With almost 6,000 kilometers of coast (5,978 to be exact), Spain is the world’s second largest consumer of fish and seafood per resident (the first being, no surprise, Japan). Bathed by the cold Atlantic on one side and the warmer Mediterranean on the other, the country harbors a wide variety of habitats that have made it easy to source many different species of marisco (seafood) and fish. While these fruits of the sea are available at all kinds of Spanish restaurants and bars, the best way to guarantee a magnificent seafood feast is to go to a proper marisquería.
A perfect example is La Barca del Pescador. Opened in 1964 as El Pescador (“The Fisherman”), this marisquería was handed over to its employees in 1997. The new owners, which included the current manager, Rogelio Edo, changed the name (“The Fisherman’s Boat” in Spanish) but kept doing the exact same thing they were before: serving up traditional Spanish fish and seafood dishes.
The restaurant’s products and recipes come from all around the Iberian Peninsula: percebes (goose barnacles), clams, oysters, centollo (European spider crabs), nécora (velvet crabs) and cockles from Galicia in northwestern Spain; excellent large red shrimp and langoustines from Huelva in the south; shrimp, sea snails, squid and sea cucumbers from the Mediterranean in the east; and two different razor clams from both sides, the big and delicate ones from the Atlantic and the smaller and intense ones from the Mediterranean, are just some examples. There’s a whole Iberian spectrum of seafood that arrives every day to this fisherman’s boat moored on the inner streets of the Eixample Esquerra (Left Eixample) neighborhood in Barcelona.
To get this fantastic, mostly wild product (although some exceptions are farmed, like the dorada, gilt-head bream, prepared a la sal, in salt, for which they require a specific size), they have a buyer that goes every morning to Mercabarna, Barcelona’s wholesale market, to get the best fresh fish available for the day’s menu. In this way, the dishes sometimes change depending on what’s on offer at the market, but they can always guarantee freshness and quality.
For such high quality seafood and fish, prices here are fair (though not low). In fact, La Barca del Pescador is a restaurant and fishmonger, all in one, where you can buy fresh fish to cook at home or some boiled shrimp to take away. Another option is to choose your favorite items from the seafood counter to be cooked in the resturant’s kitchen, for which you pay by the weight. All this is in addition to their regular menu of tapas and main dishes.
The best way to guarantee a magnificent seafood feast is to go to a proper marisquería.
If you decide to eat directly in “the boat,” you can choose from four different spaces: the 20-meter-long bar in front of their main open kitchen that houses the grill, nearby the fishmonger counter and perfect for a casual meal; the discreet dining room before the second inner kitchen; a more private upper floor area ideal for big group celebrations; or the few tables on the street terrace.
In any case, dishes and tapas flow from one space to the other with no limits. More than the simple elaborations of boiled or grilled fish and seafood, where the ingredients are the dominant element, their more creative dishes are particularly delightful, including must-tries like the succulent seafood paella (in a juicy Catalan style) and fideuá (noodles), lobster rice, and the great fish soups and calderetas (fish stews). Their vieras al horno (baked scallops), served in their shell with a sofrito of onion and ham with breadcrumbs, are a love song to one of the most celebrated Galician meals.
That’s not to say those simple dishes aren’t delicious. The grilled squid perfectly respects the mollusk’s natural flavors, and the fried anchovies are an impeccable tapa that is best washed down with a fresh beer.
A good choice to taste a little bit of this and a little bit of that is their salpicón de marisco, a refreshing traditional Spanish dish served cold with a smorgasbord of cooked fish and seafood seasoned like a salad, with olive oil and wine vinegar. Here the dish is loaded with meaty prawns, mussels, razor clams and cockles combined with onions, bell peppers and peas. Other combinations, like the very Catalan mushroom (yellow chanterelles and milk-caps) with shrimp, are available depending on the season.
While the seafood assortment, which you can personalize with the products of your choice, is the best option for lovers of all things fishy, the restaurant also offers a few meat options in case you’re the lone member of your party to prefer turf to surf. Out of those, we recommend the Galician veal steak or the entrecotes.
If back in the day fish and seafood was a food for poor people, nowadays it’s a cause for celebration, even on a regular weekday. And La Barca del Pescador’s long bar adds 20 more meters to the almost 6,000 kilometers of glorified coastline in Spain.
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