Snacking In Old Barcelona
Beyond its spectacular monumental and historical heritage, Barcelona is an eminently gastronomic city. From restaurants with several Michelin stars to long-standing bars and taverns, the Catalan capital is geared to the delectation of the most refined palates. Today we wander through the old town in search of the bars and restaurants where you can sample the best tapas on this side of the Mediterranean.
So many eateries cracked up as tourist destinations can be confusing when it comes to choosing a good place for having tapas. In the lower part of the Gothic Quarter, near the sea, is Bar La Plata. This classic has been offering the same four tapas ever since it opened in 1945. Be sure to try the onion, tomato and anchovy salad, the butifarra (pork sausage) or the scrumptious pescaíto frito (fresh fried fish). Washed down with a good aperitif, it is unlikely to leave you indifferent. La Plata also happens to be one of the favourite watering holes of chef Ferran Adrià.
And, from one classic to another. The delicatessen, La Pineda, has been on Calle Pi since 1930. Its cured meats are excellent and you can sit down to sample some Iberian cured ham, chorizo, fuet (both cured pork sausages) and lomo (pork loin) with a glass of red wine or sherry.
El Born is one of Barcelona’s trendiest quarters and it is brimming with restaurants and bars.
One of our favourites is Cal Pep. Here you can sit at a table or at the bar counter and the object of this establishment is that guests share out dishes as if they were tapas. Everything is designation of origin, with priority accorded to local produce. The fame of this eatery is well deserved.
The same holds true for Bar del Pla, where traditional cuisine is imbued with the young spirit of its proprietors. The calamari croquettes are spectacular, as are their patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy sauce). We recommend you try the dish of the day, and take advice when it comes to choosing the right wine.
You can’t leave El Born without stopping off at El Xampanyet, one of the city’s best known tapas bars. Here, the star beverage is xampanyet, a mild cava which goes down easily and is ideal for accompanying their famous anchovies, pickles and one of the best omelettes in town.
As in other European cities, there are several firms in Barcelona that offer gastronomic tours. For those of you wishing to find out more about Catalan and Spanish cuisine, we recommend Food Lovers Company, one of the best rated businesses for their competitive prices and the professionalism of their guides.
Book your Vueling to Barcelona and venture into the world of its magnificent cuisine.
Text by Aleix Palau for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
A Taste of Argentina… in Barcelona
Eddy Lara Brito
The district of Eixample offers a variety of options. As seen from the above the latticework of streets seems to be infinite and here you will find hidden corners that reveal the most outgoing and multi-cultural side of the city.
The Small Food Corners of Barcelona could be counted in their thousands and their nationalities in the dozens. One of them is Kuks, a tiny corner located – for lack of a better term -some way off the Barcelona’s mainstream, beaten track. The place offers its patrons a more traditional taste of far off Argentina: pasties.
The success and secret of this place lies in the laid back way in which it was set up. Flor, originally from Buenos Aires but who has lived in Barcelona for several years, decided to make her pasties for the famous Bar Absenta. They were accompanied by a tango show. In very little time, the tango dancing was outshone by the pasties as they gained legendary status.
An improvised success meant that Flor became a clandestine star of gastronomy in just a few months. She made her pasties at home and even sub-let the basement of a hot-dog joint to make them. Eventually, she found the right place for her business – a place at 167 Calle Roger de Flor – and decorated it in a simple, yet cosy, style of her own.
Her pasties, pizzas and quiches complete the décor. Anyone who walks through the doors might think there is a little old lady out back making the pasties but in reality the creative genius behind these tasty delights is nobody else but the young and radiant Flor. With her accent and Buenos Aires smile, she’ll definitely make sure you succumb to her Argentinean temptations.
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Barcelona on five senses
By Mariana Calleja from TravelThirst
Barcelona has given me almost four years of experience. Experience that came along with a dream, and how not to love a place you once dreamt of and next thing you are standing right there?
I have had the chance the embrace this place, to have it all for myself and to sense it from head to bottom, from mountain to coast line, from iconic places to hidden undiscovered corners.
So please let me take you into these gothic old streets, into the most perfectly built neighborhood and into some greatest spots in history, in art, in culture, in food-n-drinks tasting. Let me get you inspired into sensing this unique city we all have heard about: Barcelona!
Definitely a great quantity of things to see in this city, but you all know where to find the usual stuff, right? So let’s not stop here and let’s keep moving forward to what you won’t find on a common travel guide.
Montjuic Magic Fountain: the best and most beautiful free water fountains we have seen in our travels, these fountains in Barcelona are not to be missed. With a winter schedule (Friday-Saturday 7-9pm) and a summer schedule (Thursday-Sunday 9-11:30 pm) you will have an endless opportunity to enjoy this show. Music, colors and water become alive all together in a beautiful set of artistic display.
View of Barcelona from down under the W Hotel. Right on the corner of Barceloneta Beach, you will find a surprising spot, not as touristy as one might think, with plenty of coffee places in order to enjoy the afternoon, winter or summer. Even a mojito if you please on a new “chiringuito” or beach bar for quite a low budget. Feel free to walk, rent a bike, roller skates, or even take the bus. Just make sure you don’t miss this secret spot. One city view you won’t get from anywhere else in town!
Castellers: traditional and local human towers! You read that right. Declared as a Human Heritage, this local activity has it all for your sight: from amazement to stressful balancing moments. Every neighborhood and every town has its own group of castellers. They don’t perform daily or weekly, but you can definitely search or ask for the next presentation closest to you. And it is always a free attraction, so write this down as I write and you read.
Unfortunately, salty-sea smell is not an option here. Despite being such a salty sea, the Mediterranean Sea has not a great or strong sea-like aroma. But it doesn’t really matter when you have such a city right on its side.
Barcelona has appeared to my nose as a fantastic lab many times, even for all senses. But I have found out it is mostly about the scents on the street. Like what? Well, bakery and chocolate shops. Not to leave fresh fruit markets aside of course. But to me, bakeries, pastry shops and bread shops are the winners to my scent-album! So many of them throughout town and all of them so worth even a little taste, not only a deep smell.
Besides, it’s quite cheap! So don’t hesitate on trying any good “patisserie” whenever in town (even better if hidden from main touristy streets or areas). Sit down peacefully or why not, take away to that little corner at the beach. It will all be worthwhile and you will enjoy the moment forever.
Also, do not doubt indulging your nose with some fresh market scents. It is all about juicy fruits, jumping next to the fish section with quite a different smell. Then hitting the isle down to the sausages and meat stands, just to finally and happily end up at the chocolates stand. Open your lungs, close your eyes, grab your purse and take a long deep breath right there. Your soul will regain energy afterwards.
Traditional castellers’ music: a small band particularly known as “cobla” are the ones in charge of playing some air instruments with one unique kind of sound, as part of their human towers ritual, setting the right time and rhythm of the ascending. Nothing like we have heard before. It certainly gives some emotion and feeling to the whole event. Once more, castellers and their music is worth mentioning here. As a free activity, you can put two senses to good practice while enjoying this incredible performance.
Sagrada Familia’s bells during christmas time: no words needed in order to describe this one. As simple as it sounds. So if you are around during christmas time, make sure you go visit and sit somewhere around this church, preferably on the night of December 24th. Then just sit and let go into an overwhelming experience as the church become alive to the sounds of bells playing the Holy Night.
Food and flavors in Barcelona is all about one thing: Traditions. And with these, let me give you a few but tasty tips on what to taste, depending on the season you are visiting the city. Don’t worry, there is something for everyone!
Calçots: a winter onion-like dish full of fun! Get your glove and bib ready to dip these onions into the most exquisite homemade special sauce.
Fideua: a paella made with tiny noodles and served with alioli. Couldn’t get better!
Cava with lemon sorbet: happy new years! Unbelievable fresh and classy drink, easy to make and ready to welcome a new year full of adventures.
Panellets: Easter week time brings some delightful little pastries of several kinds. They are called panellets and are sold by weight. Go by a pastry shop and buy one of each, then head to the nearest park and enjoy with a nice cuppa coffee or even some more Cava. Cozy, warm and sweet flavor.
The toughest sense to discover and describe, but also the most memorable one within our sensory album of life.
Barcelona is the heart and home for Modernism, which brings a special detail to be touched. Something you will barely find in any other place in the world.
Trencadís: this is the name for the very popular technique by Antonio Gaudi, the one with lots of ceramic pieces, with tons of colors and images, even hidden messages. This technique makes a unique surface, which can be found extensively at the Parc Guell mainly, but also at many other of Gaudi’s art, such as Casa Batlló and La Pedrera.
San Jordi’s City Door: a magnificent historical monument at the the Crown’s Archive building right in the heart of the Gothic neighborhood. Made with bronze in 1975 by Josep Maria Subirachs, this huge door gives a great overview to the history of Catalonia, all within the Sant Jordi legend: a saint who defeated a dragon in order to save an entire town and a princess. Its greatest figures and irregular surface lets people enjoy some learning while touching history itself.
After these experiences, you will certainly have some great stories to share and many memories through the senses that will make you want to come back to Barcelona.
By Mariana Calleja from TravelThirst
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The best gin & tonics in Barcelona
At Bar Calders, first opened in mid-March 2011 and located on the corner of Calle Parlament and Passatge de Pere Calders, their goal has been to pay tribute to this great writer in their own special way.
Enjoying their gin & tonics on the peaceful Andalusian-style terrace is an absolute joy. The owners, Ramón Lamarca and his son Marc, pour them with great care, adding a few juniper berries and never without a cheery smile.
25 Carrer Parlament, 08015 Barcelona
Opening times: 08:30 to 02:00-03:00
Úbeda has become one of the fashionable places to have a drink in Barcelona, especially now that the gin & tonic has moved away from only being a favourite among the older population and has now been embraced by young people too. Úbeda has received much recognition for its cocktails.
Javier Úbeda is the founder and also responsible for the décor, in which his artistic side comes across strongly through the numerous paintings, works of art and small details that make this place so welcoming.
The menu includes a wide range of gins, all of which are served with Fever-Tree tonic: Citadelle Gin Reserve 2008, Blackwood, Bulldog, Hendrick’s, Plymouth and Seagram’s, among many others.
202 Valencia | 133 Josep Tarradellas | 339 Córcega
Pesca Salada still conserves the old sign bearing the name of this local shop and the old fridges that now hide the toilets. Apart from that, the place has been renovated to look like a huge tin of sardines: an original ceiling of gold and silver scales; a mosaic floor designed to look like waves; the painted vinyls; a fish tank with hanging fish; and a beach with cocktail umbrellas. All of this fits into a small bar with wooden tables and chairs in the very heart of Raval.
They prepare all kinds of cocktails with a particular focus on the gin & tonic. Iván explains that they have more than 24 different types of gin for preparing gin & tonics with great care for a price of between € 6 and € 9, all of which can be mixed with Brand Tonic, Fever Tree or Fentimans, to mention just three.
32 Calle de la Cera, 08001 Barcelona
The nostalgic look of the 80’s returns to the Raval district of Barcelona at Bar Cassette.
The interior décor is based on lamps made from cassette tapes. The entrance window is decorated with old cassette decks, music posters and other vintage items. Although the place is small, there is an even more intimate area resembling your own living room complete with the settee, lamp and typical picture on the wall.
The two owners of Bar Cassette, Laura and Fabio, both from La Rioja, prepare numerous cocktails (particularly gin & tonics) with great care and include a free tapa until 22:30.
11 Calle del Este, 08001 Barcelona
933 028 509
Tirsa Cocktail Bar
Tirsa is a family business that has gradually become increasingly specialised. It is now one of the best cocktail bars in the city. The experienced barman, Manel Tirvió will advise you on the gin & tonic that best suits your tastes as they do not have a fixed menu.
It used to be a grocery store but the business was adapted in line with the great passion the owner had for the world of cocktails.
They serve gin & tonics in a tall glass with only two ice cubes so the drink never gets watered down and maintains the original flavours from the first sip until the last.
174 Calle de Rafael Campalans, 08903 L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona
93 431 23 02
Bar Elephanta offers gins from all over the world, different tonics and various options to add a twist so that everyone can find the combination of flavours they like the most.
Here’s how it works: first you have to pick the gin you like the most from the list of 36 different varieties at prices that range from € 6 to € 11; then pick a twist from a list that includes lime, lemon, grapefruit or mandarin, such classics as the juniper berry or lime, flower-fruits such as natural rose petals or fruits of the forest, herbs such as fresh rosemary, mint and arbequino olives or spices such as black pepper, coffee, liquorice, cardamom and lemon or nutmeg; finally, you pick a tonic. A Schweppes is included in the price of the gin but if you want a special mixer, choose the catalane tonic, Boylan or 6 O’clock for an extra euro.
If you think all those choices might be too complicated, you can pick straight from a list of house suggestions that includes a Blackwood with meta strawberry, a twist of lime and Boylan tonic for € 10.
37 Carrer del Torrent de Vidalet, 08012 Barcelona
Tel.: 932 376 906
Open every day. Monday to Saturday from 18:00. Sundays from 17:00.
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