Younger siblings get unfairly compared to their older brothers and sisters. They’re never as tall, or smart, or as good at important things, like multiplication tables or diving for pennies in the backyard pool. When you’re the youngest in the family, it’s hard to break free from expectations, and you get that same sense when you eat at Bar Mercado.
This tapas restaurant at Krog Street Market comes from the same people as Cooks and Soldiers and The Iberian Pig, two very good and very successful Spanish restaurants. The newest member of the family isn’t necessarily not those things, but just like everyone’s younger sibling, Bar Mercado is a little more carefree and relaxed than the other restaurants. And because of that, you’ll probably end up coming here for different, and more casual, reasons.
Unlike the other two spots, which are the kind of places you go for a big date or a client dinner that you can expense, Bar Mercado is somewhere you go after work to meet a few friends for drinks. The cocktails are great and you can get a few tapas, like the stuffed peppers or empanadas, without spending a ton. And afterwards, you’ll head somewhere else without giving it a second thought. You may also come here for Sunday brunch and, after you’ve eaten some huevos Benedict, you can spend the afternoon drinking sangria on the patio. Either time is fine and both are fun, but that’s really all you should hope for when you come here: a few good drinks, some solid small plates, and a place that’s fine with being outshone by its more accomplished older siblings.
The whole roasted carrots and green onion are topped with a honey glaze and romesco. This is one of the few tapas plates without any meat or cheese, and it’s also one of the best.
Fried potatoes topped with saffron aioli and housemade bravas sauce. If you just need a snack to go with a few drinks, this is a good option.
Peppers stuffed with goat cheese are never a bad thing, and these are no exception.
These empanadas are filled with pork cheek and golden raisins. When you’re the one hungry person in your group, order a plate of these for yourself.
Head-on shrimp, served with a garlic sherry sauce and crispy pieces of baguette. This is the dish you’ll want to make at home afterwards, but you’ll probably just come back next week for it instead.