Entertainment in Barcelona


Pubs, Cafes and Restaurants in Barcelona


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Barcelona offers flavorful cuisine unique to the area. Catalan flavor can be found on the street up to the most upscale restaurants in the city. Eating out is a social activity, to be leisurely enjoyed. Look for places off the beaten path for the best in Barcelona dining and to mingle with the locals. An indicator of a place oriented more to the tourist trade is the presence of touts. Once you have found the perfect place, slow down, relax, and enjoy your meal.

Drink

Drinking is about pleasure for Spaniards. Alcohol tends to accompany meals, with a plethora of local options.

Beer - The Spanish are drinking more and more beer (cerveza), especially the younger crowd. Bars usually have one beer on tap. Most beer in Spain is between 4 and 5.5 percent and are served in small glasses and is served cold. Beers are ordered by glass size:

  • Caña - The smallest beer size, it may be served in a wine glass.
  • Tubo - A tall thin glass of about 10oz.
  • Botella de cerveza - A 10oz bottle of beer.
  • Bottelin de cerveza - A smaller, 6oz bottle of beer. Not available in all bars.
  • Jarra or Tanque - Usually the largest glass, about a pint.
There are a few microbreweries and can be found by a sign listing "fabrica de cerveza" (beer factory).
Internationla beers are commonly served, but the most commonly served domestic beers are Standard San Miguel and Cruzcampo. They are not very highly respected. Other options in dark beer include: Amstel Oro, Mahou Negra, Alhambra Negra, Bock Damm, Voll Damm and San Miguel Nostrum.

Wine - Spain is an important country in world wine production and consumption. Wine is served daily at the large midday meal, as well as at dinner. ost wines named in reference to the region they are from such as Vinos de La Rioja, Wines from La Rioja. Catalan wines are less world-renowned than some other Spanish wines, but are among Spain's best. The Tarragona province's dark red Priorat is the most notable. It is acceptable for many families to allow teenagers to be served a weak mix of wine and gaseosa or sparkling water. Vermuth al grifo is a wine served with herbs and delivered in small barrels with aerated water.
Cava refers to Spanish Sparkling Wine. There are different brands including Raimat, Freixenet and Codorniu.
Sangria is a red-wine punch that combines wine with oranges, lemons, gaseosa (seltzer), and sugar. This drink can be concocted in many different ways and each restaurant or family tends to have their own way to make it.

Non-Alcoholic - Water is safe to drink in Barcelona, but many people prefer the taste of mineral water. Available everywhere, Bubbly water is known as agua con gas and non-carbonated is agua sin gas. Vichy Catalan is slightly salty carbonated water that locals may drink as a digestive.
Soft drinks are also popular, and standard like Fanta and Coca-Cola. There is also orxata which is manufactured with the juice of chufa, a kind of papyrus.
Coffee is regularly drunk at breakfast or after your meal and is usually high quality and strong. After a large lunch or dinner a carajillo- coffee containing a dash of cognac- may finish the meal.

Liquor Laws

The official drinking age 18 years old. However, the law is not thoroughly enforced.

Bars

London Bar (Nou de la Rambla 34) - More than a traditional pub, the London Bar was opened in 1910. Once frequented by Dali, Picasso and Hemingway, the decor remains the same as it has for decades.

Nevermind - Early-90’s American-rock nostalgia is alive in this bar.

Miramelinda (Passeig del Born 15, 08003) - In a trendy area, and is well known by locals and tourists. The large bar is two levels.

Dry Martini - A swanky, expensive bar that caters to the rich and famous. A huge wine cellar and good cigar selection adds to it's allure.

Zahara - Located just off the beach, an outdoor terrace makes this the perfect place to watch the crowds over some cocktails. Also has the novelty of ordering drinks over the phone set on the seats!

Muy Buenas - Authentic Raval bar run by Cuban staff serving South American and Arabic bites and drinks. An elegant, Art Nouveau backdrop sets the mood in this low-key bar.

Barroc - One of the most popular bars, the bar offers a great place to have some drinks before the whole place turns into a dance club.

Chupitos - There are several locations throughout the country, including one in Barceloneta. Spanish for "shots", the bar offers hundreds of unique shots like the "Harry Potter" (a shot that sparks as cinnamon is sprinkled over it).

Bar Tequila (C/ Escudellers, 28, 08002 Barcelona, Spain) - A neon red light and heavy metal vintage posters illuminate this dark bar. Personal headphones allow you to choose your own vibe.

Eat

Catalan food is unique from the rest of Spain. The diet is typically Mediterranean with fish, legumes, and vegetables. Pork is also a mainstay, whether it is served as filet, the famous Serrano ham, or delicious embutidos (cold cuts). Also unusual to the rest of the country, there are not as many tapas bars in Barcelona. Catalans prefer raciones (plates of cheese, pâtés, and cured meats).

Barcelona Specialties

Catalonia has many specialties that are unique to the area. The cuisine combines mar i muntanya (sea and mountains), with bold flavors in meaty dishes such as veal and blood sausage, often accompanied by garbanzos (chickpeas), lentejas (lentils), mongetes (white beans), or judias blancas y negras (white and black-eyed beans).

    Entrantes / Starters
  • Pa amb tomaquet - A large slice of fresh country bread (may be toasted) rubbed with tomato and drizzled with virgin olive oil. It may be topped with Iberian ham, cheese and anchovies or served along with meat, chicken or fish a la brasa (cooked over a charcoal fire).
  • Escalivada - Starter of chili peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and a garlic and olive oil sauce
  • Fideua - Catalan vermicelli Paella eaten with Alioli
  • Ensalada Catalana - a salad of lettuce, tomato, onions, and olives can be found practically everywhere.
    Salsas / Sauces
  • Sofregit- Sauce of fried onion, tomato and garlic
  • Samfaina or Chanfaina - Sauce of sofregit plus red pepper and eggplant or courgette
  • Picada - Sauce based on ground almonds, with garlic, parsley, pine or hazel nuts, and sometimes breadcrumbs
  • Alioli - Sauce of pounded garlic with olive oil, often with egg yolk added to make more of a mayonnaise
  • Romesco - Sauce of almond, tomato, olive oil, garlic and vinegar sauce, also used as a salad dressing
    Plato Principal / Main Dishes
  • Esqueixada - Cod mixed with vegetables, such as tomatoes, onions, and sometimes pepper. The tomatoes may be chopped finely or grated. It is dressed with olive oil and is typically eaten during the summer.
  • Escudella i carn d'olla - Catalan stew of botifarra sausage or pieces of meat spiced with peppers. Additionally, beans, potatoes, and cabbage, as other types of meat, can be used.
  • Espinacs a la Catalana - Spinach sautéed with raisins and pine nuts
  • Bacalla a la llauna - Salt cod with tomato, garlic and parsley
  • Zarzuela - Fish stew combines a wide range of Mediterranean fish, from salmonetes (red mullet) and besugo (bream) to mejillones (mussels) and gambas (prawns).
  • Suquet de peix - Rich fish-and-potato stew
  • Mondonguilles amb sipia - Meatballs with cuttlefish
  • Calamares Romana - Deep-fried squid
    Postres / Desserts
  • Crema Catalana - Cinnamon and lemon flavored custard for dessert.
  • La Crema Catalana - Pastry cream covered in crunchy caramel
  • Mel i Mato - Cream cheese and honey

Meal Format

Spaniards tend to eat a light breakfast of toast with jam (often peach) and a cup of coffee, a three-course lunch (menú del dia or lunch of the day), a light snack in the late afternoon, and a light dinner. The times to get a meal may be limited as people tend to come all at one time, with supplies running out or restaurants being closed outside of these periods.
Breakfast at the bakeries starts around 8:00
Lunch usually starts at 13:00 - 15:00.
Dinner does not start before 21:00. Most restaurants will continue serving until midnight.

Beware of the siesta. Less people participate in this practice in Barcelona, but many places still close during the midday break from about 14:00-16:00. Many restaurants are also closed on Sunday and Monday. If you are looking for somewhere to eat while most restaurants are closed, hotel dining rooms are generally open 7 days a week.

Restaurants offer a menu del dia (menu of the day), which usually includes a two course meal (one salad, main dish, a drink, and possibly a dessert). The menu (la carta) begins with starters such as amanides/ensaladas (salads), sopes/sopas (soups) and entremesos/entremeses (hors d'oeuvre's). Be aware that second courses frequently do not come with vegetables.

If you prefer choosing your own meal, ask for restaurants that serve platos combinados. The average price for a meal is €9 to €18. Smoking is not permitted in restaurants.

Areas

Barceloneta - Occupied largely by locals, fish based dishes such as Paella or Arròs negre (Black Rice) are popular. There are a few good tapa places as well.

Plaza Catalunya - Plenty of different restaurant options.

Passeig de Gracia and the Rambla de Catalunya - Large cafes serve the bustling tourist trade. Tends to be more expensive.

Vegetarian Specials & Dining

Vegetarian food is easy to find throughout the Barcelona. There are many restaurants dedicated to vegetarian dining and even some vegan. Do be aware of meat being included in what appears to be a vegetable dish or salad on the menu. If you aren't sure, ask.

  • Maoz - International chain offers several locations and excellent vegan falafel and unlimited salad for around €4.
  • Vegetalia - Organic vegetarian health food store and cafe which sells seitan, tofu, veggie burgers, etc. Pick up meals are available for around 3.20€.
  • Pizza Marzano - Veggie friendly restaurant with vegan friendly cheese.
  • Fresc Co. Ramblas - There are several different branches in Barcelona. Offers a buffet with salads, pizza, pasta, fruit, desserts, tea, coffee.
  • Mosquito - An Asian tapas bar with a frequently changing menu. Many vegetarian dishes with Friday and Saturday offering Japanese food from midnight til 2am.

EasyExpat's FAQ section also has a helpful article on vegetarian dining.

Discounts

Connect Club Discount Card - This discount card offers deals for nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. Cards cost 12 euros and are valid for a year.

Tipping

Cheaper restaurants usually have a service price included in the menu price. It is common practice to leave a few coins or round up to the nearest euro at these establishments or when buying a coffee. More expensive restaurants usually add a 15 percent service charge. If the service was adequate, you can add another 3 to 5 percent tip (propina).

Cafes

    Coffee terms:
  • cafè sol - espresso
  • tallat cortado - espresso with little milk
  • cafè amb llet - more milk that coffee
  • cafè bombó or biberó - with condensed milk
  • cigaló - with brandy or other liquor

Venus Cafe
Address: TC/ Avinyo, 25, Ciutat Vella, 08002, Barcelona
Central location in the Barri Gotic and an active laptop lounger scene. Wifi access.

Mesón del Café
Address: C/ Llibreteria, 16, 08002, Barcelona
In the Barri Gotic, this cafe has been here since 1909. Friendly and professional baristas, go here for great coffee.

La Pallaresa
Address: Carrer Petritxol 11, 08002, Barcelona
Treats like hot chocolate and churros can be found at this old-fashioned cafe.

Dr. Coffee
Address: Carrer de Mandri 64, 08002, Barcelona
On the Calle Mandri, this cafe is run by local roasters Café Saula. Modern decor and excellent coffee.

Cup & Cake Barcelona
Address: Calle Enric Granados 145, Barcelona
Charming cafe of white and wood with delicious treats.

Centeral Cafe
Address: Calle Calvet 3 08021, Barcelona
Located on the busy corner of Travessera de Gracia and calle Calvet there is a cafe with a long, wooden bar.

Fast Food

For meals on the go, there are many options from fast food chains to stands conveniently located on the street.

Kebab - Inexpensive durum and shawarma stands are a great place to have a quick meal. Turkish inspired doner-kebab is about €3.50.

Udon - There are four locations of this inexpensive noodle restaurants. It is inspired by a Japanese chain Udon Ya and serves Japanese inspired cuisine.

Els Pollos de Llull - Specializes in roast chickens to eat in or take away. Open 13:00 to 23:00, and to 1:00 on the weekend.

Fish & Chips Barcelona - Authentic English fish and chips shop that also serves crumpets, haggis, English pies and beer on tap.

Gofras - An unexpected treat in Barcelona are the sweet & savory crepes and waffles.

La Piadina - Italian take away on the Placa de la Virreina (Gracia quartier).

Fast Good - In the Eixample, it is run by a well-known Catalan chef Ferran Adria. A take off of his highly successful El Bulli, this futuristic-looking burger joint, it offers meals for 5.50 euro.

Pizza - Pizza shops are plentiful and you should be able to grab a slice anywhere in the city. Some good options include Pizza Marzano, Take Away Pizza, and Vitali.

Restaurants

Barcelona's dining scene offers international selections, as well as home-grown favorites. Most places are packed on weekends and during the primary dining times so reserve ahead.

El Bulli
Not just one of the best restaurants in Barcelona or Spain, this is one of the best restaurants in the world. Tables are often booked a year in advance and it holds 3 Michelin stars. Inventive, flavorful, beautiful cuisine at a premium price.

Cal Pep
One of the most known tapas restaurant in Barcelona. Everything is fresh with a menu that changes seasonally. Also known for their seafood.

Alkimia
The name means "alchemy" in English and chef Jordi Vila is taking Catalan cuisine to a whole new field. Minimalist decoration offers imaginative food.

Vinya Roel
This restaurant enoteca offers traditional Catalan recipes in combination with a full wide-ranging list of wines. A distinguished restaurant of Barcelona with an authentic environment.

Ca l'Isidre
Catalan cooking is influenced by French cuisine and that inspiration is taken to the next level here. Essential to reserve a table.

Moo
A Michelin starred restaurant, it is located within the Omm hotel. Contemporary style carries traditional Mediterranean food to a modern esthetic. The bar is a place to be seen.

Cuines Santa-Caterina
Located in the Santa-Caterina's market, this restaurant was renovated by top architects Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue of EMBT. This restaurant offers 4 different types of kitchens: Asian, Mediterranean, Italian and vegetarian. Natural surfaces of wood, stone, and Ficus trees decorate the space with an entire wall of shelves bedecked in wine, olive oil, vinegars, and flours. Arrive early for a decadent lunch.

Comerc 24
One of the chicest eateries in town, it offers luxury tapas. Service is excellent for these tiny, delicious plates. Make sure you have a reservation.

Els Pescadors
One of the finest fish restaurants in Barcelona. Located in Poble Nou, it is far from the center.

Escriba
Located right on the sea front it allows for dining on fine paellas, rice dishes, tapas right on the beach excellent.

El Glop
There are three locations serving fantastic Catalan meals for excellent prices.

Balthazar
A slick restaurant in the Eixample at Carrer Rossello 189, this restaurant offers an authentic dining experience with the locals.


Update 19/06/2012

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