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Barlata

Currently Rated: 5 by 43

1500 S Lamar Blvd #150, Austin, TX

(512) 473-2211

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Ivan Collins Last updated on May 01, 2021 by


Barlata is the best Spanish restaurant in Austin and would probably give the old Malaga location on 2nd street a run for the title. I’ve always felt that Spanish cuisine is underrated in general. I’m a little biased as Spain is my favorite country in Europe, I lived in Malaga for 6 months studying Spanish in the early 2000s, and learned to cook a mean paella that has impressed friends at backyard cookouts and even some local Spaniards strolling the beaches of Malaga East where I’d break out my paella pan. Barlata brings an authentic experience reminiscent of the “modern” tapas bar of Spain’s hipper districts of Barcelona with stylish décor, traditional small plates menu, and a charismatic wine list.
 

Indoor Dining at Barlatta
The History of Barlata (and Tapas)
A quintessential mom and pop restaurant, owners Daniel Olivella and Vanessa Jerez had a history of running restaurants and cooking in the San Francisco area before relocating to Austin. Their website says Daniel credits his wife with the business skills and name Barlata, that translates charmingly as “can bar” in English. If you’re new to tapas, the word means lid in English and their widely debated history is they originated as a lid placed on top of a glass of wine to keep bugs from getting into it. You can
read more about the origin of tapas here. As for Barlata’s tapas, Daniel does most of the cooking, but the husband and wife team clearly work well together as Barlata delivers the best tapas in Austin. 

The Menu at Barlata

My wife and I dined here with our Spanish friends prior to the Covid closures and we recently returned to see how things were cooking up now that life is getting back to normal. Barlata features a wide variety of tapas with a short list of ~10 tapas frias (cold tapas), a longer list of ~ 20 tapas calientes (warm), and 5 different paellas. Most tapas are priced in the $10 - $15 range and the paellas come in two sizes with small paellas costing about $20 and large versions ranging from $25 - $29.  You can see our receipt in the gallery below for a few specifics.  


Our Experience

This visit we had a vegan in the crew that will nibble on proteins when challenged, but otherwise refrains from dishes that would typically be my first or second choice. So we ordered a few veggie apps in the Patatas Bravas and Brussel Sprouts that were all quite tasty, and seemed to make our vegan friend happy. We also added a Ceviche to the first round. Next, we enjoyed the Pulpo a la Plancha. I like ordering Octopus anytime I see it on the menu because its range is considerable and I think it's a great barometer of a chef’s effort and style. Plus it’s simply delicious, and it's not that easy to cook at home. Barlata's pulpo flavor was robust and authentic compared to those we’ve tried in Spain, albeit a little drier than some we've had elsewhere. It was laid on a bed of greens and pickled red onion which bulked it up visually and added a nice little crunch to every bite. We finished with Arroz Austin, a paella made with pork belly that included 3 ribs stacked stylishly on top. 

*Having mostly mastered the typical Paella Valenciana (seafood version) myself, I was a little surprised at the depth of rice as it was only a few centimeters deep and mine are usually twice that at least. The perfect paella comes with a crispy layer of rice on the bottom that is caramelized and packed with flavor known as the "socarrat." It dawned on me after the first bite that Daniel’s paella strategy was to deliver all socarrat. Genius! And delicious. Next time I break out the ol' paella pan, I’m planning to go light on the rice and see if I can attempt to match his magic. 


We wrapped up with a couple of desserts that were Spanish takes on cheesecake and chocolate cake and were fantastic finishing touches to a great meal.  We took photos of every item that you can see below in the gallery. Our final verdict: if you’re looking for an interesting and flavorful culinary night out in Austin, you can’t go wrong with Barlata and several rounds of Spanish tapas.

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