If you’re not a fluent Spanish speaker your first encounter with Argentinians and their breed of this latin language can be a challenging experience.  Tune into their swishes, swooshes and hard ‘j’s however, and you will get to know some charming people. More importantly though you will hopefully be introduced to their take on a good old ‘pasty’, the empanada, and to their favourite places for eating them. Namely Laurel.

El Laurel empanada bar, Barcelona

Conveniently located across the road from the Floridablanca cinema (one of several cinemas in Barcelona that show movies in their original version), this is the ideal place to grab a pre or post film snack or meal. Pasties, of whatever accent, can have me either drooling at the lips or turned off by the overly thick pastry. Laurel’s offerings are of the former and the rainbow of pastries naturally coloured by carrot, beetroot and spinach set the masticating juices flowing.

Empanadas at El Laurel empanada bar, Barcelona


The fifteen variteties listed on the menu, each as enticing sounding as the next, make choosing challenging, we started with a selection with a view to ordering more if we could “fit them in”… prizes for guessing whether that was achieved or not. Two ‘Marron’, a ‘Billie’ and a ‘Negrita’ were the aperitivos. ‘Marron’ being cocoa pastry filled with duck, pear, pine nuts, leek, pumpkin and ginger , ‘Billie’ delighted the mouth with Aragón sausage, pear, pine nuts and red onion. As for  ‘La Negrita’, she offered the hint of blackness that its name suggests with cuttlefish ink pastry and a filling of cuttlefish, mozzarella, tomato and basil. A much more captivating combination that it may first appear.

Plate of empanadas at El Laurel empanada bar, Barcelona
Two ‘Marrón’, ‘La Negrita’ and a ‘Billie’

The pastry here is not thick, stodgy or over filling, but rather a light envelope to encase the flavour punching fillings.

La Negrita empanada at El Laurel empanada bar, Barcelona
‘La Negrita’ filled with cuttlefish, tomato, mozzarella and basil in cuttlefish ink pastry
El Marron empanada at El Laurel empanada bar, Barcelona
‘El Marron’ filled with duck, pear, pine nuts, pumpkin and ginger.

The great thing, but also the problem with Laurel empanadas is that once you start you want to make your way through the whole menu. So for the ‘main course’ we managed an ‘Amarilla’, carrot pastry filled with plums, bacon, mozzarella and almonds and the crimped ‘Dino’ of diced veal, onion, sweet potato and chilli. Heavenly and enough to send me fleeing from a standard tuna empanada for the rest of my days.

Amarilla and Dino empanada at El Laurel empanada bar, Barcelona
‘Amarilla’ and ‘Dino’

If I’m honest at this point we were just being greedy but I can’t resist an alfajore, these ones had a subtle hint of lemon in the crumbly biscuit.

Alfajores and brigadeiros at El Laurel empanada bar, Barcelona
Alfajores and brigadeiros

Laurel doesn’t just restrict itself to these flaky pastry parcels as this wouldn’t be a taste of Argentina without a selection of meaty main courses and a tempting range of salads.

No meal with Argentinians would be complete without a mention of the good old Malvinas, the Falkland Islands to you and me, although we concentrated more on why we have such different names for this archipelago than on the 80’s war. In case your wondering…”The Falkland Islands took their English name from “Falkland Sound”, the channel between the two main islands, which was in turn named after Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount Falkland by Captain John Strong, who landed on the islands in 1690. The Spanish name, Islas Malvinas, is derived from the French name, Îles Malouines, named by Louis Antoine de Bougainville in 1764 after the first known settlers, mariners and fishermen from the Breton port of Saint-Malo in France” ..thanks to Wikipedia for that titbit.

El Laurel, C/Floridablanca 4o, Sant Antoni

**This article was originally posted on my former blog**