Grabbing seafood for lunch in Barranco has not once ended in disappointment. We’re coastal, everything is fresh, every human has grown up knowing how to prepare seafood. The outcome is that I get to be insanely picky about who serves the best seafood my favorite way.
Barra Mar is teetering on a thin line between authentically charming and overtly hipster. They serve beer in weird tin cups. They’re using baskets as lamp shades, and their waiters wear cabbie hats. They also serve at least one dish inside an opened sardine can. But hey, it’s Barranco. You need a little quirk if you’re going to compete. At the same time too, Barra Mar is situated in a beautiful old building with stunning Spanish tile work and a white high beam ceiling. It’s cleverly designed and has a cute running theme (Barra Mar = Sea Bar).
The sardine can dish was actually a pretty clever version of pulpo de olivo. Perhaps best described as deconstructed (of course), the dish featured super tender octopus (which means the octopus was prepared well) and creamy purple olive sauce that could be applied as desired. It also included the most legit and adorable spork I’ve ever seen. Where Barra Mar really came alive for me, though, was its fried fish. Ivo and I both got a round of Leche de Tigre, one blanco and one amarillo. I’ll be honest: El Veridico del Fidel has ruined me in terms of leche de tigre. Theirs is so unforgivably fantastic that anyone else’s is just “pretty good” at best. Barra Mar’s leche de tigre hit the “pretty good” mark. But the crispy calamari and fried slice of white fish? Stellar. Crispy, crunchy, a little salty, just as thick as it should be. Naturally, the fried fish sandwich at the end put that breading to primo use: Ivo asked for a sweet sauce, which was drizzled over the pile of veggies stuffed on top.