We found the best restaurants in Barcelona that both satisfy your cravings and entertain the children
'Merquén' is a tasty condiment made from roasted peppers, a legacy of the Mapuche culture that spread to Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. In Chile it's used for seasoning dishes of the finest Andean cuisine. It looks powdery with small reddish flakes and is made of the dry and spicy 'cacho de cabra' variety of chili and mixed with coriander seeds, although the Mapuche also include other ingredients. Merquén is also the name Chilean Rolando and Catalan Laia have given their restaurant with Chilean soul and Mediterranean flavour. While there are a number of well-prepared Chilean dishes, Laia puts the Catalan touch on things in the kitchen. Especially when it comes to the tapas.
The best thing you can say about a vegetarian restaurant is that it doesn’t seem like one. Forget about the vegetarian clichés of sad tofu salads, here they offer a lunch menu featuring imaginative, tasty, nutritious dishes such as beans with cream of polenta and sage or home-made stuffed pasta, and always with an aperitif tapa included. In the evenings they unveil a range of tapas such as papas arrugas, Argentinean pies, burritos and fajitas. A small, well-chosen selection of wine and beer is available.
Ada Parellada’s cooking is always fun, fresh and original. It’s worth a visit to see how she has reinterpreted classic French and Catalan cuisine, with some delicious game dishes. They do a set lunch menu at a reasonable price, especially when you bear in mind that this is true gastronomy. Saturday afternoons during the school year, they put on 'Patacutxi', cooking workshops for kids from four to ten years old. The workshops are also available in English, so you can relax and eat your meal while your children learn to cook for you at home!
Until the early 20th century, a city dairy farm ('vaquería', where urbanites would go to get fresh milk) stood on this site. But times change, and it’s now a Scandi-inspired café with an excellent design. They serve all kinds of food for breakfast (including different scrambled egg dishes), and afternoon snacks such as home-made cakes and tempting sandwiches. There’s also a dish of the day that’s worth a try, while on Saturday and Sunday they serve brunch. To sum up, whenever you go, you could find yourself staying the whole day.
If there was a café in the animated part of 'Mary Poppins' – you know, when they jump into the chalk drawing on the pavement – it would look like Pudding. Opened by a Frenchwoman based in Barcelona, Pudding was designed for spending the afternoon with the kids. Parents can enjoy a cappuccino with pastries or sandwiches while the little ones occupy themselves with books, games, chalkboards and even iPads that they'll find at their disposal. This spot can also help organize birthday parties that are much more stylish than at Burger King.
Heading to the neighbourhood civic centre might not be the first idea that comes to mind for breakfast or lunch with the kids. But the cafe and restaurant of the Vil·la Florida civic centre has a well-designed, healthy daily menu, in which couscous frequently features. They also have good burgers and omelettes, as well as a selection of home-made cakes.
Espai Mallorca closed its doors, and Barcelona was missing a place to get good Balearic food. The answer has come from the unlikely trio of editor Pema Maymó, architect Lourdes, and graphic designer Antònia the three partners at Idò DO Balear. It's a multitasking space with a shop filled with gourmet products, a restaurant and a bread shop, all filling the space with island delights. A good lunch or dinner here can consist of a shared combination of tapas, perfect to go with vermouth. There's also a space especially for kids with big tables and a wall made of chalkboards so they can have as much fun as the grown-ups.
For all Pere Calders fans – God has heard your prayers. The cul-de-sac named after the writer has recently become home to one of the loveliest spots in Sant Antoni. They have books by the Catalan author, the draught beer flows freely and there’s a selection of tapas that sends shivers of pleasure through the district. Obviously, the best thing to try is the vermouth. They stock four brands, but if you want to try a Priorat, then you should go for the one from Falset. Incidentally, the outdoor terrace is one of the district’s best kept secrets: You’ll just keep coming back.
This kind of self-service restaurant with various market-type stalls serves up quality Italian produce at affordable prices. You'll see just that in dishes like the authentic carbonara, which is worlds apart from the milky liquid you might get at lesser establishments. They use 'guanciale' here, not bacon, and 'pecorino romano' with egg yolk, not some tired runny cream; the pizza is made with farro (spelt) dough, which is lighter than wheat – try the gorgeous pizza with truffle cream and mushrooms, quail eggs and smoked 'speck' ham; and you can't go wrong with the sampler board of six imported cheeses. You also get healthy portions, making it easy to share with the little ones.
El Bar has an inside area where children can run around while the parents take a break and eat a meal. Don’t worry about your child running off, they aren’t allowed to leave the restaurant unless they’re with an adult. There’s room to ride bikes, skate and run without fear of knocking food off of a waiter’s tray.
Relax and enjoy a meal while your kids play in the child-proof playroom that’s an integral part of the Family Room Café. The café uses fresh ingredients for its meals and desserts, making it a healthier alternative. Bonus: Before or after a meal it’s only a quick walk with the kids to check out Camp Nou!
Got kids who are tired from a long day of walking around and exploring Barcelona? Stop at La Nena and grab a hot chocolate or a piece of their homemade chocolate to recharge everyone’s batteries. There’s a room where the kids can play while you grown-ups enjoy your afternoon coffee or your own piece of chocolate.
Located behind the Barcelona Cathedral, Bobo Pulpín is a great place for the kids to grab a bite to eat with a side of entertainment. Bobo is the captain of the restaurant and has sailed all over the world. He displays his travels on a map with pictures of where he’s visited. Plot twist: Anyone who’s travelled the world with a Bobo cuddly toy can send their pictures in to the restaurant for display. Although it’s a restaurant that specialises in octopus, a wide selection of snacks and appetizers are also available. Bobo also loves to try new recipes he’s discovered while travelling the world.
This restaurant practically on the city outskirts has something that will really get the kids excited: an animal farm attached to it! They can ride the pony any time, from a quick four-minute ride to as long as a half hour. And of course there are ducks, pigs and wandering peacocks. There’s also a small playground and garden close to the restaurant that may have the prettiest views since walking through Barcelona’s Ciutadella Park.