I walked by the restaurant Casa Mari i Rufo so many times over the years with friends, family and by myself since I live in the neighbourhood, but have never managed to have food there.
So the other week I went there on Thursday (because I thought to my self, enough is enough) made a reservation for Friday afternoon at 15.30 thought it would be more tranquil when lunch break is almost over, but oh no the kitchen was on fire and more clients waiting to get seated.
I had to wait a good 20 minutes to get seated but it was worth it. With a ice-cold beer in my hand I enjoyed the madness that was happening before my eyes.
Casa Mari i Rufo is more then a restaurant, it´s an institution that needs to be experienced. It´s a family owned joint that serves seasonal market cuisine, specialised in fish and seafood. It´s located next to the emblematic food market Santa Caterina in the Born.
From the street looks like an old school Spanish bar, a couple of high bar seats by the bar and three two seat tables with red and white table linen, you can see a whole in the wall at the far end, but you cant really see where it leads. So if you are more in to fancy interior design then the food it self, well you should keep on looking. But if your in for great meal and a local vibe, you´re at the right place.
Dad Rufo´s is charge of the grill behind the bar, Mari runs the service, their sons and wife’s work both kitchen and in the service. It can look hectic, unorganized and you can feel the Spanish temperament when they are disputing their differences, but I think it´s all part of the experience and charm.
Some important things to know before you head there! Always, but always make a reservation. Even though you have a reservation you probably have to wait for a couple of minutes in the door, that’s good though you can enjoy a beer at the door and if your lucky Rufo show´s of some fresh seafood catch that you need to try when you get to your table.
When I got seated and the waitress came over with a menu, I looked at it. Couldn´t decide at all. So when she came back I told her, I had no clue what to order. Lucky me, I got one of the small tables in the entrance so Rufo over heard us talking and asked what I liked, I told him; everything! I told him my budget (50€ not including the glass of wine or beer) and I left it all in his hands.
As I waited I got chatting with the man (now known as Antonio) at the table next door, he told me this is his Friday lunch place. Always. I got involved in Rufo´s and his diverse conversations about Barcelona and beyond which made my lunch even better.
First out Rufo prepared a mixed grill plate with razor clams, squid and octopus. The second plate also grilled seafood. On this plate there were monkfish, prawns, Norwegian lobster and crab. When the chef has the experience of how to choose, treat and prepare great quality products the out come is just amazing. The food at Casa Mari & Rufo simple and rich in flavour with out any type of decoration or fuss.
For dessert I got some nimbly Spanish cookies and chocolate, maybe not exactly up my alley, but on this occasion it was a great end to a superb lunch.
With the beer, glass and a half of wine I paid in total 55€.
Casa Mari & Rufo has mixed clientele, from shopkeepers, bankers, construction workers and tourists. Everybody wants to enjoy their local cuisine.
Casa Mari & Rufo´s opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday 13.15h -16.30h y 20.00 – 23.30h
Carrer de Freixures 11, 08003 Barcelona
+34 933 19 73 02