For about seven years now, I have treated myself to a few lunches at Kiosko Universal. Back then, it was full of people who worked at the market who knew that the time that you spent waiting was well worth it. But, as Barcelona’s tourist boom hasn’t stopped, it is now filled with hungry tourists who visit the market and have been tipped off by someone that knows this is THE place to get a quick bite of some extra fresh grilled fish.
There’s nothing fancy, no molecular cuisine, no Michelin stars, just plain old great grilled seafood. The restaurant is on the left side of the market, at the entrance. A very large bar and some 7 tall tables make up the seating area. You have to give your name at the bar, and the number in your party. Then some 15 minutes later, your name will be called and you will be seated.
Around the bar is the best place to sit, because you can see all the fresh fish that you can just point to and they will grill it for you, with just a touch of parsley and garlic oil. Always cooked to perfection, it comes with some very homey french fries, like the ones your mother used to make, kind of soggy, but always good. The menu is large, but simple. Starters are mainly mixed grilled veggies, mixed grilled wild mushrooms, some Pimientos del Padron, or a salad. Then you have your 10 different types of fish, from Swordfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Sole, Sea Bream, Hake…..the list goes on. There is beef also for those of you who don’t like fish. Then, there’s also the selection of grilled squid, razor clams, mussels, clams, cockles, shrimp, scampi…..it doesn’t get better than this!
Yesterday I met up with a couple of my girlfriends, and we ordered our mixed wild mushrooms, since they are in season now.
Then, I decided to try something different from my usual, yesterday they had a special, it was a Cuttlefish and Pea stew, in a gorgeous tomato sauce.
I loved it. You definitely tasted the mild brininess of the cuttlefish, but the sauce was meant for sopping up with some fresh, crusty bread. I would never have thought to make a dish like this, so it was a real treat for me. And since the weather is cooling down a bit, every bite kept me nice and warm.
The girls shared a mixed seafood platter. This is the house specialty.
The great part is that you don’t pay a hefty price either. You can eat there for 25 euros, including wine, and your tummy will thank you profusely. I always recommend it to out-of-town guests, because it’s great to eat in the hustle and bustle of the market, and you know the fish is fresh…..brought to you from only a couple of stalls away!
So, next time you’re in Barcelona, and you make the pilgrimage to Boqueria, you must have a bite to eat at Kiosko Universal. You won’t regret it!
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