Trendy neighbourhood bar with sophisticated tapas dishes
If you walked down Carrer Vallespir a couple of years ago you would have found little to get excited about. Long and leafy, it is the epitome of Sants’ workaday neighbourhood vibes and is mainly frequented by long-time locals. Today however, though it still retains its low-key charms, things are quite different and the arrival of a number of trendy bars and restaurants has seen it gradually transform into a gastro-destination that rivals any of the more established areas of the city centre.
La Mundana is one such establishment and in many ways the most important. Why? Because it’s unashamedly hip and modern. Because the food is clever and showy. And because the staff are young and glamorous. This is not just an old man bar under new management, this is a fully-fledged foodie temple.
From the outside, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just another hipster vermouth bar. It is after all self-titled as a ‘vermuteria’. But as soon as you step inside, where the team of staff busy around a long bar preparing various tapas dishes, you soon realise that this is something special. The walls are clad in funky wallpaper and colourful artwork, lit by chic lighting installations.
The space is small and packed with chunky wooden tables, which means there’s a great deal of buzz and energy during peak dining times.
Chefs Alain Guiard and Marc Martin are experimental and passionate about “living the good life”. They draw inspiration from Japan, France and, but of course, the Mediterranean, and big flavours abound at this little locale.
Stop by for a casual drink and a few nibbles at the bar with classic vermuteria tapas such as Cantabrian anchovies, boquerrones drizzled in oil and vinegar and green olive banderillas. Try the Thai-style razor clam tartar with fried tomatoes, keffir lime and fennel for a glimpse at the chefs’ more experimental creative ability.
Lunch and dinner is always packed out so you’d be wise to book a table in advance. For a chance to see why, sample your way through delights off the grill like grilled foie with roasted pumpkin, quince and amaretto jelly, and skewers of octopus and bacon with aubergine and coconut caviar.
The particularly interesting dessert menu is a dream for those with a sweet tooth, boasting the likes of chocolate mousse with yuzu cream and marshmallow, cakes ladled with hot rum, and matcha tea and coconut with mango and meringue.
Fifteen different types of vermouth support its “vermuteria” credentials and are sourced mainly from Catalonia, as well as farther a field across Spain. Try the white “Padró Blanco” vermouth from Tarragona or the dark and raunchy “Dos Déus” vermouth from Priorat to see why the Catalans’ vermouth sales are catching up with the Italians.
La Mundana is fresh and exciting and offers a fun dining experience. There’s no doubt that the food is made with love, and even though service can be a little bit hectic at times you can’t help but feel inspired by the magic that seems to take over this unassuming little neighbourhood gastrobar. A true hidden gem.
By Ben Holbrook http://www.driftwoodjournals.com
La MundanaCarrer del Vallespir, 93, 08014 Barcelona, Spain
Area: Sants / Montjuïc
Website: La Mundana - Barcelona
Opening hours: Tuesday to Thursday 1–3:30PM, 8–11:30PM, Friday and Saturday 1–4PM, 8PM–12AM, Sunday 1–4PM, Monday closed
Phone: +34 934 08 80 23
Metro/Bus: Plaça del Centre, Sants Estació,