Whatever the reason that you, among millions of others, have chosen this vibrant, sun-soaked city for your getaway destination, it would be very rude not to sample the local cuisine, and you might as well do it properly by taking the L6 metro line from Plaza Cataluña up to Sarrià, to pay a visit to the famous, Bar Tomás.
Curiosity about the true nature of these fabled bravas drove me on my first saunter uptown, to the neighbourhood of Sarrià. Ever the skeptic, I was determined to be disappointed, but those bravas melt blissfully in your mouth, dripping with aioli and chili sauce. The other reasonably priced tapas they have on offer, such as croquets, tortilla de patata (Spanish omelet) and Iberian ham, are not far behind their famous crowd-drawers in terms of quality.
The interior is, however, underwhelming and a little dated but even this, considering the celebrity status surrounding the place, adds to its carefree attitude. I imagine if I were to say to the waiter “did you know you have the best bravas in Barcelona?” his nonchalantly reply would be, “a si?” It´s refreshing to see places sticking to their roots, and Bar Tomás has certainly done that.
One small complaint, which shouldn´t make too much of a difference assuming you come from a culture that has dinner while the sun is still up, is that the place closes at 10pm every night – I learned that the hard way!
The people and the place
The crowd the bar attracts is refreshingly varied too, and the manageable distance from the city center is enough to filter out the worst of the tourists. Groups of teenagers, families, huddles of old men eyeing the adolescents distrustfully, they’re all there, and you should be too.
If you’re strapped for time, or you´d simply prefer to continue your exploration of the neighbourhood, you can even get a tray of bravas to go or “para llevar” and find a quiet spot to consume your prize.
Some of the discreetly hidden plazas that Sarrià has to offer are ideal for this. They range from larger busier squares, prime territory for people watching to smaller secluded ones for simply enjoying the sunshine and the sound of parrots singing, it won´t take you long to find whichever you fancy.
One thing you´ll notice about this bar and neighbourhood is the authentic feel and style. It´s not common to hear English in Sarrià or Bar Tomas (so take your Catalan dictionary with you), as it is on La Rambla; this is local Barcelona and it really adds a certain untouched charm to the place which is truly not to be missed.