Barcelona

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On the verge of becoming Europe’s theme park for tourists, the places for original dining and unique experiences are becoming scarce. Look no further than a decade ago, and you would find yourself a Barcelona that was a haven for anything new and interesting booming on the European scene. What was a city full of potential turned into something else with the financial crisis around 2008, resulting in cafés and eateries targeting the ever-growing tourist masses with cheap produce and little sophistication. But there’s always some diamonds in the rough in every city. The fact that these jewels are even harder to find in the Catalan capital makes this city guide so important to make. Here are our favorite picks.

barcelona-city-guide-la-pubilla-restaurant


Plaça de la Llibertat, 23, 08012

Open every day except Sundays.
Week days 08:30am-11:30pm
Saturdays 09:00am-11:30pm

Walking through many parts of Barcelona it’s hard not to notice the queues at generic bars and cafés filled up with tourists. Serving cheap menú del día; a daily three course menu that usually consist of plates filled up with lettuce sold as catalan salads, accompanied by some sort of meat or fish, supermarket deserts (sometimes they don’t even bother taking it out of the container) and a reused bottle of chilled red wine – all for 14.50 euros.

Therefore it’s rare to find a place that serves you good honest food for this affordable price, and La Pubilla is one of these places. Tucked away in Gràcia, La Pubilla is one of the absolute gems of Barcelona when it comes to food, and it has become our go-to place for a menú del día.

The menu changes every day based on what Chef Alexis Peñalver stumbles upon at the market that morning. The dishes are completely unpretentious, yet intricate with amazing flavors. You can get the best croquettes in all of Barcelona at La Pubilla with Bodega Montferry coming at a close second.

Another thing that we love about this place is the atmosphere. The fact that only locals know about this place is enchanting. The small minimal space gets filled with the locals at lunch and dinner time, and the fast, friendly and sometimes chaotic atmosphere makes it a magical experience to be there.

barcelona-city-guide-macba

 

Plaça dels Àngels, 1 08001

Open every day except Tuedays.
Weekdays 11 am – 7:30pm
Saturday 10 am – 9 pm
Sundays and holidays 10 am – 3 pm

Looking through the walls of the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art we can’t stop thinking about the correspondence between Victor Erice and Abbas Kiarostami that was initially displayed in the MACBA back in 2007.

Through the collection and exhibition programs like the one between the phenomenal filmmakers, MACBA has been constructing a critical memory of art in the second half of the twentieth century. They are dedicated to collecting and preserving contemporary art masterpieces from around the world.

The building itself sure is a treat. Architect Richard Meier made the Modernism-inspired museum and revived the Raval neighborhood with this minimal colossus in white. Inside, the wide halls are intertwined with long hallways that cascade through the building, while the imperial, green glass that covers the building displays Barcelonan street skaters from the inside, looking out.

If the ever art-connoisseur, or just in the mood to relax and gaze at some skaters in the sun, the MACBA sure is a must-go for anyone visiting the Catalan capital.

 

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Carrer de l’Hospital, 78, 08001

   Open every day except Tuesdays.
Week days 01:00pm-12:00am
Weekends 01:00pm-01:00am

In Barcelona, which is a snarl of quick-served and covetous food establishments, the task of finding proper jewels can be hard. Exhausting your funds for a suitable meal has been the misfortunate standard for years in the Catalan capital. But with the emergence of small establishments, the city is finally starting to take advantage of its rich culinary traditions by offering honest food in a simple manner.

Stepping in from the sideline, but fearlessly taking up the baton, is the newly opened A Tu Bola. The influx of foreigners opening new eateries in Barcelona has become evident with places like Toto and Bacoa, adding a necessary injection of newly introduced concepts to the city. The Israeli women behind A Tu Bola do exactly that in the neighborhood of Raval. Taking an old, generic kebab place and transforming it to almost a hub for gourmet street food in Barcelona is a brave initiative that demands respect. And the food does it justice.

We went there at nighttime to find a petite eatery with an open kitchen serving as the epicenter of the trademark “bolas” they specialize in. There you can find Chef Shira working her craft, diffusing her love for good food. At her recommendation, we tried the hummus plate and two individual “bolas” with local beer Almogáver Blat and Belgium-brewed Maredsous. A wheat ale beer goes along with any gourmet street food dishes, so the choice was ideal. The food was prepared on the spot on the open kitchen, with the ingredients visible to the eye – an important detail neglected by most restaurants. Fresh and tasty without being pompous, a meal at A Tu Bola delivers honest gourmet street food in Barcelona for a modest price at a spot with a lot of soul. An emerging eatery in the middle of Raval – make this a go-to spot on your route through the emblematic Barcelonan neighborhood.

barcelona-city-guide-lukumas

 

Torrent de l’Olla 169, 08012, Gràcia

Monday to Friday 9 am – 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Saturday 9 am – 1:30 pm

The story of Lukumás goes back to 1992. Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the Greek region of Macedonia, was the spot where Theo and his wife Vasiliki decided to set up a distribution of bakery products, that ultimately led to the opening of a bakery in its own right.

Years later, their son Petros decided to continue their family legacy in Barcelona, introducing the Catalan people to lukumás, the Greek version of donuts. Something of a street delicatessen you can acquire by ambulant sellers in Greece can now be found in two spots in the Catalan capital: the eclectic neighborhood of Gracia, where it all started, and the resurging neighborhood of Raval.

Choose from the traditional lukumás made of fermented and fried dough, or try your hands at the strogylo, made with the same technique, but altogether round. Both come equipped with delicious fillings. If you are out for a wee taste you can get the little brother lukumaki, or if you crave something serious, feast on an ekler, a double-sized lukumás strictly reserved for the brave ones.

The interior of the restaurant has a long, communal wooden table, with beautiful illustrations and checkered background. A new kind of Mediterranean goodie for foodies to try out, Lukumás will definitely put a smile on your face.

All photos/Written by Maryam Aalami and Fernando López in City Guides

Barcelona was last modified: September 27th, 2015 by Fernando Nikolić