The streets of La Barceloneta area are filled with a chaotic, never-ending parade of tapas bars, taverns, restaurants and dives where you can find all kinds of food – many with a distinctive fishy smell and taste of seafood. With the district’s proximity to the Mediterranean, fame as a fishing district and dingy past, how could it be any other way?
Right in the thick of all this, as you step into the central Plaza de la Iglesia (as it’s known in the area), a tavern run by a family with a strong culinary heritage also comes into view: L’Òstia Taverna Gastronòmica (Plaza de la Barceloneta 1-3).
The restaurant is situated a stone’s throw from where the owners’ grandfather’s bar was to be found; in the same place as their mother Pepi was born. And that more or less sums up L’Òstia, which breathes local tradition at the same time as it adapts to modern times. This leads to the best of both worlds: an air of nostalgia with a culinary offering appropriate for modern times.
Authentic Mediterranean restaurant
Here’s some advice for when you arrive at this Barceloneta restaurant for the first time: don’t be scared off by the fact that the menu’s displayed in various languages. L’Òstia is not a typical beachside tourist trap at all. We had to say it or we wouldn’t have been able to continue our review! Now, you can read on.
Once that’s out of the way, you should know that in this menu (there’s a winter and a summer version according to the time of year) you’ll find sufficiently wide variety to allow everyone to enjoy their choice. In fact, we recommend that you take your time choosing dishes, you won’t be hungry enough to try all the ones you want and if you’re not careful you’ll leave regretting your decision. Although the good news is that you can come back anytime to satisfy your curiosity. And a third to crown your ideal meal 😉
The menu features a generous variety of salads, highly recommended for summer and for all guests who like to eat their greens. One of the best is made from burrata cheese and tomato – balanced and refreshing. Now that introductions are over, you can get stuck into what you’ve really come for: tapas and mains.
In order to not drag things out unnecessarily, we’ll cut to the chase and give our own, admittedly subjective, selection of favourites from the menu. What is an absolute must-try? We’d definitely suggest the tapas dish made from parmentier with foie, yolk and truffles: egg-lovers will be as happy as clams. And keeping on a similar theme, the oxtail stew with parmentier comes very highly recommended indeed (we’d even dare to say that those who don’t like oxtail will enjoy it).
Several dishes you might have tried in other restaurants (but definitely won’t have enjoyed as much as you will here) also deserve a mention. A deceptively simple dish of Roman-style calamares will make you fall off your chair (in a good way). Then, try some genuine patatas bravas: this is the only place we’ve seen them served with meat, and they’re made in a unique way. Finish it all off with a tuna tartar on avocado, full of exquisite flavour.
You’ll probably be in pieces by the time you get to dessert. If you still have a corner left to be filled, the apple pie looks incredible, and the way it meets the eye also translates well into taste. Some truffles and a coffee would be a perfect way to round off a copious meal.
For breakfast, lunch, dinner or a few light bites
You can visit L’Òstia at any time of day. It’s also a good choice for a full breakfast, and when you’ll see it busiest will be more than anything on the outside terrace when it’s time for an aperitivo (the serve a house vermouth with a pleasant sweet touch), as well as outdoors and in during lunch and dinner.
We should let you know that the bill can easily rack up to €30 per head in one sitting, although the price-quality ratio is extraordinary – you’ll be happy to shell out. You can go with friends, as a family and even with little ones – special chairs are provided by the restaurant. Furthermore, the team will treat you very decently, offer options outside the menu and know how to advise as to the ideal quantity of dishes you should order.
The only thing left to say is that if you’re looking for somewhere to eat in a place that emanates tradition and modernity in parallel in an enclave full of authenticity, sign up for a good “Òstia” 😉