If we lived in Death Valley, Dubai, or just about any other place where heat above 85 degrees didn’t require an emergency alert, Barcino would be an ideal restaurant. That’s because we can imagine wanting to come here if it was too hot to actually eat a real meal. While the tapas are good, we have yet to walk away from a dinner here satisfied.
The dishes at Barcino are slightly unconventional takes on Spanish classics. They’re drizzled with sauces and very nice to look at, and besides that, pretty tasty in general. But while we understand tapas are meant to be small, these are especially tiny - and they’re priced like they’re much bigger. The patatas bravas (a fancy take on the traditional fried potatoes), for example, come in orders of only four. The charred octopus is maybe OK to share with a friend or two, as long as those friends don’t eat seafood (although they could just eat the broccoli that comes with it, which is the best part of the dish). And there’s a tomato salad involving a handful of cherry tomatoes sliced in half. At Bellota, another Spanish restaurant from the same owner, the dishes are heartier and more appropriate for a full-on meal. But Barcino’s menu is really best for extremely expensive snacking.
That being said, it’s a pleasant place to spend some time. If you work in Mid-Market, this could easily become a go-to for team drinks and snacks post-work, provided that the eventual plan was to head somewhere else for dinner. Wooden beams and hanging plants give it a bit of a garden feel, and it has high ceilings and big windows that let in lots of light. Also, they make some excellent cocktails, particularly the gin and tonics poured tableside and served with a little side bottle of tonic. (You may not think of yourself as a G&T person, but if any version of the drink can convert you, it’s this.)
If you’re looking for a real meal, though, Barcino is not the place. Come for the excellent drinks and tasty-but-tiny tapas before seeing a symphony, SF Jazz performance, or show at Bill Graham (just plan on buying multiple boxes of Sno-Caps at the theater) - or wait until the next three-day heat wave.
One of the better versions of pan con tomate we’ve had. The bread is light and heavily toasted, and the tomato, garlic, and olive oil are simple and come together very well. Yes, we are describing almost all pan con tomate, but still, this stuff is good.
Watermelon and tomato with cucumber and a tahini-ish sauce make a pretty and relatively refreshing salad. Good for a few bites to share.
These aren’t your typical patatas bravas. They’re more like fanciful tater tots with whipped potatoes inside and a crispy outside - very light, and topped with an awesome aioli. Taste-wise, we’re all in, but the portions aren’t big enough. You’ll probably only get to eat one (the dish comes with four), but you’ll want an entire plate.
Underwhelming. This is a very petite portion of octopus with mashed potatoes (a combination that seems weird), tomatoes, and broccoli. When the few pieces of broccoli are the highlight of the plate, it’s generally a bad sign.
The meatballs are fine and the sauce is good, but the noodles feel a little out of place. Worth getting if you’re trying to fill up on protein. Otherwise, skip.
Since the tapas end up being less than satisfying, we tend to want dessert here. The churro-marshmallow-chocolate combination is creative without being too cutesy, so these are always the right choice.