What a gem of a restaurant in the most unlikely of places, it feels like an industrial estate then you see a lime green painted building which looks like it could be a cafe for the workers or something along those lines. It is in fact a Spanish Tapas restaurant. You certainly need to book ahead, this is not so much of a hidden gem anymore, the word is definitely out. There is a menu but there is also a board full of specials to choose from too. It's best just to order a load of different dishes and share which is exactly what we did. I really cannot fault the food, everything we ordered was delicious and in some cases beautifully presented, especially the duck. The Goat Curry was another stand out dish for me. Everything was flavoursome and there is a really great choice to order from. It's BYO so remember to take your own booze. Makes it a cheap night out, they do sell soft drinks if that's your thing or you need a mixer. Staff are friendly and efficient, great atmosphere and very busy.
I’ve waxed lyrical about my love of Rico Libre before. Putting aside the emotional connection I have to the building, for me it’s one of the first places I recommend to anyone who asks where they should eat in Birmingham. Its uncomplicated and unpretentious, astoundingly cheap, and always welcoming. Most importantly they know flavour. There is no room for daintiness here, everything is boldly seasoned and spiced, the pepper grinder on a constant rotation. Its authentic in the way that Spanish food does not pull any punches.
Rico Libre has to be one of my favourite restaurants in Birmingham. It's the most unlikely place to find fantastic food, but this is all part of its charm. Down a side street in Digbeth, it can feel like you're walking towards a deserted industrial estate in the dark rather than a popular restaurant, and once inside, the surreal nature of the restaurant continues, with band posters on the ceilings, a random old sofa and some weird looking ornaments dotted around.
The tapas dishes themselves though have always been spot on with every visit. The menu has a lot of choice, with seperate sections for meat, fish, and vegetarian. Even what are usually basic tapas dishes, such as patatas bravas, seem to taste 10x better here, and the fish, such as the garlic prawns, always taste really fresh. We've had great luck with the specials too, which are served on slightly larger plates. The soft shell crab really stood out as perfect on our last visit. I can also recommend the garlic flatbread as a starter - they aren't lying when they say there is mucho garlic, which is no bad thing in my book.
Rico Libre doesn't have a license, which means you don't end up with a hefty bill of drinks at the end. They do request however that you spend £17pp, to make it worth their while. This is easily done as most tapas dishes are around a £5, a little bit more for specials. Rico Libre is one of those places that you want to take everyone you know just to see their surprise at the place and the quality of the food.
Great tapas bar with the always welcome addition of.......bring your own booze. Admittedly the wine that my dad had managed to select was pretty rubbish but still nice to see!
So anyway....the food! I thought all of the food we had was great but I have to say that the dishes from the standard menu were better than those on the specials board for me! You can't meat a classic dish from any area of the world when it's done properly and everything we had from Rico Libre was spot on.
-The Stars Of The Show-
Livers served with chorizo
Our waitresses and the owners were so nice and welcoming and the service generally could not have been better. I would recommend this hidden gem to anyone that is a fan of Spanish food and wants a truly authentic experience in Brum.