“Maybe we just come into this world to cover vacancies, and everyone has to resign themselves to whatever they get.” – Pere Calders
Sometimes you can just tell when a place has a bit of a buzz to it. Bar Calders is one of those places: despite obviously having become very popular over the years, it retains an element of authenticity which make it a reference in the local area.
Based in Poble Sec, it’s not far from the centre, but just far enough to draw in local crowds, as well as a few inevitable tourists. Bar Calders is located in the Passatge Calders, named after the famous Catalan author, on Calle Parlament, one of the district’s most up-and-coming streets in the area between the Avinguda Paral·lel and Sant Antoni market.
The decoration is a curious mix of local Catalan Art Nouveau style and Mexican, with old-fashioned floor tiles and colourful accents all over. It might seem like an odd combination, but aesthetically it’s a good one, and from place mats printed with board games to chalk boards covered with neon writing, no detail has been spared. Bar Calders has an intimate, appealing feel, even if it is a little on the small side and has, as one reviewer described, “an even greater percentage of hipsters per square metre than music festival Primavera Sound“.
You’ll predominantly find tapas here, with the same mix of Catalan and Mexican influences. We tried the Xips Braves (€3.90), Bar Calders’ unique take on patatas bravas that are more like homemade crisps served with a delicious mixture of three different sauces – brava sauce, spiced mayonnaise and cream; as well as the Patates al Provolone (€4.90), a terrine full of potatoes baked with a topping of provolone cheese, caramelised onion, pumpkin seeds and cranberries. It’s as good as it sounds. You can also order items like mini pizzas (around €6) if you’re feeling hungrier.
In terms of drinks, this is a popular place to come to enjoy the traditional Catalan aperitivo: vermouth! As we mention in our previous article, vermouth has become fashionable over the years, and Bar Calders pays homage to this with their own range. We tried the red house vermouth, which cost a very reasonable €1.80, as well as the vermouth del Falset, a sweeter white variety from close to Tarragona which was mixed with a touch of orange juice – a great choice if you normally find the taste of vermouth a little strong. Both, of course, came served with an olive. Other notable drinks on Bar Calders’ menu include the michelada, the classic Mexican hangover cure made from beer, lemon juice, salt and a mix of spices.
As well as the inside area, Bar Calders also has an outdoor terrace on the pedestrianised passatge outside. It’s a great place to bring your friends on a summer evening, but beware – outside spaces are in even higher demand than seats inside the tiny bar itself!
A miniature hub of activity, the space also holds events such as live music concerts or book launch parties. Check their Facebook page for more details.
Another point in Bar Calders’ favour was the service we received. Waiting staff are friendly, approachable and genuinely helpful, recommending items on the menu and suggesting alternatives. Obviously, this adds an immeasurable amount to the experience.
In general, we highly recommend Bar Calders, which is an ideal place to kick off a night out or talk into the small hours with a small group of friends or recover over lunch the next day. The food and drinks are good quality, on the whole reasonably priced and served in a great atmosphere. The main disadvantage is how full it can get for a relatively small space. Personally, I quite like a healthy buzz when I’m eating, but if you’re particularly sensitive to noise or need to have a heart-to-heart with a friend without distractions, you might like to go elsewhere.
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