I am not sure how much explanation this post really needs – simply the list of my favorite food spots in the city where I have been living for the past 2 years.
And yes, these are really the best of the best – restaurants I have been to more than once and would still come back given a chance.
P.S. I am still working on the post! More to come SOON.
Breakfast and Brunch
Petit Pot. Waffles, muesli, pancakes, eggs – we see them everywhere. With more or less success. The best thing about Petit Pot is a so-called dish of patacones – behind the weird name, are plantain chips, mashed to form a kind of tortilla, fried, and served with generous dollops of guac, feta, and pico de gallo. OH. MY. GOD. And like it was not enough to screw your diet, they also decided to put nachos with cheddar and pulled pork on their brunch menu. Also, just to let you know, those pancakes here – are the real deal, with butter, bacon and maple syrup.
Granja Petitbo. My first memory of this lovely although tremendously hipster cafe was not a good one. I have pinned it on the map, and walked all along from Barceloneta (I was on vacation in Barcelona, still did not own a Bicing card, and avoided public transportation at all costs) to get there. And when, after having walked for almost 40 minutes under the burning sun, I finally got there… they were closed. At that moment, as hungry and tired as I was, I wanted to kill someone above everything else. And even though I have promised myself to never-ever get back there, I eventually did – and I believe it was the right choice. Quinoa porridge with blueberries and walnuts, crusty whole-wheat toast smeared with butter and jam, golden-brown waffles, and half a dozen of homemade pastries and cakes – and to wash it all down, excellent coffee and fresh juice. And like I said, it is very hipster – which also means extremely comfy to spend hours talking to a friend, or simply spy on passers-by on Passeig de Sant Joan.
Marmalade. If there is a single person to whom I still have not recommended this place, I am truly sorry. Because it deserves five stars only for White Russian cocktail – which has nothing to do with brunch… Or not. You choose. Anyway, mimosas here are also pretty cool, and get those poached eggs with crispy bacon, chorizo hash, or huevos rancheros – and you will get yourself just the right amount of fat and carbs to cure a hangover. Do check Marmalade’s younger sibling – Milk Bar & Bistro – on Carrer d’en Gignàs, 21, in Gotico.
Federal Café. I know-I know, it is like I don’t even have to mention it – because honestly, seems like EVERYONE who lives in Barcelona, or came to visit, at least one has come to Federal Café. Can you really blame them? The cafe has long ago established itself as number one brunch institution in the city, and their oven-baked eggs, burgers, and avocado toast are the stars of instagram. I have been to cafe on Carrer del Parlament (they have another location in Passatge de la Pau, in the Gothic Quarter) on numerous occasions, and I have nothing to complain about. And people blaming slow service, and the long wait to get a table – you do realize that they have three floors, which are 99% of the time are full? Cut them some slack.
Nømad Coffee Lab & Shop. I say it is a good coffee shop when you have half a dozen varieties of coffee beans to choose for your espresso. The latter is also so strong – one drop and the world seems like a better place.
Wer-Haus. Sleek interior, glossy magazines and books on modern art, and smart yet simple cuisine. And of course, The Coffee. Baristas compete on an international level, so no wonder a small glass of flat white looks – and tastes – like a work of art. From time to time they also organize workshops for fellow coffee – lovers.
Satan’s coffee corner. Breakfast, mid-afternoon snack, lunch, dessert – all accompanied by a shot of caffeine. It might be a tricky find among steep streets of El Gotico, but totally worth it. And please do check their instagram feed – on instagram itself or in facebook. The captions are hilarious.
Onna Coffee. Some of my favorite spots were not discovered thanks to TripAdvisor, or Google – but literally by chance. Onna in particular was on my way to an unsuccessful job interview. And hey, maybe I did not get that job, but at least I have found the best filter coffee in the city. There might be some difficulties finding a seat, but you can always ask for take-away – cakes, croissant, sandwiches, and coffee beans to grind them at home.
Sante Gelato. In 2015 I have been living in an awfully small room in a shared apartment, worked for 13 hours a day in the kitchen, and the only thing that got me through the week – was goat cheese-fig ice-cream in Sante Gelato. They do have other amazing flavors, like chocolate with chilli, or mascarpone, plus crowd’s favorites including hazelnut, pistachio and coffee. The cafe is really small, but beautiful and cosy, with a couple of tables outside. This and amiability of the owners make you want to linger there for hours.
Delacrem. This was my favorite ice-cream parlor before I have discovered Sante Gelate (honestly, it would have been a tie – if it were not for Sante Gelato’s personnel, they are just very-very nice). Aside from ice-cream, they also have tarts, cakes, milkshakes and even sandwiches – everything is delicious, but nothing really beats a shot of espresso with a scoop of amaretto ice-cream. The flavors range from popular cream, yogurt, strawberry to less common mojito, grapefruit and sherry wine. The location, on a pedestrian Carrer d’Enric Granados, also grants the advantage of a wonderful terrace.
El Tío Che. I remember reading somewhere, that this is the place for the best orxata (tiger nut-based cold beverage) – I can’t say for the entire city, because this is the only orxata I have ever tried, but it is damn good (hence why I never even bothered trying it somewhere else). Their ice-cream stand is also pretty impressive, although the flavors are pretty standard – among them are vanilla, oreos, cheesecake, rum and raisin, to name a few. A huge disadvantage – because the place is clearly very good, and much beloved by Poblenou’s locals, it is ALWAYS crowded. Unless it is cold and raining, you’d probably have to wait in the line for some time.
Rocambolesc. I am hesitant if what they actually put in your cone, cup or brioche (yes, ice-cream in a bun is a real thing) , is in fact an ice-cream. Sure, it is cold – but it is also insanely velvety, and smooth, it is like… Wow, I want to say a frozen whipped cream, but then it kind of defies the whole purpose of the first sentence. Anyway, it is certainly not your typical ice-cream, especially after you have it covered with half a dozen of toppings (cacao nibs, fresh berries, brownie and cookie chunks, chocolate, caramel bits, and so on), but there is no doubt – this, whatever the hell it is, is DELICIOUS. Drawbacks – flavors are limited, and there is always a queue.
Gocce di Latte. In terms of assortment, I don’t know if anyone can compete with Gocce di Latte – lemon with cumin and pepper, cream with honey and saffron, chocolate with olive oil and sea salt, pear with ginger and cinnamon – and they nailed all of them. But! I I have a small complaint. The service could be much better – I mean, I get it, you have lots of people coming for an ice-cream, should be extremely annoying considering YOU sell the ice-cream… Bonus – their ice-cream is vegan-friendly.
La Pubilla. During lunch time restaurant offers one of the best lunch menus in the city – two courses, drink of your choice (I strongly recommend vermouth – from local crafters from Morro Fi), and a dessert for 16 euros. Not the cheapest but you can tell the ingredients are fresh – chargrilled escalivada with fatty anchovies on top, fork tender white beans with briny almejas, and for dessert there is always a healthier option of fresh fruit, or less fit-friendly – homemade sorbets, puddings and fresh “mato” cheese with generous drizzle of honey. Dinner options feature yet again traditional recipes, much beloved rice and seafood, staples like bread with tomato and jamon, croquetas just to name a few. Remember to book a table ahead – whether you choose lunch or dinner.
Norai. This is literally the only thing I miss about living in Raval (ok, this, and also Can Ricart gym). I used to come here for lunch at least twice a week, because let’s face it, when lunch menu costs only 11 euros (2 courses, a drink, and dessert of coffee), you’d pay more if you stay at home. And I don’t think at home you will have something like pan-seared sea bass with red curry and sugar snap peas, or beetroot gazpacho with crumbles of salty feta cheese. Plus, when the weather is nice, their terrace beneath the orange trees is an oasis 2 minutes from crazy Rambla. On Saturdays the menu is 17 euros, and it is much harder to get in if you did not book ahead. And they also only open for lunch.
Famen. It has been almost 5 years ago since I stumbled upon the restaurant – and it is as good as it was back then. Market cuisine not without a touch of creativity, and excellent service. Grilled skate fish with spiced couscous, vichyssoise with home-made croutons and vegetable chips, duck confit with a dub of sweet and sour berry sauce – for bargain 14.50 euros you have 2 courses (to choose from some half a dozen options), dessert and a glass of exceptionally good house wine. I have never been here for the dinner – but seeing that à la carte menu includes foie terrine, scallops with blood sausage and cod with quince jam among many others, makes me think that I need to.
El Casal. If you are searching for a simple, hearty lunch in a laid-back atmosphere around Born, this is the place you have to add on your Google map. They don’t do large complicated menus, and for each course – first, main and dessert – they normally offer only two choices. Pretty much whatever is available at the market and in season, goes right on your plate. This includes homemade smoked salmon rillette, braised pork with dried fruit, pan-seared red mullet, and to finish off – mouthwatering desserts, like coffee panna cotta with baileys, or lime cheesecake. Price? 11.25 for a full menu with two courses, dessert, bread and drink, and 8.9 if you prefer only one course. They open from Monday to Friday, and aside from lunch, offer an array of tapas and breakfast with hefty xapatas and huge chunks of tortillas among other options.
Beer and Wine
La Perla de Oro. A few years back La Perla de Oro was tucked away on
Carrer de la Unió in Raval, literally 2 steps away from La Rambla. The bar was praised by local and city guests for the most amazing bocadillos – with freshly baked bread from one of Barcelona’s finest bakeries Baluard, and an impressive list of tapas and charcuterie from Spain and France (the owner, Julien, is french – and he is so nice, even an introvert like me could not resist talking to him in-between chewing my sandwich and sipping wine). Perhaps, the only flaw they had was the lack of space, and in the evenings when the bar was especially crowded, this would result in extensive noise. Today, La Perla de Oro is housed in a very different setting, now within minutes from Passeig de Grácia, with ample dining hall, rustic interior, and even a small terrace. Menu still parades variety of simple yet satisfying tapas, plus lunch offer for bargain 10.90 with 2 courses.
La Vinya del Senyor. I don’t always go to El Born (I live on the farther end of the city), but when I do – I make sure to stop by La Vinya del Senyor for a glass of wine. Hungarian Tokaj, German Riesling, and reds from Priorat – only a few popular names on the extensive wine list, which by the way changes on weekly basis. Tapas selection is less varied, but the quality is superb – cured meats and local cheese, duck liver pate with sprinkles of sea salt and balsamic reduction, plump anchovies and toasted bread generously drizzled with fragrant olive oil. And then again, spectacular location overlooking beautiful Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar. Tip: while during warm months you might be tempted to seat outside, climb up the spiral staircase, and you will have a couple of secluded tables with no less spectacular view on the church.