Visitors and locals alike all enjoy a cold beer and a tapas to munch on. Bite-sized, snacky and tasty, tapas are a perfect start to a night out. Girona has many bars that offer them, ranging in price and quality.
At the cheaper end of the scale even a bowl of green olives is accepted as a basic tapa. Nothing unusual there but hardly imaginative. Moving further up the scale or originality and ingredients usually means paying a touch more. The following are a selection of Girona bars and restaurants I’ve found to be constantly good. You can easily make a night of it and visit all of them, appetite withstanding.
Txalaka, C/ Bonastruc de Porta, 4
Basque cuisine, it offers a good range of tapas as well as a more traditional menu (la carta). Walk in to be faced with a long wide counter heaving with a tapas selection to suit all tastes. With most of these types of establishments, grab a plate and help yourself. Sit inside, but we prefer an outdoor table when the weather is good. Order a drink and keep going back for more. Leave the cocktail sticks on your plate so the waiter knows how much to charge you. Don’t ignore the dessert section if you have room. My verdict. Good quality and variety, nice desserts but a bit pricey.
Artusi, Placa de les Castanyes, 6
Another quality tapas bar and regular restaurant where you can also choose from a menu of Catalan dishes. Their tapas range is much smaller than Txalaka and it’s mostly standing room only. It does have a few bar stools and a couple of tables outside. As before, order a drink and choose your tapas. The rear dining area which also includes a small enclosed patio is more for those dining al la carte. My verdict. Better known for its more refined diners, tapas are a nice side hustle. Not a place to hang around for too long, keep moving.
Zanpanzar, C/de la Cort Reial, 10-12
Smack in the middle of the old town it’s not too hard to miss for the random strolling tourist. The short street its on has a few other places to test your tastebuds, Indian Taj, Catalan Llevataps or Mexican Maguey. Same as before, pick up a plate and take your pick. Stand by the bar or sit down. This place is what a tourist imagines a typical Spanish tapas bar looks like. A long counter full of plates of different bread-based tapas, rather let down by an uninteresting, boring interior. However, it does a brisk trade on weekends. Sadly, for me I fell foul of the weasel-looking, bonkers barman one night and haven’t returned since. Shame, as we used to pop in as a one-for-the-road type place. My verdict. Run of the mill tapas, inexpensive, just missing sawdust on its floors.
Vinitu, Placa Bell-Lloc, 4,local 2
An unashamed plug for this tiny Girona old town bar enthusiastically run by a young couple, Danny and Carla. No problem with English here too. Rather than individual tapas which aren’t really what’s on offer, I’d recommend their sharing boards or ‘fustas’ of local cheeses or cured meats and ham. If you fancy a mix of both ask for a 50/50, (not on the printed menu). One of my favourites is the newly introduced item ‘pollo rabiosa’, breaded chicken strips with a spicy sauce that Peruvian Danny developed. My verdict. A nice alternative to a typical tapas smorgasbord, friendly welcome and leave with a smile. Oh…you can also take your dog inside.
Can Vidal, Placa de Miquel de Palol, 1-2
Sometimes you find a back street place, frequented by locals and not on your typical tourist trail. This is such a place, local to me, that serves up a good range of Galician based tapas on Friday nights and Saturday lunchtimes only. It’s quite a hit with the Devesa residents. A small menu with a mix of seafood and meat based tapas like ‘cloises’ small clams, ‘pulpo’ octopus, and their patatas bravas are a must try. Get here for about 1.30 to 2pm as it fills up quickly with local families and groups. Closes about 4pm.
Wait at the bar if you have to and order a small plate of something. Genial and friendly host Vidal will come by your table after you finish eating to offer you a free shot of liquor. Not sure what to choose? go for a ‘poma’ apple liquor shot. No English menu or spoken English here, just point or use your Google translate to decipher the menu card. My verdict. Home-cooked food, served promptly but limited to weekends (Sundays-closed).