Walking down C/Sepúlveda I spot an establishment that describes itself as a café–bar–art gallery. I peep through the spotless windows into a spacious room, whose high ceilings are supported by striking bare columns, wooden tables, classroom chairs, and walls covered in art, including two decorated with murals. Esquire and AD are displayed on a ladder that serves as a magazine rack, and I catch a whiff of freshly baked cakes. There’s a backyard with parking for bikes.
It’s undeniably cool, but the subconscious is a wily creature and sets to work: it all reeks of the typical Sant Antoni hipster café, aimed at a clientele who aren’t struggling to get by on local salaries. I’m about to give it a miss when, to my surprise, I spot gossip magazine Cuore on one of the tables and, my curiosity piqued equally by the intriguing set-up and J-Lo’s struggles with upper-lip hair, I decide to step inside.
Seeing a copy of football daily Sport next to Cuore, I begin to warm to Bacanal’s style. ‘It’s for a customer of ours who’s 102 and comes in everyday,’explainsJuan,oneof three co-owners. Fully convinced, I take a seat and glance at a menu that proves Bacanal is one of those classic Barcelona bars where you can eat (and drink) at any time of day – if you fancy a ‘brinner’, that painful portmanteau which means to eat a breakfast dish for supper, you can indulge yourself there.
For a more conventional experience, start the day with an excellent coffee from El Magnífico, a juice or a smoothie. ‘We have organic options, but not the whole menu, because we’re obsessed with keeping prices down, although it’s all local produce,’ says Juan. The cocktail menu is full of surprises: while classics like the mojito are absent, there are plenty of less familiar creations such as the Joker (grape juice–infused vodka with limes). I order one with Grey Goose while flicking through Cuore, and realise that avoiding orthodox hipsterdom is a great idea, and that the great love of J-Lo’s life will always be P. Diddy.