Patatas Bravas – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Living in Barcelona, you can’t escape the delight that is a bowl of patatas bravas (brave potatoes) . Forget the crappy bowls of sweaty peanuts you might get given in a British pub, a big bowl of potatoes, covered in spicy tomato sauce and enough garlic aioli to require a chewing gum, is the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer in the sunshine.

However, no two places in the city do bravas the same way. And this is where the trouble starts. Sometimes a bowl will turn up that looks like when your mum ran out of money at the end of the month and had to resort to whatever was left at the back of the freezer for dinner. When this happens the disappointment is palpable.

So for this reason I am starting this post, where I will review all the bravas I try in Barcelona, and maybe save you some of the disappointment I have suffered.

Quiroga, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 566, 08011 Barcelona

  • Potato type: Frozen, fried, dry, no salt
  • Sauce type: Only one, bravas sauce
  • Cheap (to be expected in this type of bar)
  • ⭐⭐

These are fairly typical of some of the cheap cafes around Barcelona. It was a super cheap place where you can go and get food and beer while you watch the football. So I feel bad rating them so low given the expectations were low to begin with, so I gave an extra star for price and volume. If you come here avoid the bravas and go for the sandwiches – they are huge baguettes with generous fillings – I definitely had food envy.

Vermuteria La Guapa

Carrer del Comte d’Urgell, 146, 08011 Barcelona

  • Potato type: Real potato wedges (not frozen)
  • Sauce type: Real aioli, tomato sauce is chunky & spicy
  • Medium price
  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐

These were so tasty, in fact all of the food here is great – highly recommended. It is also just a generally nice place to be in, with a cosy atmosphere. The only reason they didn’t get 5 stars is that I would have liked more. I almost stabbed my brother with a fork when I thought he was eating more than his fair share.

Bianca y Nero , Carrer de Viladomat, 85, 08015 Barcelona

  • Potato type: Real potato wedges (possibly frozen but not bad for it)
  • Sauce type: Herby mayo, tomato sauce is chunky & spicy
  • Medium price
  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ok so I don’t actually remember eating these. I think wine might have something to do with that. But the notes were definitely written at the time on my phone, so I’m going to trust Drunk Rae on this one. Looking at the pictures on Google the place looks lovely.

Txapela

Plaça de Catalunya, 8, 08007 Barcelona

  • Potato type: Frozen, fried, dry, no salt
    Sauce type: Only one, bravas sauce
  • Medium price (tiny portion!)

This one completely serves me right. Only an idiot would go anywhere near the food places in this part of the city centre, where reheated food is served at a premium to tourists. But I was with friends who wanted to stop in a bar with outside seats and would not walk any further. It is actually a pinxos place (little tapas on top of bread) which looked ok, but I’ve seen better. What really put the nail in the coffin though is when my friends ordered cocktails for around 7 euros each only to discover they were alcohol free. If you want to see enraged British people – this is how you do it. Teehee. Should have ordered beer.

Bar Lobo

Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 3, 08001 Barcelona

  • Potato type: Mini roast potatoes, didn’t appear to be frozen.
    Sauce type: Aioli that was quite light on the garlic. Then there was chilli oil drizzled over the top which was quite nice if different to usual.
  • Medium price
  • ⭐⭐⭐

Ok so although this only has three stars for the bravas – the rest of the food was really good. I didn’t have high hopes for it because it is so close to La Rambla and so I thought it might be tourist fare but this was a great place, and also managed to meet the tapas expectations of my visiting friends. 

L’aixopluc

Carrer de Londres, 1, 08029 Barcelona

  • Potato type: Mini roast potatoes
    Sauce type: Aioli that was quite light on the garlic. Thick but not chunky, spicy tomato sauce
  • Medium price
  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐

These bravas were also wine fuelled so probably take this one with a pinch of salt. But they were roasted to perfection. And the tomato sauce was super tasty. What brought it down from being five stars was the aioli. It tasted fine, I just find something really visually off putting about creamy sauces that look a little like cottage cheese, or to my eyes – curdled. Same when you open a yogurt at its separated a bit. Bleugh. The other food was lovely though.

Check back from time to timeI’ll add new ones every time I try somewhere new!

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