Pinotxo Bar is something of an institution at La Boqueria Market in Barceonla. Located right near the entrance of the market, the tiny 14-seat restaurant is bustling with activity from the moment it opens in the morning, both with cooks behind the counter and with hungry patrons waiting for seats out front. Pinotxo is recommended in just about every guidebook on Barcelona and in most of the newspaper/magazine articles you read that mention the market. The bar has been there just about forever, according to bowtie-clad Juan Bayen, the owner of Pinotxo who can always be found behind the counter, and it serves tourists and locals alike with high quality food.
Like El Quim and the other restaurants in the market, the food served here is some of the freshest you can get and most, if not all, of the ingredients come from neighboring stalls. There are some staples on the menu, but much of it changes on a daily basis according to what they have to work with.
When you walk up, you’ll have to wait for seats, lurking near people who look like they’re almost done eating so that you can claim their stools. Once you sit, either Juan himself or one of the other friendly staff members will run down a list of specials (or you can point to something in the case) for you to choose from. I saw people eating all kinds of meat and seafood dishes, washing it down with wine and cava.
Some of the dishes I tried included ham and cheese croquettes (on every tapas menu in town and one of my favorite bar snacks), which are in the background of this picture, and fried white fish in a garlic sauce with fried garlic slices on top. The fish was flaky, tender and very fresh, with a perfectly light, crisp crust. The garlic and oil were light and mild, not heavy at all.
My favorite dish, however, was the beef cheek stew. Beef cheeks are a relatively inexpensive ingredient that you’ll pay a premium for at some high end restaurants here at home. At Pinotxo they were still a value item and incredibly well prepared. The meat literally melted in your mouth, and the sauce surrounding the meat was rich and velvety, bursting with flavor. There were some rather big pieces of fat in the fish (most of which, to be honest, got left on my plate) but not one bit of the meat or gravy did.