There's a saying in Spanish that translates roughly to 'Small house, big heart', and the owners of Casa Xica (which means Small House in Catalan), Marc and Raquel must have very big hearts indeed Following an intense period living in China and some delicious and difficult life experiences together, the couple got married and set up this little jewel of an eatery with a bit of help from a third party, Esteve Puertas, a childhood friend and a professional in the world of good service.Marc and Raquel's long trips in search of flavours and palate pleasers you see on the menu in Casa Xica serve as a passport for your taste buds that you can use to explore without leaving your chair in Poble-sec. The easiest way to describe what they do is to call it fusion cooking. But that term has become so overused, and in their case it's more of a compilation of tastes they've learned in faraway lands with their own touch added to tempt even the fussiest of diners.
A decade back, an old neighbourhood pork shop transformed into this eatery with a modernist aesthetic, old photos on the walls and small, softly lit spaces. After a good dinner of select cured meats, cheeses, fondue, salad, and plenty of wine, you'll only be able to think of one way to burn off all those calories. They've got dishes that can raise the dead, so you know Recasens will spark more than one flame.
When we think of why Bohèmic has become a top restaurant, it’s got to be because of their intention to revive the bistro of yesteryear and bring back dishes that seemed destined to fall by the culinary wayside. There’s an art nouveau air about the place, dishes are presented in their own hot casserole dish, and they show off a mouth-watering cheese trolley. It’s a neighbourhood restaurant that’s intimate yet still professional, and that first-timers are sure to enjoy as much as veteran regulars.
This is one of the few Barcelona Noucentisme (early-20th-century Catalan movement that started as a reaction against Modernisme) buildings where you’re welcome all day. Fragments Cafè owes its good taste, perfectionism, and knowledge to Ricardo Feriche and Juliet Pomés, who spend a lot of time searching for spaces where people can relax and enjoy themselves. In this spirit they set up this delightful place, perfect for bon vivants, where their lighting work stands out – with the warmth of the natural light by day and the just-the-right tone at night.
Gut is a very attractive restaurant, with its pristine white furnishings and venerable wooden chairs. It's a small, elongated space, but thanks to the lighting they have made the most of it. They serve breakfast, lunch (a special menu at a very good price), dinner and drinks. Their modest menu offers a fusion of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, with dishes such as prawn and mango curry and the delectable mushroom and foie brick. The place is always packed, which, in these days of counting one's pennies, is really saying something.
Imagine a cross between a Woody Allen movie about a dinner and Cuban cuisine. The Gurqui is one of those mezzanines so typical of the Eixample, and is imaginatively decorated as if it were a house dotted with antique furniture. A cosy, unusual venue that only opens at night and is perfect for relaxed conversation over delicious food – whch is among the finest you’ll come across so late at night in Barcelona. The kitchen officially closes at midnight, but if you book ahead they’ll stay open longer.
Au Nom de la Rose has managed to make roses a part of our daily lives, rather than saving them for special occasions – it’s as if you were living in Paris. At their two locations (in C/Ganduxer, 26, and C/Valencia, 203) you can get anything from a single rose to sophisticated bouquets, like the aromatic roses of Kenya or the roses of Piaget. They also sell jams and sweets with a rose fragrance and scented candles.
Flowers, while beautiful on their own, can also be an art form, and at Dadaflor they decided to explore that. In the hands of artist-florist Marta Arnau, this space functions as a shop for all types of flowers – natural, dried, fabric and plastic – and as an art gallery where flowers, mixed with other materials, are used in creative and daring ways. And now you know the origins of the shop's name.
An old meter box factory now filled with beautiful flora, this is truly a treasure of the Sants neighbourhood. As always, you can go to Hivernacle for all your indoor and outdoor gardening needs: plants, seeds, soil, tools and accessories. But what's new is that now they also rent urban garden allotments to measure. If you lack space at home to grow your own lettuce, you can always take a walk to Hivernacle to get in touch with your wild side.
La Rambla de les Flors has maintained the spirit of the 19th century, when La Rambla was the only place in Barcelona where flowers were sold. You’ll find hundred-year-old stands, like Flors María, that probably inspired the excursions of Ramon Casas and Jose María de Sagarra, as well as other colourful shops that freshen up their look with the changing of the season. In April, the 15 flower stands are painted red to celebrate the tradition of buying roses on La Rambla for Sant Jordi.
At this small florist’s in Rambla Catalunya, they truly appreciate tradition. Maria Ponsà is the latest in a long line of family of florists who worked for the Spanish kings Alfonso XII and Alfonso XIII. If you need advice on your garden, you’re intrigued by the art of Ikebana or you’re looking for a natural yet original arrangement, you’ll find inspiration in the displays at Maria Ponsà’s shop.
Arrangements and quiet corners that inspire lush green interiors and party bouquets are Jordi Ferran’s specialties. Ferran makes personalised creations at his shop in the Eixample. For Sant Jordi, you’ll always find a perfectly blossoming red rose with the traditional spike and Catalan flag.
Javier Manjarrés’ roses are not your typical long-stemmed reds. They’re beautiful, yes, but more in the way that poetry, history and art are beautiful; they smell of old parchment. And you can read. These particular roses are made from paper found in the back room of a pharmacy in C/Carme, the stem is decorated with recycled dowel rods from Roman blinds and attached to the petals with old silk thread. If you’re looking for a rose that will never wilt, you’ll find it in this shop in the Raval.
Satisfy both your sweet tooth and your taste for nostalgia at this traditional chocolate shop where the chocolates are the product of maestro Michel Laline. His are artisanal creations in the form of strips you can gulp down, chunky bars in an array of flavours and of course, for the more traditional, the good old bonbon.
Corsets are back in fashion, and for that we have Bibian Blue to thank (or blame). The designer started the brand in 2000, and not long after that models took to the catwalk in her creations, and she was dressing stars such as Lady Gaga. What came next was that her atelier became the benchmark for aficionados of fetish, burlesque and pin-up fashion, and for those seeking initiation into the world of the corset.
The latest trends for the modern man, right on the line that runs between the classic and the innovative. This is The Outpost, a shop that has become a point of reference for men who like brands such as Maison Martin Margiela, Neil Barret for Palladium shoes and Maquedano hats. If you want to do some fun and no-pressure shopping, you've come to the right place.
Eliana Sabater's handcrafted soaps showcase the work of the third generation of an Argentinean lineage with Mallorcan origins that has found the art in soap and made it a family business. They have around 30 scents that to spice up our skin: from the classics such as jasmine and rose to the more modern melon, violet and chocolate. You can also wash your hands with soap petals, Gaudí tiles made of soap and even a bar with a hidden message. There is no limit to the imagination of these artisans of soap.
Beneath the shop sign saying 'Novedades Perfumería' you will actually find Satan Cafè Corner, and can try a coffee served by Marcos, the owner of this showroom of new coffee-related products. And entering the delightful Grey Street gift shop you will find vintage paper alongside pottery from Grenada, Ask Alice notebooks, Bonitas del Norte clothing, jewellery, cut-offs of colourful clothing, fridge magnets, photographs and lithographs, at prices starting from one euro.
Santa Eulalia has set the standard for fashion in Barcelona, with four generations of experience dedicated to haute couture, tailoring and prêt-á-porter. All the big brands are here: Lanvin, Balenciaga, Céline, Michael Kors, Neil Barret and Rodarte. You'll also find names that occasionally exhibit in the pop-up store of a shop where luxury dominates and where they've been making dresses to order since 1843.