Pincho Moruno at Bar La Parrilla, Salamanca
Wanting to get away from the tourist district near the Plaza Mayor, we headed up to calle Van Dyck, an easy bus ride then a somewhat hilly block or two walk away. We started at La Parrilla, which specializes in grilled meats. It was packed. A decidedly good sign. But there was room for two to squeeze in at the bar. The clientele that night seemed to be mostly students, a lot of them foreigners doing a semester abroad. We ordered some house wine and one order of pincho moruno. The bartender, a dead ringer for Nicholas Cage, looked at us like we were nuts. We had wanted to be careful to leave room for a variety of different tapas at different bars, but once we received our little plate of pincho moruno and took our first bite we understood that crazy look — and immediately ordered a second one. That earned us a much more approving nod.
This was heaven. Well, one of the heavens. (We experienced many food heavens on this trip.) Pincho moruno translates to "Moorish sticks" and is marinated kebabs, usually pork or lamb. La Parrilla's were tender, succulent pork, exploding with flavor. They serve the skewer on a small piece of bread and drizzle a thin, herbed sauce over it. Our mouths were watering even before our first bite. I want to know what they marinate that meat in, because it was simply amazing.
While waiting for our second one, we watched the grill cooks prepare and plate some monstrously large dishes piled high with freshly grilled meats, fried potatoes, and more of that sauce, which vanished into the back where there must be a backroom sitdown restaurant. The place was really too crowded to check. And we were very happy at the bar.
If you're on a budget in Spain, then one of the most important things to know about tapas bar crawling is the price structure. Eating at the bar is the cheapest. Sitting down at a table is a bit more expensive. And if the bar has outdoor seating, that will be the most expensive. We liked sitting (or standing) at the bar, so it all worked out for us.
We got our second plate and fought over the tender morsels while the bartender passed glasses of wine and beer over our heads back to the standing room only crowd. We finished up with a third plate, this time a lomo (pork) sandwich. (Don't ask us what it was called. We saw it go by, and told the bartender that we'd take one of those, too.) The lomo was quite delicious, but it paled a bit in comparison to the incomparable pincho moruno.
Bar La Parrilla
c/Van Dyck 55-57