Cheaper Than a Ticket to Spain

That Time We Gladly Froze to Death at Barcelona Wine Bar in D.C. by Lydia Youngman

“I refuse to be that guy over there,” my friend says. We’re at an outdoor table at Barcelona Wine Bar in Adams Morgan in D.C. The man she’s referring to is seated a few tables over, bundled up in a blanket like an Eskimo.

Barcelona is a Spanish-style restaurant, serving mostly paella, tapas, and Spanish wines. Each tapa is between four and twelve dollars. Between the three of us, we ordered a wide selection of food: beet salad, croquetas, pork belly a la plancha, hanger steak, and jamón serrano with drunken goat cheese. For dessert we ordered churros con chocolate and crepes.

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Croquetas are some of my favorite Spanish food. They’re a fried mash of ingredients—usually ham and bechamel or potatoes. The croquetas at Barcelona were rounder, crispier, and covered in unfamilar spices. Barcelona also put their own spin on churros, rolling them in a mix of cinnamon and sugar. In Spain, you can dip your churros in sugar but they don’t ususally come that way.

The only thing I wouldn’t order again was the hanger steak—not that it wasn’t good, but it was pretty small and probably not worth the price. The grilled pork belly, on the other hand, seemed much more exotic, served with fried quail eggs on top. (For those wondering, fried quail eggs are exactly like fried regular eggs, except smaller and more expensive.)

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We also ordered white Sangria and a glass of red wine—both excellent if you like sweet drinks. If you go to Barcelona, the sangria becomes a really good deal at $26.50 a pitcher.

I lived in Madrid for a few months last year so I feel confident when I say that Barcelona is the most authentic Spanish food I’ve had in Maryland. The portions are small—tapas always are—but servers continuously refill the bread basket and it’s not hard to walk away from the table feeling full.

For all its warm atmosphere and claims of authenticity, Barcelona is definitely not on a Spanish beach. It was a chilly night in April, as evidenced by the giant heat lamps sprinkled around the patio. We asked our waiter if he could turn one of the lamps on for us.

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That was our first mistake. What followed was a night of shuffling around as we continuously asked for the heat lamps to be brought closer when we got cold and then pushed farther away when our faces turned red from warmth and alcohol.

We had inadvertently become even more embarrassing than the Blanket Man.

Thankfully, the waiters at Barcelona are the ultra-professional type—super friendly, efficient, apologetic at a moment’s notice. They’re the kinds of servers you would expect to find in a four star hotel, and they shuffled the heavy heat lamps around throughout the dinner sans complaints.

Barcelona on 14th Street lists their hours on their website. Make a reservation at least a week in advance!


Lydia Youngman is a writer from Albany, New York. The facts: Irish dancer. Loves working with little kids. Terrible with directions. Fears spiders like Ron Weasley, unless someone else in the room is fears spiders more, then yes, fine she will kill the spider.

Photos courtesy of Barcelona Wine Bar.

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