Occasion: Special romantic dates
Location: Pla de Palau, 2, 08003 Barcelona
Phone: +34 93 310 10 21
Reservations: Suggested, email email@example.com or call +34 93 310 10 21
Hours: Mon – Sat: 1:15 pm – 3:45 pm, 8:30 pm – 11:30 pm, Sun: closed
Prices: Very expensive (around €90 per person for dinner and drinks)
It’s easy to get lost trying to find Passadis del Pep. After entering a small opening from the street, customers must walk down a long dimly-lit corridor to reach the door. The inside of the restaurant is marked by arched ceilings and exposed stone walls, along with tables full of food and alcohol.
You may be confused by the fact that the restaurant lacks a menu because it’s unconventional, especially for North Americans. The restaurants website luckily dedicates a full page to explain this concept of having no menu. Rather than providing a menu for people to choose what they think looks best, the experts of the Passadis del Pep team does the work for them, serving only the best seafood caught that the day. I have had the privilege of dining here twice and both times I had unforgettable yet very different meals. The restaurant always begins by serving an on-the-house bottle of cava, pan con tomate, and a plate of deliciously thick acorn-fed Iberian ham. After those staples, the rest of the meal is up to what the sea bears that day. Come hungry – the waiters will continue to bring exquisite seafood dishes until you can no longer count how many dishes you had on your fingers. They will also offer to bring you your choice of an additional main course dish (such as a meat or fish) at the end of the food parade.
The first time I went to Passadis del Pep, I was with two of my friends before a night on the town. We told the waitor we didn’t want to eat too much or pay more than around €45. The waitor was very accomodating and let us decide on a few things from the freshest catches of the day, rather than serving us all of them. We chose to get the sea bass and shrimp, along with an extra plate of the mouth-watering Iberian ham. The waitor stayed true to his word with the bill and only charged us the price we had discussed earlier. I thought it was good to know that it’s possible to go to Passadis del Pep without spending a ton of money, but I definitely wouldn’t suggest dining like this here. I felt like I didn’t have the real Passadis del Pep experience and I was missing out on incredible dishes I didn’t even know about. I think if you’re going to go to Passadis del Pep, you should let the staff take you on the full culinary experience to be able to truly appreciate the restaurant.
Subsequently, for my second trip here, I came prepared to eat like a king and empty my pockets. I was excited to see what the restaurant was really like. I took my boyfriend here for Valentine’s Day dinner. He came to visit Barcelona for a week so I wanted him to have a great time and see how amazing this city is. Bringing him to Passadis del Pep was an easy decision because there’s no other restaurant I’ve been to that better shows the top quality seafood Barcelona has to offer. One of the things I like about the restaurant is that the tables aren’t too close together. Popular restaurants these days often cram their rooms with tons of tables and consequently make the customers feel like they’re eating with the neighbors beside them. Passadis del Pep, on the other hand, provides the perfect environment for romantic dinners as it feels cozy and intimidate yet spacious. Like the first time I went, my boyfriend and I were brought a bottle of cava, but this time it was smaller than the one I got when I came in a party of three. Since the cava bottle was small, we ordered ourselves another bottle of white wine for €20. After enjoying the Iberian ham and pan con tomate, my boyfriend and I were amazed to discover new types of seafood we had never tried before, such as miniature mussels. One of the dishes we didn’t know we would like but we did was the snails, or escargot – which were cooked with butter and presented beautifully on a bed of salt crystals. Our waiter continued to bring us out more and more food, including fried calamari, fried green peppers, and both small and large shrimp. My boyfriend thought the calamari was perfectly fried, explaining that it tasted so good ironically because it reminded him of McDonald’s fries. You might actually recognize the fried calamari and fried green peppers at Passadis del Pep because they are essentially the same as those at its sister restaurant Cal Pep. Near the end of our meal, the waiter served us an incredible dish of white rice with baby squid sautéed with garlic shavings. When the waiter asked us if we wanted more, we laughed. We told him we only still had room for dessert (I have quite the sweet tooth!). I got rooibos tea and our waiter served us creme brûlée and coffee flavored cake. At the end of the meal, the waiter brought us two shot glasses and three bottles of alcohol – limoncello, vodka, and a third which I’m unsure of (it was a dark red color if that helps). We have never had this happen to us before at a restaurant so we didn’t know if it was appropriate to take shots after a fancy meal. When we looked around the room however, every other table got the same three bottles and were drinking shots of them, so we began to feel comfortable doing the same. This could just be a cultural difference, but either way, we thought it was a great way to end the meal.
We left happily drunk and contently full, with an overall wonderful experience. It’s no wonder Passadis del Pep is a local favorite and Zagat rated its food as being a 27/30. My favorite dish of the night was the rice with baby squid – it was nothing like I have ever tried before and tasted simple yet fresh and tasty. The only thing my boyfriend didn’t like about the restaurant was that the seafood came in a form that involved work to eat. For example, the shrimp came with the shells on so we had to take them off ourselves. He prefers the ease of eating seafood in the form of sushi, for instance, where all he has to do is pop it in his mouth. Nevertheless, I think the best seafood must be served in the way Passadis del Pep does; if everything was peeled and presented ready to eat, I don’t think it would have had the same magic to it.