all as them three could not be more different from each other.

Pinotxo Bar offers delicious traditional tapas, Kiosk Universal specializes in magnificent seafood dishes in big and hearty portions, and El Quim specializes in exquisite Catalan food. See, how was I to recommend just one out of the three?! My parents and I were in heaven with the endless variations of Spanish and Catalan Tapas.

Before I go on and show you what we had, I have to say that ordering at all of the three bars was difficult. Unfamiliar with Spanish terms, and with them speaking little English, we resorted to pointing at the food of other diners or those on display and hoped for the best. Even though every dish we had turned out to be as marvellous as the next, I could not help but wonder if we missed out on some uber special dish not listed on the menu. And that would be my Fear Of Missing Out syndrome kicking in…

Pinotxo Bar

Pinotxo Bar is fronted by the charismatic Juanito Bayern. Google “Pinotxo Bar” and his pictures will be EVERYWHERE. Watch a documentary on La Boqueria Market and I’m pretty sure he will make a appearance too. But Pinotxo Bar also serves up REALLY GOOD tapas. We had a meal at Tapas 24 the evening before. Supposedly one of the most famous, we wondered why after Pinotxo. We visited Pinotxo just when it opened: 8am, and were greeted with a huge smile by Senor Bayern. You know me, always the eager-beaver and inability to deal with crowds. Thank goodness my parents felt the same and gladly allowed me to nag at them (just this once) to get ready and leave our hotel by 7.30am so that we could get down to Pinotxo in time.

We began our first breakfast on a right note with their version of the Spanish tortilla accompanied with a slice of Pana con tomato. Instead of the usual cubes of fried potatoes, the potatoes were mashed up and cleverly blended into the egg mixture. It was a very good start and we knew within seconds that we were up for a good meal.

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The fork tender stewed beef tripe in a thick tomato sauce blew us away!

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Another thinner omelette (beaten eggs with an Aubergine and Tomato jus) was slightly sweet and oh-so appetizing!

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The Butifara sausage was heavy on the garlic and its sturdy texture made us smile.

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The Croquetas (two types: ham and mushroom) was another must-order but it was the strong truffly mushroom that did it for me.

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The Chickpeas were huge but the only letdown due to the lack of astounding flavours.

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The best was the Xuixos; a deep-fried Catalan doughnut with light custard filling. We were dead impressed with this and the Spaniards definitely can produce pastries to rival the French.

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In all our first breakfast for three cost us โ‚ฌ38.90 including three black coffees.

Kiosk Universal

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For our second breakfast, despite stuffed beyond words thanks to Pinotxo, we could not resist the wide array of seafood displayed at Kiosk Universal. Apparently Anthony Bourdain visited this bar as well. As No Reservation-addicts, that nailed it for us. The hype was called for. We had a slew of marvelous seafood dishes at big hearty portions that made us swoon.

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Clams garnished with a green parsley olive oil sauce:

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Razorclams were epic!

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Grilled Seabass accompanied with deep-fried artichokes was my Dad’s favourite dish of the trip.

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This bar was a genius to turn a simple platter of Wild Mushrooms into the most appetizing dish we ever ate.

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El Quim de la Boqueria (Stalls 584-585-606-607-608-609)

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The next day at El Quim, we were surprised by the exquisiteness of the Catalan dishes offered here that could rival Michelin-starred restaurants anytime. I simply pointed to two platters: Chicken thighs and Cod Fish.ย Later I was told they were the day’s specials. Lucky us. They were neatly lined up in their respective platters but when served, the plating astounded us.

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Grilled Chicken thigh with an Apricot Glaze, Caramelised Apples with Deep-fried strips of Artichokes and raspberries on Balsamic Vinegar drizzle.

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Codfish with an aubergine disk, halved tomatoes and cheese(?)

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Unlike the oily meat we are used to in South East Asia, cod fish in Barcelona are much sturdier, meaty and less oily. It was completely unexpected and an absolute delight!

Another Catalan classic: Butifarra with White Beans and Mayo. We had the same sausage in Pinotxo but this version had a more heavy-handed seasoning, which we preferred.

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Huevos con chipirones – Eggs with small squids. A simple dish consisting of two deep-fried eggs with runny yolks and fried baby squid. That’s it.

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This was indescribably good. You will just sit there eating and wondering how the hell something so simple could taste so good.

I made good use of the complimentary baguette and wedged them in. Divine.

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If baby squid is not your thing, accompany your fried eggs with foie gras or caviar! ๐Ÿ™‚

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You MUST visit La Boqueria Market. It ain’t no tourist trap if every tourist goes and has the most revelating experience ever!

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