Food is awesome, and I try to eat as much of it as possible, every day. Barcelona has some great places to do this—though it must be said, my diet is mostly comprised of the eight or nine varieties of Rana brand ravioli (as my friend Alejandro says, “You can’t go wrong with Rana!”). This should give you an idea of the sort of budget I’m on; ergo, the places listed beneath are not all haute cuisine… but you do get a good meal.
- Burgers are big in Barcelona—if not size-wise, necessarily, then certainly in terms of popularity—especially the so-called “gourmet” kind, and it seems as if there’s a new place popping up every week, staking its claim as the home of the best beef-patty in town. Pim-Pam, Kiosko and Santos—all in the Born district—always attract a steady stream of carnivorous customers, but for me, Makamaka, located at the top of Passeig de Joan Borbó on the edge of Barceloneta, is the pick of the bunch. Not least because of the superbly-named Maradona burger. Oh, and the French fries—or as we Brits call them, “chips”—which are the bomb-shizzle. The restaurant itself has an Aussie surf-shack vibe, and the waitresses—of which there are approximately twenty working at any given time—are all kinda moody and bad-ass, but the food itself seldom disappoints.
- Brunch is pretty much my favourite word in the English language. I know for many readers it conjures up images of bearded hipsters in pork-pie hats and sunglasses, hunched over their Mac Airs while they pick at an egg-white and kale omelette (and nowhere is this truer than in Barcelona) but since I tend to eat at least five times a day, where to take this meal is a key consideration. Milk, in the Gothic Quarter, and its sister restaurant, Marmalade, in the Raval, are both worth a visit, and like most of these joints they serve alcohol, so you can also grab a casual mojito to go with your eggs, should you feel the need. Federal Café, in the Eixample, is also pretty good, but my personal recommendation is Picnic, on the corner of Carrer del Comerç. It’s a tad pricey, and the portions aren’t huge, but the quinoa croquettes, the fried green tomatoes and the pancakes—oh, the pancakes!—are all magnifique… *Pinches forefinger and thumb together and kisses them dramatically*.
- On a street named Carrer del Rec Comtal in the Born, you’ll find Elsa Y Fred. Not the old couple from the movie of the same name, but the cute little Gastrobar named after said film. Aside from calling itself a Gastrobar, which I admit is a bit wanky, this is a great place to go in the afternoon as they do a great selection of homemade cakes and ‘cocas’—a Catalan open sandwich, one of which comes loaded with slices of roast beef, onion chutney and, um, Fred’s “special sauce”. Dee-lish. It’s also next door to a mighty fine sushi restaurant named Nakashita. And I love sushi.
- Ale & Hop is not a place to go for food, exactly, and actually, I don’t even like it all that much after the time I waited nearly twenty minutes for the weasely-looking bar-tender, who was doing FUCK ALL ELSE, aside from chatting to his mates, wiping down the bar, and completely ignoring me while I stood right in front of him waving a crisp twenty Euro note… Anyway, it’s a micro-brewery that also does good veggie food, apparently.
- Whilst you never have to go too far for tapas in this town, the beachside barrio of Barceloneta, which, back in the day, was home to the local fishing community, is definitely worth a wander if you want to taste the best. For me, it’s always a toss-up between Jaica (pronounced “Hy-kah”) and La Bombeta—the latter of which carries a notice inside that roughly translates as: “We don’t speak English, but we do fucking good food”—but both are always rammed with both locals and clued-up tourists, so queuing is usual. The wait is worth it though, whether you want fried calamari drenched in lemon juice, or grilled sardines, or those shrivelled green peppers covered in huge white crystals of sea salt, or bunyols de bacala, or sliced octopus Galician style… well, it’s all good. Wash it down with a couple of cervezas grandes and you’ll start to think you might just have to move here…
- Okay, so I’m sort of cheating by adding a sixth place to this list, but seeing as number four didn’t really count, there’s definitely room for one more here. Cupcakes are almost as big as burgers in Barcelona, and though I’m with Charlie Brooker on the whole issue, I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of a place in the Gothic Quarter called Sweet Dreams—though the main reason is the homemade bagel selection they offer. Seriously. They are to die for. Dayana, who runs this little place with her partner Arturo, serves them open-faced, loaded with the finest ingredients, including smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill. Moreover, both Arturo and Dayana are among the nicest, most patient people you could ever hope to meet—even after two years of answering the same inane questions from unenlightened tourists. And in a city where the service is often depressingly impersonal and mind-bendingly slow, that means a lot.