Barcelona Tourist Guide To Restaurants.
Mar I muntanya, or ‘sea and mountain’, is how Catalans describe the combination of fish and meat in their cuisine. The ingredients are at their very best in the La Boqueria food market in the Ramblas.
Fine, fresh ingredients are the basis of the Catalan cuisine. Meat and fish combinations include chicken and spiny lobster; rabbit with langoustines and for the more adventurous, tuna stew with snails.
Pa amb tomaquet – Simple yet delicious and it’s found everywhere in Barcelona. It dates back to the 19th century and consists of bread, sliced and rubbed with the ripest tomatoes, a few drops of olive oil and a little salt.
It sounds like a tomato sandwich but is so much more. It can be served with cheese, ham, anxoves de l’Escala, tortilla or meat from a charcoal grill. Sometimes the bread is lightly toasted and some restaurants will serve the ingredients separately.
Catalonia is the only part of Spain where pasta is popular.
Fresh Fish: The Spanish are great fish eaters and the freshest possible supplies are available. They also love dried cod, or bacalao, while Suquet de peix or Catalan fish stew is popular, combining fish, shellfish, and octopus with tomatoes, white wine, saffron and perhaps some almonds.
Eel, cooked with garlic and peppers is a favorite and there are many shrimp dishes, enjoyed particularly at full moon, when the local catch can be particularly large.
Pasta: Catalonia is the only part of Spain where pasta is well established, with noodles a favorite since the Middle Ages. Dishes like cannelloni Catalan-style or noodles Lleida-style, with pork and the famed local sausage, butifarra and soup noodles.
Crema Catalunya: Similar to the French crème Brulee, this is one of the staples of Catalan cuisine. It’s served in shallow earthenware dishes and a hot iron may be used to brown the sugar.
Restaurant prices include ‘service’
While tapas bars are not particularly Catalan, there are many to be found across the city along with excellent Basque restaurants. Most decent restaurants will feature Catalan dishes while fine dining leans towards a blend of Catalan and French.
There is the inevitable rash of pizza parlors and burger bars while Indian, Chinese, other Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and North African cuisines are now well represented. You can even find pie and chips for the Wetherspoons contingent. Most of our recommendations are in the Ramblas areas of Barri Gotic and El Raval.
Arc Café: One of the best brasserie bars in Barcelona with hearty Mediterranean, Caribbean and Asian-influenced dishes and softly lit surroundings. It’s on a picturesque street near Plaça Reial. Carrer Carabassa 19 Tel: (93) 302 5204
Café de l’Academia: A lovely stone flagged restaurant in the Barri Gotic, with excellent Catalan cooking at very reasonable prices. Carrer Lledo 1 Tel: (93) 319 8253
Los Caracoles: A bit pricey, but a local landmark – spit-roasted chickens and snails are a house specialty. Carrer Escudellers 14 Tel: (93) 302 3185
Les Quince Nits and La Fonda: Both restaurants are part of the same chain. Les Quince Nits (Tel: (93) 317 3075), is at Plaça Reial 6. No reservations at these good value restaurants. Decent food in pleasant surroundings but they are so popular you often have to queue to get in. La Fonda is to the south at Carrer Escudellers 10, Tel: (93) 301 7515.
El Racó d’en Baltà: A design-led restaurant with a fresh approach to traditional dishes with low prices, plus a decent wine list. Carrer Aribau 125 Tel: (93) 453 1044.
Fil Manila: Near Plaça de Catalunya, this is Barcelona’s Filipino restaurant, and it’s also excellent value for money. The choice of dishes is vast – coconut milk curries and superb puddings. Carrer Ramelleres 3 Tel: (93) 318 6487
Ba Ra and Silenus: Near to the Boqueria market. A wide selection of dishes at Bar Ra, a stylish restaurant with a sunny patio. Pl de la Garduna Tel: (93) 423 1878.
Silenus is an arty place with value lunches but pricier in the evening. c/dels Angels 8 Tel: (93) 302 2680.
Cava Wine: Cava was first produced in 1872 on the Cordiniu estate and the company is still the leading producer of this champagne-style sparkling wine. There six types according to the sweetness. The driest is Extra Brut; then Brut; Extra Seco; Seco; Semi-Seco and the sweetest Duce. Many companies also sell quality vintage Cava.
Travel Guide To Cafes And Bars in Barcelona.
The Cafes and Bars:
Barcelona has an excellent range of cafes and bars, from the most fashionable haunts to typical tourist spots.
The Barri Gotic, near the Cathedral, will attract many visitors, particularly the area around c/d’Avinyo and c/Escudellers, where there’s also a good choice of restaurants.
Further east, La Ribera is a popular destination while to the west of the Ramblas, places are opening up near the MACBA in El Raval. In summer, you can head down to the sea with a wide range of bars at both Maremagnum and Port Olimpic.
For music, head to Eixample and the western part of Gràcia. Music bars are often open until 3 am while local bars can stay open until 11 pm or into the early hours.
Our suggestions hardly scratch the surface, there’s such a wide choice. Try and enjoy some local bars for the real Catalan experience.
Glaciar on Pl. Reial is a good starting point on one of the most attractive squares in the city. Nearby on the square, the Pipa Club is a popular late night bar with a jazz-club like atmosphere.
Parnasse is worth seeking out if you want to indulge in absinthe, and you can listen to jazz as the world turns yellow! Zoo, on c/Escudellers, has a wide music selection while Margarita Blue (c/Josep Anselm Clave 6) is popular, often with live music.
Almirall is said to be the city’s oldest bar and is a popular left-wing spot. It’s at Joaquim Costa 33. The London Bar at c/Nou de la Rambla 34, is modernista bar and has a wide range of often live music. Marsella at c/de Sant Pau is over a hundred years old and is another spot for absinthe.
Suborn is worth searching out at c/Ribera 18 – it has tapas during the day and is both a restaurant and music bar at night. Espai Barroc at c/de Montcada is a converted palace and often has classical music on Thursday’s. La Vinya del Senyor is near to Santa Maria del Mar and is a very pleasant wine bar.
Dry Martini is a famous cocktail bar at c/Aribau 166, with a stylish interior. La Fira (c/Provenca 171) is pretty bizarre with its fairground rides but that hardly compares with L’Arquer (Gran Via 454) where you can have a go on the archery range!
If you go for dim lights and red velvet, try Les Gens Que J’Aime at c/Valencia 286. The Zurich cafe on Plaça de Catalunya is a famous institution and always bustling.
If you want the ultimate view down on the city, try the Mirablau on Tibidabo mountain. It’s very popular, stylish and expensive but it’s an experience to remember.
Holiday Travel Guide To Shopping Breaks In Barcelona.
Shops And Shopping:
Barcelona is almost certainly the best shopping city in Spain. From the giant El Corte Ingles on Placa de Catalunya to small boutiques, back street specialist music stores and the fabulous La Boqueria market on the Ramblas.
There really is a great range of options for any serious shopper. Many stores are open until 10 pm but the majority are shut on Sundays.
In the port area, the Maremagnum complex includes sportswear, a FC Barcelona store and lots of souvenir shops.
Most visitors will find their way to El Corte Ingles on Plaça de Catalunya, right in the center of the city and hard to miss. It is the city’s largest store and has a pleasant atmosphere. Across the square is El Triangle, a shopping center with the FNAC store housing a good book store, including an English section.
Down in the port area, the Maremagnum complex includes sportswear – also an FC Barcelona store – lots of souvenir shops and restaurants and bars.
To the east, on Plaça de les Glories Catalanes, is the Centre Commercial Barcelona Glories, a large mall with lots of familiar international names. L’Illa at Diagonal 555-559 is an uptown mall, including an FNAC.
The world-famous La Boqueria market near the top of the Ramblas will attract most visitors but there are other daily food markets across the city.
El Corte Ingles on Placa de Catalunya is Barcelona’s main department store.
There’s a specialist antique market near the Cathedral in the Barri Gotic – and it becomes an excellent Christmas market during most of December – and another at weekends on the Port Vell harbourside. The flea market, selling clothes, jewelry and furniture is at Plaça de les Glories Catalanes.
Barcelona Fashion Shopping:
The best area is Eixample with Passeig de Gracia and Diagonal offering a wide selection from the very exclusive, such as Muxaert shoes (c/Rossello 230 and Rambla Catalunya 47) through to affordable fashion shops such as Zara, now with a good number of stores in the city. Mango is another brand worth searching out – it was founded here in Barcelona.
Food Shops in Barcelona:
As well as the markets, there are specialist shops worth exploring. Formatgeria La Seu at c/Dagueria, offers farmhouse cheeses from around Spain and the Scottish owner has Saturday cheese tastings. Colmado Quilez at Rambla de Catalunya 63 is a specialist Catalan grocer with a fantastic xarcuterie counter.
Caelum, at c/de la Perrer 8, has tempting traditional sweets and other goodies from Spanish convents. The sticky marzipan is superb, or try the herb-flavored olive oils. Casa Gispert roasts coffee and nuts and there are dried fruit and products like mustard and preserves. It’s at c/dels Sombrereros.
If sausage is your thing, head for La Botifarreria (c/de Santa Maria 4) for an amazing range of handcrafted sausages, plus cheeses and hams. If you know your coffee, El Magnifico is as good as its word – a magnificent choice of beans and blends, all at c/de l’ Argenteria 64.
The stalls down the Ramblas sell a wide range of books in English plus magazines and newspapers. In addition, Casa del Libre at Pg de Gracia 62, in Eixample, is the city’s largest book store and has a sizeable English section.
Holiday Travel Guide To Nightlife In Barcelona.
Taste The Nightlife:
Barcelona is a vibrant city with a wide range of live music and theatre. Venues include the famous Gran Teatre del Liceu opera theatre on the Ramblas; the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya; the Teatre Lliure and the Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall. There are many performances in English as well as Catalan and Castillian Spanish.
Most European rock tours include Barcelona on their schedule, while the GREC festival takes place every summer and attracts renowned performers and companies to Barcelona.
Barcelona is home to the Sónar Music Festival, an electronic music extravaganza, which takes place annually around June.
Most clubs are in the Barri Gotic, Raval, Poble Nou, and Eixample. The Spanish ‘village’ of Poble Espanyol on Montjuïc is also popular – try the Torres de Ávila in summer with its fantastic terrace.
The style elsewhere varies from the likes of Cafe Royale in the Barri Gotic (c/Nou de Zurbano 3) just off the Pl. Reial, a favorite of the ‘beautiful people’ where you’ll want to be dressed in style, to basements like the nearby Karma.
Check out whether it’s a music bar or a disco you’re heading for. Music bars tend to close earlier – 2 or 3 am – whereas discos are likely to be going to 5 am and tend to be more expensive.
Sometimes an entry is free, but expect to pay for it through the high-priced drinks; others charge on entry and that may vary with the arrival time or if there’s live music on offer.
Music bars tend to close at 2 or 3 am – Discos are likely to be going to 5 am.
Barcelona Stag Weekends:
‘The Stag Company’ provides tailor-made Barcelona stag weekends. The rich culture gives a fantastic backdrop to some of the best clubs in Europe. For that daytime, adrenaline rush try karting, paintball, and poker. Watch Barcelona FC or head to the beach for water sports and hot air ballooning.
Barcelona Live Music:
There’s a big choice, whether you’re looking for rock and pop; jazz; classical or opera. With such a variety, it’s a good idea to check out one of the listings magazines during your stay.
It may not be Catalan in origin, but there’s a fair bit of flamenco in town. The Soniquete (c/Milans 5) in the Barri Gotic is highly regarded. The Harlem Jazz Club (c/Comtessa de Sobradiel 8), also in the Barri Gotic, has a wide appeal and variety of jazz styles.
The Barcelona and Catalonia National Symphonic Orchestra, the Orquestra Simfonica de Barcelona I Nacional de Catalunya or OBC, dates back to 1944 and plays at l’Auditori, which opened in 1999. It performs around 75 concerts per season with a season running from September to May.
Check the listings magazines during your stay for live music events.
There’s a well-established cabaret tradition in Barcelona. It leans towards music rather than comedy, so it is relatively accessible to non-Catalan speakers. The Mercat de les Flors on Montjuïc, part of the Ciutat del Teatre, is the main venue. Another worth looking for is Llantiol in c/Rierata, a cabaret cafe with shows every night but Monday at 9 pm and 11 pm.
While most foreign films are dubbed into Catalan or Spanish, a number of cinemas show original language (V.O) films. Try Filmoteca in Eixample or Maldá in the Barri Gotic.