Barceloneta & the Ports
The city's seafront was ignored until 1992, when it underwent a massive transformation for the Olympics. Despite the initial resistance, it was wildly successful: the city now has seven kilometres of golden sands, running from the bustling Port Vell to the upscale Port Olímpic and beyond to the Fòrum. Inevitably, this is also where you'll find some of the city's best seafood restaurants. Restaurants in Barceloneta & the Ports Can Solé Founded in 1903, Can Solé is one of the city’s classic seafood restaurants, with a selection of rice and fideuà dishes that is perhaps the most extensive in Barceloneta. Their great speciality is creamy rice, a dish that achieves its most sublime form when made with Norwegian king crab. La Mar Salada Chef Marc Singla has taken La Mar Salada beyond being just a typical paella restaurant. His lunchtime menu offers creative cuisine of the highest quality at affordable prices. Negro Carbón Tapas and tango is their motto. Apart from that, these Argentineans serve stupendous barbecued meat (it’s one of the few one of the few places in Barcelona that can be described as an authentic Argentinean parrilla), and generous burgers made from premium beef. Santa Marta At this lovely, laid-back bar by the sea, the Colombo twins from the Xemei restaurant serve special sandwiches (panini and tramezzini) that are very unlike the ones you normally find in Barcelona. They also have daily specials like cod mantecato and all kinds of Italian Venetian snacks. And the
The Barri Gòtic
Combined with a wander down frenetic, commercial La Rambla, a stroll through the medieval alleyways and secluded squares of the Old City is the best possible introduction to Barcelona and the starting point for most visitors upon arrival in the city. For a taste of the town's more grandiose architecture, Plaça Sant Jaume is flanked by two government buildings, the Renaissance palace of the Generalitat and neo-classical façade of the Ajuntament. Restaurants in the Barri Gòtic Ohla Gastrobar The Ohla Gastrobar, at the top of the Ohla Hotel, is an exclusive but relaxed spot that serves small haute cuisine, courtesy of chef Richard Frank, who also runs the modern classic Saüc. La Cuina del DO Such is the quality of this hotel restaurant, located in a basement area in Plaça Real, that the hotel seems to have been built around the restaurant. They offer inspired auteur cuisine, where the produce wins out over technique, with unusual combinations such as crab cannelloni or sole with Swiss chard. Bosco A cosy restaurant with spectacular décor, and which aspires to stake a claim in the barrio through its highly effective cuisine. There’s no pretensions here, just dishes such as cannelloni stuffed with roast chicken, mushrooms and foie gras. Good for sharing. Can Culleretes Barcelona’s oldest restaurant, and one of the oldest in Spain, is still going strong. The Agut-Manubens family, with mother and daughter to the fore, serve good Catalan cooking at very reasonable prices, notably t
Beyond the Eixample lies the low-rise barrio of Gràcia. Like workaday Sants and well-heeled Sarrià, it was an independent town that was swallowed up as the city spread, but it retains its own identity and is one of the most popular and vibrant districts in the city. You can't think of Gràcia without thinking of its 'Festa Major', a district-wide weeklong street fair and party that takes over the barrio every August, complete with neighbourhood decorating competitions that are taken very seriously, and activities all day and into the wee hours. Architecturally, Gràcia can hold its own with the likes of the clock tower in Plaça de la Vila, the modernist Casa Fuster, Gaudí's Casa Vicens and, stretching the boundaries a bit, Park Güell.
Once a no-go area for tourists, the Raval is being transformed. Some of its gems have been around for years - Gaudí's medievalist Palau Güell was an early attempt at gentrification. But others are newer: the revival began in 1995 with Richard Meier's monumental MACBA, housing the city's main collection of modern art, and carried on in 2008 with the futuristic Barceló hotel.
Hotels by area
As you leave the Old City and enter the Eixample (literally, 'Expansion'), narrow, labyrinthine streets and alleys become broad, traffic-clogged, geometrically precise roads. The area is a Modernista showcase: its buildings include the Sagrada Família, La Pedrera and the Hospital de Sant Pau. Restaurants in the Eixample Alkimia Even before Alkimia was awarded its Michelin star it was notoriously tricky to get a table, and these days it hasn't got any easier. Chef Jordi Vilà is hugely respected, and turns out complex dishes that play with Spanish classics – for instance, liquid pa amb tomàquet with fuet sausage, wild rice with crayfish and strips of tuna on a bed of foamed mustard. There is also an enviably stocked wine cellar. What is lacking, however, is a great deal of warmth in either the minimalist dining room or from the occasionally tight-lipped waiting staff. Caelis A restaurant that is not suitable for all pockets, but it has an amazing sampling menu that is made in the Hotel Palace, devised by the talented Michelin-star chef Romain Fornell. They have a lunch menu that includes two snacks, a starter, a main course, dessert and coffee. All included – Michelin star quality served in the spectacular setting of the Hotel Palace. Àpat Eating well at a reasonable price would be a pipe dream in Barcelona if it weren't for restaurants like Àpat: its lunchtime menu is surprising and scrumptious. The dinner menu brings to the table dishes such as cod steak with sweet apple and
Sarrià was its own independent town until 1921, when it was gobbled up by Barcelona and became the city's new uptown area, not only for its geographical location but also for its more posh homes, shops and restaurants. Restaurants in Sarrià Les Truites Juan Antonio Miró is an omelette guru: He opened this restaurant in 1985, and from the outset he focused on omelettes: You can try simple culinary works of art here such as caviar, crab or smoked salmon omelettes. And there’s omelettes for dessert: try the cherry and banana variety. Las Delicias de Francia This was one of the first French restaurants to open in Barcelona. And all those years later, it is well worth revisiting, especially for their unforgettable soufflés and perfect steak tartar. Casa Paloma A good gourmet selection featuring three types of Argentinean-style meat cut. Gouthier A small corner of French flavours and memories, where the most exquisite palates return to sample the finest oysters from Normandy. This is how Ainaud Thierry, the owner, describes them: "They are from the Atlantic, and that means they’re fatter, fleshier, some a little sweet, but all with that deep taste of the sea." The Marennes Oléron oysters which they serve at Gouthier are refined and bred organically. Their flavour is more delicate than the ones from the ocean deeps, less bitter and iodised. In an atmosphere of understated good taste, with a few tables and some high ones for snacks, this restaurant offers not only oysters but also hi
Montjuïc & Poble-sec
It's often left off visitors' itineraries, but the hill of Montjuïc merits a wander. In summer, the hill is a few degrees cooler than the city below, and its many parks and gardens are excellent places for a shady picnic. There are also plenty of museums: the Fundació Joan Miró is as impressive for its Corbusier-influenced building as its collection.A neighbourhood in the Sants district, Poble-sec runs from Av. Paral·lel to Montjuïc and was the first expansion of the city. Paral·lel is known for its theatres, music bars and cabaret clubs, including the inimitable El Molino. Restaurants in Montjuïc & Poble-sec Escairón Escairón is particularly remarkable for its Galician entrecot (sirloin steak) and caldo gallego (Galician broth). Jorge and Pilar make you feel at home, while the clientele are mostly regulars. Aside from the entrecot, main dishes include barbecue, stews, and especially the eponymous dessert, Escairón (crème caramel with a kind of nougat ice cream). Unforgettable fried potatoes accompany the meat dishes. This is the perfect place to delight your palate with the very best of Galician cuisine and fresh, quality market fare at reasonable prices and with excellent service. Xemei The Colombo twins (‘xemei’ means ‘twins’ in Venetian) have bewitched the most demanding fans of Italian cuisine, especially that of their Venice, their hometown. Theirs is a lovely trattoria with a very warm and friendly bohemian atmosphere. Dive in to the best of Venetian cuisine, st
Barrio by barrio – a 60-second tour of Barcelona
The medieval heart of the Old City, the Barri Gòtic is a spider’s web of narrow alleyways and secluded squares and the best introduction to the city, combined with a wander down La Rambla, frenetic and shamelessly commercial, but with a certain charm. For a taste of Barcelona’s more grandiose architecture, Plaça Sant Jaume is flanked by the Renaissance palace of the Generalitat (Catalan government) and the neo-classical façade of the Ajuntament (City Hall). The Born’s main artery, the Passeig del Born, is a former jousting ground and one of Barcelona’s prettiest boulevards, bookended by the magnificent wrought-iron 19th-century market building and the glorious 14th-century Santa Maria del Mar church. Highlights of the slightly scruffier Sant Pere are the swooping polychromatic roof of the Santa Caterina market, and the Modernista Palau de la Música. Once a no-go area for tourists, the Raval is being transformed. Some of its gems have been around for years – Gaudí’s medievalist Palau Güell was an early, brave attempt at gentrification. But others are newer: the revival began in 1995 with Richard Meier’s monumental MACBA, housing the city’s main collection of modern art, and carried on with the creation of the wide Rambla del Raval. The city’s seafront was ignored until 1992, when it underwent a massive transformation for the Olympics. Despite initial resistance, it was wildly successful: the city now has seven kilometres of golden sands from the bustling Port Vell to the upsca