Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Serving up excellent bay views and small plates of delicious tapas meant to be shared amongst guests, Barcelona Tapas is the ideal place for eating out with friends - and those are just some of the reasons that it was on my list of places to visit during Vallarta Restaurant Week 2011.
Since 2000, chef/owner Bill Carballo, from Chicago and trained in Spain, runs a place to share cold and hot tapas and larger plates. There's a lovely 4th floor terrace up a staircase with a firm iron railing that offers panoramic Bahía de Banderas and city views, or an interior 3rd floor dining room, also with grand vista.
What is splendid at Barcelona Tapas is that every seat has a panoramic view to accompany the fine food served in small tapas portions. The large top floor dining room is breezy from the Bahía air flow and constructed with large off-white classic columns sporting an open kitchen. Food servers stand at attention along the counter, quick to fulfill any needs.
Guests quickly ordered big pitchers of housemade red or white sangría floating with diced fresh fruit before ordering from the special Restaurant Week menu.
The three starter courses from the festival menu include:
Shrimp Bisque: Intensely rich from the shrimp shell stock, with heavy cream swirled in, making for a bold smooth soup.
Arugula Salad: Crisp arugula was tossed with blue cheese, cranberries and candied walnuts in balsamic vinaigrette. Delightfully crisp.
Cold Tuna Cannelloni: One long thick pasta tube was stuffed with puréed tuna, diced red onion, celery and crema Mexicana. Firm pieces of red ripe tomato with fresh basil shreds lay around the pasta with thin "sour cream" on top dripping into a pool.
A very fine selection of entrées are:
Saffron Rice: This was a lighter version of Seafood Paella. Shrimp, mussels and fish lay over firm saffron rice with sweet sautéed bell pepper strips.
Angus Beef Tenderloin: Large tender filet arrived over a wild mushroom sauce with asparagus, zucchini and grilled sweet red bell pepper. Intense in flavor.
Eggplant and Zucchini: Thick slices of zucchini and eggplant were layered with plenty of cheese and covered with a creamy homemade tomato sauce. The plate reminded one of a vegetable lasagna without the noodles. Rich, tasty with al dente vegetables, easily cut.
Desserts brought sighs of content and rapture:
Homemade Ice Cream: Various flavors are always available and this night featured a favorite: homemade rich and creamy Coconut-Pineapple. A breath of the tropics.
Crème Brûlée: Perfectly mastered, a beautiful custard with a thick crisp golden crust. This classic meal-ender was delicious.
Chocolate Profiteroles: One large cream puff pastry was filled with homemade vanilla ice cream, drizzled with a warm dark intense chocolate sauce. This dessert is difficult to locate locally well-prepared, but not here. This one shone brightly as a classic pleasing dessert.
Barcelona Tapas' regular menu offers among many options, including: Sizzling Spicy Shrimp Ajillo, Baked Goat Cheese, Layered Beets with goat cheese, Grilled Calamari, Bacon-wrapped Dates, Serrano Ham and la Mancha cheese, Gazpacho, Rosemary Chicken, Cumin Pork, Aioli Potato Salad, Marinated Mediterranean Olives, Mushrooms with Chorizo Saffron Cream, Curry Chicken Salad, Paella Valenciana or Mariscos and Tortilla Española (omelet torta with potato, onion and garlic.)
In 2010, Barcelona Tapas was once again voted "Best Tapas" (restaurant) in the Virtual Vallarta's Readers' Choice Awards. Come with a group of friends and share the many offerings on the tapas menu, highlighted by the fantastic views of Puerto Vallarta and the Bay of Banderas. It is a lot of fun and a great dining experience.
Open daily from 12 noon to 11:30 pm, Barcelona Tapas is located at Matamoros & 31 de Octubre in downtown Puerto Vallarta, México. For more information or reservations call (322) 223-0831 or visit BarcelonaTapas.net.
The author was supplied one choice in each of the 3 courses on the special Restaurant Week menu and this review is in no way connected to his independent restaurant guide, "Puerto Vallarta Restaurant Guide Beck's Best", where write-ups receive no compensation.
Restaurant Week continues through May 31st at some of the most recognized restaurants in Puerto Vallarta. For a list of participating restaurants and Restaurant Week 2011 reviews click HERE.