La Barraca

The posing bull, the spotlights — I would have missed it all if not for the flamenco sneaking out through a crack in the door. It probably happens a lot, since La Barraca is best-known for its tapas, paella, and other Spanish cuisine favorites. What it's not known for is being a weekend social club where cool, Spanish-speaking hipsters hang out late into the night. Inside, you'll actually get a sense of being outside a villa in the night of the Spanish countryside — the ceiling has been filled and blacked out, and in the dim light, all that's missing is the twinkle of the Iberian stars. The plaster gateway behind the hostess is stained and faded the way you'd imagine the entrance to a rural village would be, and the bar is rustic and poses as an open-air casa tejada. At the bar, you'll find homemade sangria made from a secret recipe, a full bar, a few foreign beers (no draft), a long list of wines, and specialty martinis. The wine cellar is in plain view in the back. The bar area separates the lively main room from the quieter, more private booths. The main room is loud and delivers all the excited spontaneity of a town plaza celebration. Its close-quarters seating adds a friskiness to the stadium-like setting. It's a mature crowd at La Barraca, but no crowd is ever too mature to hoot and holler to flamenco and rumba Catalana — and these are folks who grew up on Lole y Manuel and Camaron de la Isla. Catch the live flamenco and winetasting on Thursdays. There's a DJ and live flamenco shows on Fridays. And on Saturdays, live flamenco, late-night rumba with a DJ, and free champagne (and lots of dancing).

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