When it comes to Spanish tapas in the Triangle, Durham had the market cornered with the ever-popular Mateo and Taberna Tapas! As a Raleighite, I had tapas on my short list of desired restaurants and thankfully, Barcelona Wine Bar has come to the rescue! Part of the Del Frisco restaurant group (bartaco), Barcelona Wine Bar has about 17 locations on the eastern seaboard and Colorado. Barcelona Wine Bar’s prime location in the Dillon building is its second location in North Carolina, woo-hoo! And after several dinner visits, color me impressed. Here’s why you should be considering a visit to this hot, new NC Triangle restaurant located at the new Dillon Building!
Located in a premium corner spot at West and Martin Street, the Barcelona is one of the new fun and hip eateries that continue to be opened up at the Dillon. A lovely patio area with greenery fronts the restaurant and you’ll usually find an energetic crowd milling about. Step through the narrow doorway and you’ll run into the centerpiece tapas bar in front (U-shaped) which is usually very busy. Overhead you’ll spy hollowed out, wood tubes and to the sides, rectangular “wood cinder blocks” which provides some separation between the bar and the kitchen or side dining room. Interior design at Barcelona wine bar is very organic and rustic, it feels a bit weathered even though it’s a brand new space!
I’ve eaten four times here, usually at the bar and once on the patio. The large tapas menu offers up an array of charcuterie (3 choices for $17.50), salads, small plates, Chef’s items along with some desserts that are not on the main menu. Barcelona Wine Bar also offers up a handful of entree type dishes in the $20+ range (including paella) but where’s the fun in that? There is plenty to choose from for meat eaters or vegetarians but I’ll give a slight advantage to Team Meat at Barcelona Wine Bar! The wine list is pretty extensive and focused on European wine with glasses mostly $10 and up. I’d expect to spend $30 and up for a meal with one drink so it’s a mid-priced type of meal for Raleigh.
For starters, the Spanish tortilla (omelet) is stellar! Tender, thin-sliced potatoes are layered with egg and olive oil to present a luscious take on a very simple dish and it is executed perfectly here at Barcelona. Don’t miss the croquetas de jamon which are delicately fried balls of deliciousness. The crunchy exterior breaks open to a soft and cheesy interior accentuated with salty ham, wonderful stuff. And yes, you must try the albondigas, meatballs made with a bit of lamb in a chunky tomato sauce. The albondigas are bites of savory meatiness and filling for a small dish. I usually skip the the complimentary bread basket but some of that country bread sopped in the tomato sauce from the albondigas would be heavenly.
Now while officially Barcelona is all about small plates, I consider some of the higher priced chef’s specials to be more entree like given the meat-heaviness of the dishes here. I had a fantastic NY Strip paired with red chimichurri which was wonderful. Thinly sliced, perfectly cooked (medium) medallions of beef sporting that luscious fat on the edge topped with the flavorful chimichurri sauce makes for a taste sensation. Paired with the plump, charred sugar snap peas, you’d have a perfect meal with both the savory beef and crunchy greens to balance your plate!
And after all these small plates, make sure you save room for dessert. It’s a small menu but loved Barcelona’s crepes salguero (crepes with dulce de leche cream, hazelnuts) and their chocolate flourless cake. So small and decadent, the cake is filled with creamy chocolate ganache! A glass of port would probably be the happy ending to a wonderful meal here at Barcelona.
While Barcelona is still evolving as a new restaurant, they do a good job training and preparing their staff. Just beware that the bar can be pretty energetic and boisterous (LOUD), if you’re up for a quieter meal you’re better off in the dining room or patio. But wherever you sit at Barcelona Wine Bar, your taste buds are in for a treat. The chef (Jose Ochoa) back in the kitchen has got some serious talent and knows how to take these simple dishes to another level which is to me, a perfect reason to celebrate the arrival of Barcelona Wine Bar and its Spanish tapas in the Oak City. We were way overdue for tapas and Barcelona Wine Bar was definitely worth the wait!
430 W. Martin Street, Dillon Building