What started with cheese ends with pink cava in Barcelona

Cava slinging bartender, Barcelona, Spain
Cava slinging bartender, Barcelona, Spain | Photo by Lauren Girardin

I won’t look up. I can’t look up. If I do I’ll get cava in my eye. Glass after glass of the rock-bottom cheap and disturbingly pink-hued bubbly is being passed over my head, handed from the bartender to one of the dozens of people crammed into this divine Barcelona dive bar.

For me and Todd, this place is a perfect find – fresh grilled meaty sandwiches, plates of oil cured cheese, a cheerful bartender, and a heavy-on-the-locals crowd. That we are here at all is thanks to Caldo, the man behind the bar at Lolo, one of our favorite Mission District restaurants back in San Francisco.

Before Todd and I started our round-the-world trip, Caldo gave us a few strange travel suggestions for Barcelona. It was a conversation that started over a mutual enthusiasm for cheese.

One of his suggestions wasn’t easy to find, and well, we’re not certain we even found it.

On top of Gaudi's La Pedrera, Barcelona, Spain
On top of Gaudi’s La Pedrera | Photo by Lauren Girardin

Caldo told us to look for a bar called La Champañeria “near the post office.” After wandering the general area failed, we searched online and found La Champañeria’s exact address, Reina Christina #7, a street too small to make it onto our city map.

We would have missed the unmarked, small doorway if not for the warm light, savory smells, and tipsy people spilling out the door on an otherwise closed-up stretch of shops.

Over a couple of glasses of cava – costing an unbelievably low 0.65 Euros each – we toast to Caldo and to strange travel suggestions. Only then do we notice an unfamiliar name on a sign above the bar.

This place isn’t called La Champañeria – it’s called “Can Paixano.”

Hmm…it fits the description, we’re on the right street, and there wasn’t anything else nearby. Maybe it’s the same place, but they changed their name. Maybe we’re somewhere entirely different.

So, we order another round of cava and raise our glasses again, this time to toast the unknown.