It takes a special place to get me to sidle up to the other patrons, elbows out, all in the name of a good meal. But there are few places as special as La Bombilla.
My first visit to La Bombilla coincided with my first trip to Galicia. Javi picked us up from the airport, loaded our bags into his car and asked in his sing-song galego accent, ¿Comemos? He and I were going to get along.
Packing into a small bar straight out of decades past, Javi held up four fingers and long tubes of Estrella Galicia were pressed into our hands. After months of Cruzcampo, the foamy bust of the beer went down as smooth as the tall drink of water behind the bar. And he had a twin.
The place is legendary – everyone who visits the Crystal City seems to have passed through its doors, sampled their gigantic tapas and returned for more. I’ve sat on the steps outside countless times, laughing at the concept of a place where the dining hall was almost always full, and patrons spill onto the street.
Four years after my first visit, I’m still craving La Bombilla’s milanesa, a Galician treat made with a fried pork loin and stacked high with a fried red pepper and potatoes. The menu is simple – you can choose the milanesa, a potato omelette, a gargantuan croquette, tuna empanadilla or a bocadillo sandwich – and each tapa comes with a fist-sized slice of spongy bread, held together with a toothpick.
Just last night, we packed into the bar along with the Coruñenses. Our bounty was loaded high onto a plastic plate, and T grabbed napkins from a yellow Cola Cao canister that had been cut and napkins inserted.
“Tio, como se nota la crisis, con la Bombilla asi de gente…” said a dark-haired man, a telltale sign of a native Galician. The crisis is evident, just look at the number of the people in La Bombilla. This could go both ways – either the one euro tapas were giving people a reason to treat themselves to dining out, or even the restaurant was hurting in the wake of a financial meltdown.
Either way, I kept happily at my milanesa, lucky enough to afford such a luxury.
Rua de la Galera at the cross of Toreiro. Open for lunch and dinner daily, but el que madruga, Dios le ayude to grab a place at the long, wooden bar.