Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Irati Taverna Basca

No mater where you go in Spain, you can always find small bites in bars, served alongside wine and cava, the Spanish version of champagne. Most restaurants serve a few tapas, but few tapas bars serve full meals. Luckily for visitors to Barcelona, you can find both full meals and the traditional Basque tapas called pintxos, pronounced pinchos, at Irati Taverna Basca, on a side street just off La Rambla in Barri Gotic.

Although banderillas, small pickled items including olives, small onions, anchovies and peppers on wooden skewers, can be considered both tapas and pintxos, what typically differentiates the two is something as simple as a slice of bread. The sausage above are pintxos, although they would be called tapas if just the sausages were served in an oven baking dish, the same can be said of the tortilla espanola to the right, an egg and potato omelette. Most of these and the following can be found just about anywhere.

Iberico ham; red Piquillo peppers, usually stuffed with tuna or cheese; cheese with fruit preserves and nuts; mini croissants with meat; pickled, white anchovies; or smoked salmon are common enough ingredients. Irati stands out in the less typical, and more creatively thought out combinations of ingredients.

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" or the simple salmon pintxo in the foreground on the left. They are mere distractions. The real stars of this plate are the 3 pintxos at the back and on the right of the plate. I cannot enter the doors of Irati without ordering them. I stopped counting at 5 servings of each. Please don't ask me which is my favorite, because I couldn't possibly choose. They're like triplets,  each with their own personalities, and each one as precious as the other two, just different. 

The purple color of this pintxo is created by combining minced red cabbage with crab. It's topped by anchovy, fried Padron pepper, a slice of Piquillo pepper, tomato, and the ever so over-the-top squiggle of cream cheese.
This crab salad made with mayonnaise and crab is topped with shredded egg white. So very simple, but very satisfying for taste as well as eye appeal. Most patrons seem surprised that the topping is egg white and not cheese.
For anyone with a sweet tooth, this cream cheese pintxo, covered in a thin layer of blueberry preserve, is a life raft in the savory sea of pintxos at Irati. I take it as my last bite and treat it as though it were a dessert. Although I have been to Irati at least half a dozen times, I have yet to try their full meals. I never seem to be able to get beyond the pintxos bar and into their dining room. The following is a photo essay of some of the other pintxos:

As you walk up La Rambla from the water, to find Irati look for the Dragon Lantern on your right and walk down the stairs, then turn left. Within 2 or 3 blocks, you will see Irati on the left.

Irati Menu

Carrer del Cardenal Casanas, 17 
08002 Barcelona, Spain