First Look: Bar Mercado

Helmed by John Castellucci, The Castellucci Hospitality Group’s latest restaurant brings simple yet thoughtful Spanish tapas to Krog Street Market

How is Bar Mercado different from Cooks & Soldiers and The Iberian Pig?
We wanted to do something that was unique to Krog Street and the neighborhood, something true to traditional Spanish tapas—super ingredient-focused but refined at the same time. The menu is more simplified, but just as much effort and preparation goes into it. We wanted to present it how it would be presented in Spain, with thoughtful ingredients.

Tell us about that presentation.
There’s a lot of attention to detail, like plate ware and where we’re sourcing all the ingredients from. There’s definitely more focus on the ingredients, with it being so simple; there’s less than five ingredients on pretty much every plate, so those have to have a purpose and really stand out.

The restaurant takes its name from The Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid.
The whole color scheme was definitely like the Mercado de San Miguel. Before, it was very dark, and we definitely wanted to brighten it up. Working with Square Feet Studio [on the interiors] was one of the most fun parts. They definitely knew they had a lot of creative freedom with us because we like to just let them run with it.

How did the location inside Krog Street Market influence the atmosphere?
We wanted to have a lot of energy. There’s no formality to the ordering, so everything’s just hitting the table as it comes. This is aimed to be that kind of Monday night place to grab a few friends together—even if you want to just pop in for a drink and a couple small bites—or show up before you go out in Inman Park.

The experience here lends itself to a variety of occasions.
The menu definitely reads more simple and approachable. You can feel comfortable in here, but someone could also celebrate an anniversary and feel like it’s a good spot for that. It’s good to have that balance of not feeling stuffy but it being fun and cool enough to make it the start of the night.