Bar Raval Review: Be transported to the heart of Barcelona, Spain with this hidden gem and a must pit-stop.
Located on the bustling College St and surrounded by other local favorites. Bar Raval stands out amongst the crowd and is spectacular on its own right. It’s hands down one of the best places to eat if you’re traveling to Toronto.
It’s easy to miss as it’s disguised as any other nook and cranny but once you step foot inside, you’ll be blown away by the out of this world Gauldi-esque and Modernisme-like (Catalan Modernism) architectural design. The wooden tones, smooth textures, and organic shapes invokes the concept of nature vs. man-made.
Aesthetics aside, the food is really the heart of this organism. With its Spanish pintxos and tapas-style menu, you’ll want to make sure you bring a friend. No food lover should conquer the menu by themselves, and why should you? You’ll want to make sure you try as many of their dishes as possible.
Based on a few suggestions from our lovely server we ordered (Tip: Always ask your servers for their recommendations – they would have at least tasted the dish):
- Smoked Mackerel
- Tomato Bread
- Marinated Octopus
- Serrano Jamo
- Jamon Croquetas
The two dishes I would strongly recommend would be the Smoked Mackerel and Tomato Bread.
Smoked Mackerel: Preserved in extra virgin oil and served in a tin can. It’s a must and a favorite place to eat amongst the locals.
The oil itself is so good that I could have just drunk it right out of the can. You’ll want to make sure you order extra bread to soak up the oily goodness. It is why the mackerel just melts in your mouth like butter. With a slight hint of smokiness, it strikes the perfect balance between the buttery flavor, saltiness, and the extra virgin oil.
Tomato Bread: Inspired by the traditional le Pa Amb Tomaquet, it is one of my all-time favorites.
I must admit I’m slightly biased as I had fond memories when I was traveling through the region – that’s a story for another time.
Considered a staple in Catalan cuisine and symbol of their identity. If you ever meet a Catalan, you’ll understand how immensely proud they are of their own identity and culture. Like many great recipes, the dish was born out of necessity and availability of the produce at the time. According to a Catalan historian Nèstor Luján, the recipe was first conceived in the rural Spain where tomatoes were abundant. It was a way for people at that time to prolong the expiration by softening dry bread with the tomatoes.
This simple dish made up of toasted bread with tomato, olive oil, salt, and garlic is bursting with flavors. It’s not just the freshness of the ingredients that gives it its flavors but the way it is made. The secret, so I’m told, is that the garlic should first be rubbed on the bread before the tomato.
To top it all off, nothing’s more Spanish than washing it down the hatch with a glass of Estrella or white wine. It’s best during the warmer months as you truly feel like you’re in Barcelona, seated outside basking in the sun.
In summary between the symbiosis of the neo-gothic inspired architectural design and the richness of the food, is what makes Bar Raval one of the best places to eat in Toronto. You’ll want to make sure you add this Spanish gem to your itinerary next time you’re in town.
505 College St, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Visit their website to learn more
Thank you for reading my latest post. Planning a trip to Toronto? Make sure you first check out my latest post 24 hours in Toronto, Canada. Here you’ll find my top 3 recommendations on where to stay, eat and explore.