Where‘s the omelette?
The best places for tortilla de patatas in Barcelona
An omelette is one of life’s simplest pleasures. Pay homage to the chefs behind these four iconic Spanish omelettes – as selected by Catalan cook and viral food videographer El Cocinero Fiel
You need the onion like you need love.
The story goes like this: it’s the 1930s and George Orwell is having an argument with a Stalinist. This apologist is going on and on, justifying the brutalities committed for the sake of a new workers’ paradise and Orwell is waiting for it. Finally, it comes. A complacent response:.“You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” To which George Orwell acidly replies: “Where’s the omelette?”
El Cocinero Fiel
In 2007 Txaber Allué uploaded the first ever tortilla de patata video-recipe to YouTube. It went viral.
The end doesn’t justify the means. Today there may not be Stalinists left in Barcelona but we do have revolutionary omelettes – and the undisputed queen is the tortilla de patata (omelette with potatoes).
Egg, potato, onion, salt and olive oil, that’s all you need. Then it gets tricky because there are a thousand ways to prepare and combine these apparently simple ingredients. Every now and then there is a heated debate about the onion. With or without it? But there should be no such debate. You need the onion like you need love.
Do you want to know where the omelette is? Discover this bunch of good places to fall in love with this magnificent dish while you enjoy the beauty of Barcelona.
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The coolest tortilla shop in the city
We serve around 37,000 tortillas a year, probably more than two million in our 50-year history.Iván Pomés, Flash Flash co-owner
This is about the tortilla de patata, but it’s also about you getting to know Barcelona. Let’s start with a place that is as famous for its tortilla as its architecture and design – Flash Flash.
In the effervescent Barcelona of the 1960s, four good friends – architect Alfonso Milá, photographer Leopoldo Pomés and their respective wives, Cecilia Santo Domingo and Karin Leiz – decided to open a tortilla restaurant. Milá was in charge of the interior design with architect Federico Correa. Meanwhile, Pomés created the iconic images filling the walls with images of a reporter with a camera and flash. This was none other than Leiz. And so it was inaugurated, on 3 July 1970, the coolest tortilla shop in the city, still open today, run by the founders’ families.
There has been a “no reservations” policy since the day Flash Flash opened. It’s kind of a classy place, so it’s good they don’t have give anybody special treatment. The first who enters is the first who sits. Once you’re there, I recommend you go beyond the classics. There is plenty to choose from: with asparagus, chorizo, acorn-fed Iberian ham or sausage, among other wonders that will make you salivate. You’ll need a bib.
In most places, tortillas are made in advance. They’re big and round, eight-inches wide and 1.5 high, with approximately a kilo of potatoes and around eight eggs, served in portions, four or five triangles of happiness. But that’s not the case in Flash Flash, where they are all made fresh, so you can enjoy it while it’s still hot and juicy. That also gives you the possibility to customise it a little. Maybe you’ve weirdly decided you want no onion.
Remember to look up now and then, because you don’t want to miss where you are. Nothing has changed for over 50 years and, in a business so dynamic, that’s extraordinary.
Flash Flash Tortilleria
Granada del Penedès, 25, 08006 Barcelona
Monday to sunday 13:00–17:00, 20:00–0:30
An instant classic
It’s an open secret, we add some egg yolks to the mix to get the extra creaminess that we like.Chef Alberto Soriano
Imagine life has been good to you: you have some savings and like where you live. It’s the first floor, and downstairs there is a good spot for a bar, but it can get noisy, very noisy. What would you do? You could sell your home and go live in the countryside or, maybe, just maybe, you buy the spot and do wonders with it. That’s the story with Miquel Puchol. Seven years ago, he was offered the possibility to do something with the spot below his in-laws’ apartment. He knew nothing about business but a lot about what he likes: good food. There is a premise though, they don’t want any noise down there, especially at night. And that’s why he decided to specialise in offering a good breakfast – a beautiful golden brown tortilla de patatas.
Now, imagine you get a window of opportunity in your day and through that window you fancy eating something beautiful things made with eggs. Well, you better get up early, because depending on the day, around noon Mantequerías Pirenaicas are out of tortillas. Why wouldn’t they make an infinite amount of these triangles of love? Let’s hear it from Miquel: “We cook all the tortillas early in the morning because we need the kitchen for the restaurant menu, so it’s not negotiable”.
Just be there before noon, maybe after a walk through the Galvany Market. If you feel unorthodox, and you should, go for a tapa of tortilla de patata with chorizo. It’s big, it’s kind of reddish, it’s slightly hot, it’s ugly, but it is good, very good. If you prefer a fancy one, go for the one with truffles. It’s not as authentic but still a good choice, always served with pa amb tomàquet – bread rubbed with small and matured tomatoes, with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt that gives this Spanish dish a Catalan touch.
Muntaner, 460, 08006 Barcelona
Monday to friday 07:00-17:00
A shortcut to Basque food culture
We’ve changed many things on the menu, but the tortilla de patatas has been here since day one, back in 1998.Nico Montaner
Tortilla de patatas, patatas bravas and ensaladilla rusa are the three potato dishes that you will find in every tapas bar worth that name. For the bravas, the potatoes are cut into bite-size chunks and deep fried in oil, then topped with two sauces, allioli and a hot red pepper sauce. The ensaladilla is a boiled potato salad with lots of mayonnaise, that’s the common ground, then you’ll find differences in every bar. And finally, the holy of the holies, our now well known tortilla de patata. You will find these three bites of awesomeness and much more at Maitea Taberna, a shortcut to the Basque Country at a walking distance from your hotel. While you are at it, stop by the Ninot Market. Markets are always an interesting way to learn more about the city you’re in.
With Maitea, Nico and Andrés Montaner have inherited something more than a restaurant. It was Maite, their mother who taught them to love gastronomy. Born in San Sebastián, the capital of Gipuzkoa, she moved to Barcelona when young… and was still in the kitchen not too long ago pampering meats and vegetables with the unique Basque touch that these brothers follow with their own Catalan twist.
Gipuzkoa has more Michelin starred restaurants than any other region in Spain, but that’s not all, the food culture goes beyond, they produce it with care, cook it with love and eat it like it is something religious.
As Nico puts it: “We don’t follow trends, it would be absurd to put a ceviche on a slice of bread, but we are flexible. We prepare the pintxos fresh, so we can make one with ensaladilla and the bread doesn’t get soggy.”
Similar to tapas but smaller, pintxos are usually served on a small slice of bread and have a toothpick piercing them through the middle, hence the name, from the verb pinchar that means to “poke” or “stab”. Bars full of pintxos prepares on demand are fresher and the bread is always crunchy, much better. Maite usually make four tortillas a day, with ten eggs, 200 grams of potatoes and 200 grams of caramelised onion, cut into twelve pieces and, when you order, they serve it on a slice of bread. As you can see, every tortilla de patata is different.
One of my favourite things about good food is that it doesn’t let you go, it’s like a bondage whip, you can not escape the moment. When you are filled with memories of the past and fears and hopes for the future you can easily lose sight of the present. Just a bite of Maitea’s pintxo de tortilla keeps you right there, enjoying life, sharing an intimate moment between you and your meal.
Casanova, 155, 08036 Barcelona
Monday to saturday 13:00–16:30, 20:00–23:30
A local place for the curious
We like it juicy, but not bloody.Lara Zaballa, Norte chef and owner
You should know that the wonder of wonders that is the tortilla de patatas is not a typical Catalan dish. We love it like we love our esqueixada (cod salad), our escalivada (roasted eggplants and peppers) or our capipota (stew made with cheap cuts of beef), also perfect companions to share with friends and a beer. But we know that the best tortillas in the world are made up north and that’s why we like Norte Restaurant.
Lara Zaballa and María González became friends working in the business, one as a cook, the other as a hostess, and eleven years ago they partnered up to open a place they could call home. Being both from up north, one from Galicia, the other from Bilbao, there was going to be tortilla de patatas for breakfast, no question about it.
You should also know that, usually, we don’t have it for breakfast. Up north, a slice and a coffee latte is common early in the morning on a weekday. That sounds weird in Barcelona. Don’t get me wrong, we have our own little peccadillos (small faults), not going into details, but you should try our esmorzar de forquilla (literally “fork breakfast”). But given the opportunity to enjoy a succulent tortilla like the one in Norte, go for it.
Surprisingly, with no onion. I got to say, it stood up.
“If you like it with onion, you can eat it without, but if you like it without, and it has onion, you just wont eat it,” Maria says nonchalantly. It’s so good that I can let that slide. Whatever gets you across the river, we are waiting at the other side with gluttony.
Being in Barcelona, you are going to visit Gaudi’s Casa Batlló, you should anyway, just from the outside, if you will. It’s less than ten minutes walking distance to Norte, which opens for breakfast and lunch, Monday to Friday, so here is your chance. Like Mantequerías Pirenaicas, they also run out of tortillas around noon. You can often see a biker stopping at a red light yelling, “Are there any left?“
“If there’s not, they keep going, like we don’t have plenty of good stuff,“ says Maria.
Anyway, in a world of big chains, ghost kitchens and delivery craziness, walk for a few blocks, get your ass to Norte Restaurant and enjoy the authenticity of a succulent slice of tortilla with its perfect match, pa amb tomàquet, for breakfast and wallow in the pleasure. Don’t be the tourist who goes to the other side of the world to have a mimosa and eggs benedict, please.
Diputació, 321, 08009 Barcelona
Monday to friday 8:00–16:00
Don’t forget the allioli
Talking about eggs, here’s a final recommendation: you should also enjoy a good dose of allioli. You know, the mayonnaise with a touch of fresh garlic, made with egg yolk, olive oil, salt and garlic, that you can find in all kinds of dishes. Go for…
– an ensaladilla at Bar Velodromo
– a bomba de la Barcelona at La Bombeta
– a slice of bread spread with aioli at La Cova Fumada
– patatas bravas at Bar Tomás
And just celebrate that you are alive.
Want more from Season 02 of TOPIA?
It’s inspired by The Egg – and a cracking good read
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What’s so good about this?
Getting to know a city through its food culture is an intellectual exercise that feeds body and soul. Barcelona is walkable, so with comfortable shoes and an empty stomach, you can hop from bar to bar to. learn its ways – by enjoying one of its egg icons, the tortilla de patatas.
Meet the writer
Back in 2007 Txaber Allué uploaded the first ever tortilla de patata video-recipe to YouTube. It went viral and changed everything. Since then, he has gone beyond recipes to share his enthusiasm for food and all its meanings wherever he has the chance to do so. Follow his food adventures on El Cocinero Fiel website, YouTube (nearly a quarter of a million followers), Twitter and Instagram.