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8 places in Barcelona that aren’t what they seem

That shop is not only a supermarket, and that café doesn't just serve up sandwiches. Appearances can be deceiving, and we uncover eight such surprises in Barcelona


Can you imagine an organic supermarket with its own restaurant, where you can sample the products on sale? A sandwich bar with a secret cocktail speakeasy? A clothing shop with a nightclub hidden inside? Well hold onto your hats, because you're about to discover these and more.

Obbio, espai bio

1. Obbio

Shopping Delis

Some call it the best organic supermarket in the city, but there’s even more to it than that. Obbio is a leader in all things organic, a meeting place that’s well worth taking the time to appreciate, with a café/restaurant and a welcome outdoor terrace at the back where you can sample the very best of healthy cooking. If you’re looking for organic, vegan, gluten- or lactose-free food, or if you’ve gone crazy searching for healthy products for specific dietary requirements, Obbio is the place for you!

Pastrami Bar
©Irene Fernandez

2. Pastrami Bar / El Paradiso

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars El Gòtic

Pastrami Bar, smack in the middle of the Born, is a sandwich bar run by renowned street food impresarios Rooftop Smokehouse, who serve up gourmet fish and meat sandwiches, artisanally smoked in oak barrels. The menu is limited but excellent, and to drink there’s the craft beer they brew every week. But that’s not all: they're open until 3am, and if you pull on the handle of the old-fashioned wooden refrigerator that lines one of the walls, you’ll find the entrance to a hidden cocktail bar. And not just any cocktail bar but El Paradiso, an elegant, wood-panelled space run by Giacomo Gianotti, named the best mixologist in Spain in 2014.

Flamingos Club
Flamingos Club

3. Flamingos Club

Bars and pubs El Gòtic

In Barcelona, one name is synonymous with second-hand and vintage clothes: Flamingos Vintage Kilo, a chain with several outlets selling clothes by weight. Flamingos Club, their shop on C/Avinyó in the heart of the Barri Gòtic, takes the concept one step further. Here, a clothes-shopping expedition can turn into a night out. During the afternoon, their bar serves juices and sushi, while at night the interior of the shop becomes a club with DJs, live music and a party atmosphere.

La Costurera
© Maria Dias

4. La Costurera

Restaurants Chilean Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera

When you step inside this fashion school in Barcelona’s La Ribera district, the last thing you expect to hear is a chef reading out the dishes of the day. At La Costurera, they do it in a calm voice and with no shortage of detail: there’s a bilberry salad with shiitake mayonnaise, cream of squash soup and a risotto – with quinoa instead of rice. It’s so natural you feel as if you’d been invited to a friend’s for lunch. In fact, that’s the desired effect – they don’t even like the word ‘restaurant’.


5. Mitte Barcelona


This delicious art gallery boasts a spectacular cafeteria, which is a real treat for office workers in the area. It's ever so tempting to let the hours pass by with a nice cup of tea and tasty cakes in the charming eatery, which also has three different set lunch menus that are light and appetizing.

Bar Mutis
©Ariadna Arnes

6. Bar Mutis

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Dreta de l'Eixample

Pay no attention to the address, it's for Bar Mut. Mutis is Mut's hidden little cocktail bar sibling. You can get into this charming little secret cocktail bar – which was named best bar in Europe by 'Drinks International' magazine in 2012 – if you book ahead by telephone or ask to be let in from Mut (always politely, of course). Head in and find out why Robert De Niro wanted to open a branch in New York.


7. BARTS (Barcelona Arts on Stage)

Music Music venues El Raval

Formerly the Arteria Paral·lel, the theatre that opened its doors in 2010 under the umbrella of the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, itself built where Studio 54 and the Gran Teatro Español once stood (the latter inaugurated in 1909 and known for its French vaudeville shows and operettas), since 2013 is now BARTS (Barcelona Arts on Stage). The space is managed by promoters The Project, and has two rooms: the main one has a capacity of between 900 (seated) and 1,500 (seated and standing), and the club lounge holds up to 130.

©Scott Chasserot

8. Olokuti


‘Eco, bio, justo’ (‘eco-friendly, organic, fair’) is the mantra of Olokuti, which has already spent a decade defending fair trade and the environment at its fantastic location in Gràcia (and now in the Las Arenas shopping centre as well). What’s more, at the back of the shop there’s  a secret garden, the perfect place to have a break and enjoy a cup of tea, where you can also find presentations or unusual cultural events. They also have an impressive selection of products, illustrating a perfect balance of responsible consumerism and originality.


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