For people from the UK the idea of tapas can sometimes be of slight concern. All the food laid out under or on top of bar-top cabinets. Especially in the summer. It’s never been a problem for me. But I have heard it mentioned.
The same can be said for pincho bars. Bread, especially, doesn’t do well being out for very long. That’s why you have to find a pincho bar that is busy. And serves lots of pinchos that are hardly on the plate long enough for you to spy them and grab one. This is the case in the Maitea Taberna.
I am assured by my Catalan friend that this traditional Basque bar is the best pincho bar in Barcelona. The staff are friendly and attentive, the walls are full of evocative pictures from the Basque region and cluttered with articles of a bygone agricultural age. And the pinchos? Well, I have only been to a few pincho bars but these are the best I have ever tasted.
Pinchos (it means spike in Spanish) are generally slices of baguette type bread with different toppings. They are popular in Northern Spain and especially the Basque country (in Basque it is spelt pintxo). The ‘spike’ is a toothpick or similar skewer type thing that fixes the topping to the slice of bread, often to stop it falling off. The ‘pincho’ is also used as a measure of how much one has eaten. The pinchos are priced equally and therefore the toothpicks are counted up afterwards when the bill is being prepared. Obviously this relies on a certain degree of honesty. All very civilised in my opinion.
And when I say different toppings, we’re not talking about Marmite here. Or even Philadelphia. With or without chives! The range of pinchos on the Maitea Taberna menu is pretty extensive.
The pinchos I had included botifarra and caramelised onion, deep fried ham and cheese roll, a great take on a tortilla with white beans, little pastry cases with some sort of white fish pâté, soft and spicy chorizo, green pepper stuffed with black pudding then fried, melted brie with a sweet balsamic dressing, smoked salmon roll with cream cheese inside and caviar on top, goats cheese with apple compote, gorgonzola and walnut, chopped mushrooms with bechamel and melted gruyere, and both sobrassada and chistorra sausage.
And my absolute favourite? Mini egg and bacon. A soft piece of bread, a small rasher of surprisingly good Spanish bacon, and a perfectly fried quail’s egg on top. I seriously want to go back there and have 8 of them for breakfast one day. Simple, but utterly delicious. A little squirt of ketchup on each or a couple of baked beans and it would have been perfect! ;)
Please go and check it out. You will love it. Or let me know if you have any other pincho bars that you think should take the crown. I honestly can’t believe there is one out there though.
The Maitea Taberna is at c/ Casanova, 157. But don’t say to anyone in there it was me that sent you. I think they’d rather keep it to themselves.