GREGBIRMAN
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THE WATCHER

The Watcher is a blog by Greg Birman and Nika Levando, detailing their whereabouts, outtakes, and intakes in Chicago and beyond.

Cal Pep

Barcelona is a gourmand's dream come true. From the rich paella to the homemade vermouth and the buttery Iberian ham, Barca is a no-brainer for any food enthusiast. On our final night in town, we had only one mission: get a seat at Cal Pep. 

The venue is tiny and extremely popular among locals and tourists alike. It's made up of two small sections: a bar in the front of the shop, and a dining room in the back. Because the bar is the exact epitome of the whole experience, there was no negotiating our preference. Therefore, to make sure we get a seat, we did exactly what you should do when you travel to Barcelona - get in line way before it opens. 

Siesta is very much still a thing in Spain, especially for long standing restaurants such as Cal Pep. They close at 3pm and reopen at 7:30pm, giving us plenty of time to find a nearby cafe, with a direct view of our destination. We sat in the nearby plaza around 6pm, watched people pass, drank Aperol Spritz, picked at olives, and shared a cigar just before the line started to form in front of Cal Pep at 7pm. The first people in line were two seasoned local gentlemen, who knew exactly how it works. At this point we immediately joined, not long before the line stretched for over a block. 

Finally, the doors swung open and the cheerful crowd poured in. We sat right at the center of the bar, and those who were not able to find a spot, stood behind us in the narrow passage, waiting patiently with a draft beer in hand. The service model was unlike any I've ever experienced; as long as you're seated, the chefs continue to pass traditional Mediterranean tapas to the guests. There was no form of menu, whatsoever. And the food? Also, unlike anything I've ever tasted, corresponding in harmony with the incomparable atmosphere. In the blur of two hours, we had five courses, desert, and four glasses of wine for only 90 euro. 

Let the photos cover what was left untold, and be sure to check out the rest of the photos from our trip in the "Barcelona" gallery. 

CAL PEP RESTAURANT
Plaça de les olles, 8
08003 Barcelona