Near the entrance of the Boqueria, Juanito Bayen, sporting his signature bow tie, greets you with a big smile and thumbs up that this is THE place.
It is a tiny bar with a "L" shaped counter to sit at. Juanito and a few other family members are there to help you... cooking, pouring and serving all in this narrow space behind the bar. Many times you have to wait for someone to vacate one of the 14 or so bar stools to get a place at the counter.The first order of business is to order a Chucho, Xuixo in Catalan, along with a cafe con leche. The Chucho is an irresistible deep fried pastry filled with a creamy farmers cheese. They get only so many in, so first come, first served. "Hands off, get your own!"
All the ingredients are fresh, right from the vendors around the corner. The spinach and pine nut omelet is a breakfast staple served with the pa amb tomaquet (dense country bread, toasted and rubbed with a vine-ripped tomato and a garlic clove, then drizzled with an excellent olive oil). And of course, order a glass or two of Cava, just like the locals.
I have had the Garbanos con Chipirones (chickpeas with baby squid) at quite a few places around Barcelona and Pinotxo's hands down makes the best! Once plated, it is drizzled with a Balsamic vinegar that had been reduced to a syrupy consistency. Unbelievable flavors and so fresh.
Other dishes worth noting is the fried cod with its crispy crust drizzled with olive oil laced with slices of sauteed garlic. Or the chickpeas with the white Catalan pork sausage (garbanzos con butifarra).
There is a book store out on La Rambla that sells his cookbook that has numerous recipes in it along with his family history, Pinocho: La Vida y La Cocina en la Boqueria de Barcelona. Juanita was very nice to write a note in mine for me.
Pinotxo Bar is a must! You can not go to Barcelona, more less the Boqueria, without eating here. With the ambiance of the market, the friendly service and the unbelievable food, it is an incredible experience and worth the wait. Buon Provecho.
Mercat de La Boqueria