The Restaurant Design

Barlata offers a warm and intimate atmosphere in a light and open space. Industrial-style chandeliers illuminate a striking bar area, communal tables and more private dining options.

The design allows for relaxed elegance in a setting that is distinctly modern and covertly Spanish.

Olivella and Jerez hired Award-winning Austin architect Michael Hsu to enhance their vision and bring it into fruition. Hsu, who’s worked on a number of South Austin restaurants (Sway, Uchi, Olivia), understood the owners’ contemporary aesthetic and personalities: their commitment to a cultural heritage, a disinclination toward overblown Spanish iconography. “He put the pieces together,” says Jerez. “It reflects what we wanted.”

“When you walk in, this could be any type of restaurant,” says Olivella. “But then you look at it again and see Barcelona.” Spain is in the details: curves that call to mind the work of Antoni Gaudi; vibrant Barcelona Red tiles; paintings of the classic Spanish siphon. The couple worked with Austin graphic designer Ryan Henneesee on a mural that began as a tribute to the popular Spanish comic strip Mortadelo y Filemón. The slapstick comic is about an unlikely pair of secret agents, who are beloved for their childish antics and adult humor. “They are two older gentleman who are hapless and political and act like little kids,” says Jerez. “They have a huge following.” (Olivella has a tattoo of them on his right arm.)

While the Mortadelo and Filemón characters appear prominently throughout the mural, closer inspection reveals the metro signs that are ubiquitous in Barcelona. There are images of typical Spanish foods: jamón, latas with Sardines, tapas; gypsies; flamenco dancers; toreros, or bullfighters; and Spanish sayings. A restaurant favorite: Barriga Llena Corazon contento. A full stomach is a happy heart.