Review/Comparison of 100 Montaditos: Arlington, VA

Cerveceria 100 Montaditos: Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona

Cerveceria 100 Montaditos: Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona


One of my favorite places to grab a quick bite, during my time in Barcelona, was Cerveceria 100 Montaditos: a chain of small taverns specializing in miniature baguette sandwiches and cheap drinks.  I just recently moved to the DC area and when I discovered that one of these restaurants existed a mere metro ride away, in Arlington, VA, I had to check it out.


100 Montaditos, Arlington, Virginia

100 Montaditos, Arlington, Virginia

There it was in all its glory. I’ll admit that I felt pretty nostalgic when I finally found 100 Montaditos in Arlington. Memories of watching the Barça games while ordering strange sandwiches and 2 Euro drinks with new friends all came back to me. The Arlington location looked a bit more modern from the outside than what I was used to in Barcelona and even the location I had visited in Madrid, but a sign advertised a 4:00 happy hour. I was right on time!


100 Montaditos, Arlington

100 Montaditos, Arlington

100 Montaditos, Arlington. Service Counter

100 Montaditos, Arlington. Service Counter

Wow. It was empty. In BCN, I’d usually end up standing against a bar counter or somewhere in the corner, especially during happy hour or during a Barça game. Either way, I chose my seat and looked around. The interior was almost identical to its European locations. Though, the Arlington location seemed to advertise itself as more of a sports bar, the interior aesthetic still didn’t disappoint!


Arlington Menu

Arlington Menu

Barcelona Order Sheet

Barcelona Order Sheet

I was a little bit relieved to see a menu entirely in English. (See the full American menu HERE) In Barcelona, the menus at 100 Montaditos are entirely in Catalan, which is to be expected. (See the Spanish menu HERE) In fact, that was half the fun of going to 100 Montaditos abroad. Most of the time, from my Spanish language background, I would understand that a sandwich would come with brie, arugula, and tomatoes, but I wouldn’t know the last ingredient. I would order it anyway. SURPRISE — anchovies! Another interesting thing about the Arlington menu is that it was a bit more Americanized. For example, there was a Philly cheesesteak section as well as a BBQ section, both things you wouldn’t find on the BCN menu.


100 Montaditos, Barcelona. Beer & Vino Tinto

100 Montaditos, Barcelona. Beer & Vino Tinto

100 Montaditos, Arlington. Estrella Damm Beer

100 Montaditos, Arlington. Estrella Damm Beer

Finally, it was time to order. We filled out our order sheets and got 2 beers, patatas bravas, and four sandwiches. I decided to get one more “Spanish” sandwich and then one more “American” sandwich to compare. I was really surprised and happy to discover that they actually served beer from Barcelona at the bar! One of my favorites: Estrella Damm… I even wanted to keep the mug, but I resisted. It wasn’t the same cheap beer typically served at 100 Montaditos in Europe, but I wasn’t disappointed.


100 Montaditos, Arlington. "Patatas Bravas"

100 Montaditos, Arlington. “Patatas Bravas”

The patatas bravas that we ordered were more like heavily fried potato wedges with a spicy ketchup sauce. That’s not to say that they weren’t absolutely delicious, but they weren’t what I was imagining when the menu said “patatas bravas.” I guess I’m used to the type with aioli, but I suppose they can be served with just a tomato sauce too (at least according to wikipedia). Either way, we finished them all, so I guess that’s saying something.

100 Montaditos, Arlington.

100 Montaditos, Arlington.

From top left to right we ordered the following montaditos: tortilla española with aioli, philly steak with brie and arugula, hot dog with ketchup and mustard, and tortilla española with chorizo. The first two were mine and they were both delicious. When they brought the plate to our table, I was happy to see that they gave us chips because that was something that I liked in Barcelona, the chips. One thing, though, that I noticed was different was that they did bring the plates to us. In BCN, I was used to anxiously awaiting my name being called from the service counter. It was one of those annoying things that also made the experience kind of fun.

All in all, I will definitely be returning to 100 Montaditos in Arlington, Virginia. It amazed me how similar to the Barcelona 100 Montaditos it really was and I can consider it a small piece of Barcelona that I can have with me here in the US.


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The Definitive Ranking of Barcelona’s Grocery Stores

7. Dia

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Dia kind of reminds me of a gas station convenience store in that it’s fine to grab a candy bar and a beer there, but you probably want to head to a bigger market for your eggs, milk, cheese, etc. Undoubtedly the cheapest on the list, you get what you pay for with Dia.

6. Carrefour

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I don’t know what I have against Carrefour. Coming from the US, you’d think I’d love it since it’s practically a Super Walmart, but I don’t know it just doesn’t seem to fit.

5. Suma 

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Some might argue that Suma and Carrefour should be switched on this list, but I have  developed a soft spot for Suma given that I lived above one for 6 months. Similar to 7/11 in the US, I spent many nights grabbing a bag of these bad boys on my way back from night class from my friendly Suma cashier:

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4. Mercadona

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I went to school near a Mercadona and as obnoxious as it was to lug my groceries on the metro, I loved this place because it had like a giant conveyor belt that transported you between floors and it played this crazy jingle on repeat:

3. Bonpreu

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Something always seemed so fancy about Bonpreu… like even the name. It was just like a really bougie Mercadona. Each Bonpreu has two separate entrances: one for regular shopping and one for their fancy bakery. They even have a gluten free section, so I guess this place is comparable to a Wegmans and I like Wegmans.

2. El Corte Inglés

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So what you’re looking at is a department store with I think 7 stories. Pretty much every floor sells something different and in the basement is an amazing grocery store. It’s pretty pricey, but it also has an international foods section, pretty upscale meats and cheeses, and other impressive options.

1. Mercat de La Boqueria

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It would probably be a crime not to put this at #1. Although it’s closed on sundays, this huge public market off of Las Ramblas has an extremely diverse selection of fresh foods that you will have trouble finding elsewhere. I had my first experience with dragon fruit here!

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Montaditos

I happened to live close to the center of the city. Right outside Plaça Catalunya. There were all kinds of shopping options at that main hub. They were all really fancy and expensive and I rarely bought anything. There were also plenty of places to eat. Candy stores and themed restaurants and bars dedicated to ham or tapas. My favorite were the patatas bravas. A heaping pile of potato squares or wedges covered in a spicy mayo sauce. They always came out with tiny plastic forks, about the size of sample spoons at ice cream shops. You could always take your food and eat out in the streets. There would be tents, covered if it rained, and large heaters stood like guards set up in the corners of the tent. 

                  I would always stop at this one little shop on Rambla de Catalunya. It was a franchise that sold a variety of little sandwiches. Actually, they sold 100 different variations of these little sandwiches. There’s apparently one of these 100 Montaditos in the DC area.

                  While in Barcelona, and you would eat outside on the street, gypsies and beggars would often pass you by. There’s a high unemployment rate in Spain. There would be a homeless person on about every block when you walked on the street. They held out a can and shook it but usually sat in silence. They might have a sign that explained their situation. But they were more in your face on the metro, or when you were eating.

                  They were all so tan sitting in the sun all day. They looked blistered and sick, and it felt like I was recognized each day on my way to class. It felt like I was the only one they looked at.

                  “Why aren’t you helping me?” I felt bad.

                  One girl in particular I still always think about. She was young. She didn’t even look 18. She was small and close to the ground. She had an old wireless piano that had a faded sound and she crouched on the ground, hunched over to press the buttons and sing along. Her voice was out of key and she yelled rather than searching for a tune. You’d walk by and she would sing to you. Angry and scared.

                  Alongside her every day was her dog. He was skinny like the girl and slept next to her. He never barked. He was only ever cuddled up against the sidewalk, trying to find some shade. They were always outside 100 Montaditos. She must still be there today.

                  She had a fanny pack and would walk her dog up and down Rambla de Catalunya. She looked so alone. She was too young.

                  Everyone that passed would try and avoid her, walking around her piano. Before I left for the US, I stopped to give her my change after getting lunch. She stopped playing her piano for a moment. The dog looked up from his sleep. She didn’t look at me. Only counted the money and ran inside the sandwich shop to see what she could buy:


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On the concrete, the gypsy girl’s dog panted, cooking in the Barça street heat, asleep beside an empty bowl. Her feet calloused when she danced in the eating tents. She sang in tongues and I checked for my wallet. They muffled my order over the speakers. After checking my ticket I was handed my sandwiches inside at the counter and settled back in my seat with a beer to cool off. The gypsy now blanketed her dog. He panted dryer. Her skin glazed sweat, the sun kiln-hot. She sat up. The dog crawled toward her lap. She smoothed its hair in the wrong direction. My beer foamed out its head when she stood again for another bout of dancing and singing. She took a chair from my table and slapped its wired back to drum. Others around were talking about her. I looked at her white eyes looking back. She was as small as my children with those hands. She kept clashing the chair back and chanting until I stood up with my tray. I finished my beer. Her mouth opened as if to bite but instead her dog barked at the passing man brave enough to leave her a bag of sandwiches. She tore past tin foil. She backed against the sidewalk wall and threw her dog a slice of meat. He ate it raw and licked the ground where it had laid.