Eating salad at a restaurant in Barcelona may sound like a boring choice compared to all of the gastronomic classics the city has to offer, but hear us out. These eight locations aren't just offering your regular old greens: their takes on healthy meals are creative, interesting, and far from blah. If you've been noshing on nothing but heavy fried tapas or had one plate of paella too many, these are the spots to hit for a delicious reset.
With the motto of 'good food, good mood’, which is proclaimed on a poster adorning this contemporary and cosmopolitan café, Rodríguez & Co’s philosophy is healthy (and, they say, fun) cooking, based on four elements: juices, smoothies, sandwiches and salads. Among the latter you'll find creations such as the Asilah (couscous, chickpeas, vegetables, almonds and raisins, with yoghurt dressing), and one with spinach, poached egg, sun-dried tomatoes, apple and dried fruits.
When you call Iposa and someone answers ‘Mossos d’Esquadra [the Catalan police force], buenos días’, you know it’s a place with a sense of humour and imagnation, and this is reflected in the menu of salads that rocketed them to success. ‘When I opened 15 years ago, only girls came,’ says Sebastian, owner and the man behind the joke on the phone. Nowadays the menu is more wide-ranging, but the salads are still there. Examples? The one with pasta and prawns with dill, and another of spinach, duck gizzards and croutons. At lunchtime they have half-sized salads for €3.
The salad made with buffalo mozzarella from the Empordà region of Catalonia is already a classic in this place that favours creativity, slow food, locally sourced ingredients, fair trade and respect for the environment. And they know perfectly well that even if ‘Catalan mozzarella isn't as flavourful as the one from Campania’, it’s still really good and, in life, above all else, it’s important to be consistent.
The restaurant of the new Hotel Brummell, in the Poble-sec neighbourhood, has a lovely interior terrace and a very interesting menu that includes seasonal, light and healthy dishes with South American touches. This approach translates into a selection of salads that range from the most classic, called the ‘Urban allotment’ with seasonal fruit and veg, to the most exotic in the form of Korean dish kimchi with cabbage, squash and coriander.
On the menu of this fashionable bistro with a free-thinking spirit are around ten salads, from the classic Caesar to others with a strikingly French air, such as bistro-style herring with warm potatoes, and 'une salade' of green beans with foie gras and parmesan shavings. Even though the salads are standout dishes at Café Emma, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try being a Parisian bon vivant for the day and pair your lobster salad with a few oysters, for example.
This gastronomic paradise where everybody is thin, attractive and apparently in harmony with themselves, has dishes that are flexitarian (flexible vegitarian), creative and delicious. In Flax & Kale, which would have been an impossibility in BCN until fairly recently, you can decide how vegetarian you want to be in a space full of multicoloured dishes that's proud of being unorthodox, and makes around a fifth of its recipes with fish.
Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera
With its huge windows, this restaurant is light and welcoming, and serves up what the owners call ‘temperature cooking’, demonstrated by a menu that's divided into four sections: raw, low-temperature, hob and grill. In the raw part, we like innovations such as couscous with broccoli, fruit and dried fruit; spheres of fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and herbs; and the fresh corvina ceviche with orange, coriander and lime.
The very trendy C/Parlament is arguably the best street in Barcelona to discover that the classic salad of lettuce, tomato and onion has been successfully, and (let’s be honest) happily, substituted by more creative and imaginative offerings using ingredients sourced from elsewhere. This is clearly demonstrated by the range of dishes at this informal venue – which also specialises in juices – such as Caribbean tabbouleh (with hemp seeds, mint, coriander, avocado and palm hearts), and the quinoa salad with sweet potato, pear, blueberries, spinach and goat’s cheese.