Situated in what used to be a publisher’s offices, Semproniana offers a relaxed ambience in which to enjoy excellent food.
One of my all-round favourites — equally good for lunch and dinner.
It’s also one of the family’s favourite spots and often our first choice restaurant when we feel a need for a family celebration.
I can never help smiling whenever I dine here. It’s that kind of place — quirky, arty, fun, and free of pretension.
Salad with figs, feta cheese and a mint vinaigrette
La Singular is one of my favourite restaurants for both lunch and dinner.
Here are several sound reasons why:
Tram-Tram, a family owned, family run restaurant, is an excellent spot for small get-togethers, or, perhaps, a romantic rendezvous, and a good introduction to contemporary Catalan cuisine. It's a small, perfectly formed and tastefully decorated restaurant, with private dining-rooms and a pleasant leafy patio.
Isidre Soler, the chef, (who spent time training with Ferran Adrià at El Bulli before it became internationally known) takes evident, painstaking pride in the preparation and presentation of his exquisite dishes.
Barcelona's restaurants and bars offer a wide and wild variety of cuisines and creative dishes.
Even the most ardent foodie will confess that grazing on tapas and dining in fine restaurants is both wearing on the wallet and bruising on the palate.
When out and about there will come a time when you want something more ordinary… a tasty, light bite.
Well… you could grab a pizza.
And, one of the best places to grab a pizza in Barcelona is Lucania II in Vila de Gràcia.
For less than the average price of a Bikini (grilled ham and cheese sandwich) you can enjoy a delicious, freshly prepared pizza margarita.
20 plus variations — including one of my favourites: minced beef cooked in beer with bacon, plus two or three daily specials.
Nou Can Codina is one of my favourite bars for a beer and a bite.
It’s a favourite with the family too. We have a pet name for the place — No Can Do.
“Shall we do No Can Do?” someone might say. “Yes — let’s do No Can Do.”
And so it goes.
Not so very long ago Can Codina, one of the oldest surviving bars in Gràcia, was a humble, everyday sort of place, serving up run-of-the-mill cheap snacks and meals. It was ok for an occasional coffee or plato combinado when out doing errands. It was a dreary but honest neighbourhood bar which closed its doors roundabout 9pm every night except Sundays, when it wasn’t open at all.
After a scrub-up, a splash of paint, new lighting scheme, amazing menu, and an injection of energy and imagination the place is buzzing most evenings until 11 — and gone midnight on Saturdays.
Gentrified? No, not at all…the food and drink offered here is sensibly priced and well within the range of us ordinary folk.
Because it is now a popular joint plan to spend 10 or 15 minutes at the bar waiting for a table on a Friday or Saturday night.
Simple everyday treats are transformed into tasty, memorable delights. The patates braves (3,90€) here are very good indeed — among the very best braves in the city. And so too are the croquetas and morcilla (black pudding/blood sausage).
Whoever they have working the kitchen they need to tie down with a payrise and a golden handcuffs agreement — otherwise he or she is going to walk, and stamp their goodness on a rival establishment.
The croquetas here are fantastic — full of flavour — probably among the best in the city, and very reasonably priced at 1€. The standard options are: cocido (meat, potato and chickpea mash), merluza y gambes (hake and prawn/shrimp) and bolets (mushroom). However, check out the specials board as they often offer two or three special croquetas such as sípia (cuttlefish) and a wonderfully tasty apple with goat cheese (poma i formatge de cabra) for 1,40€.
The morcilla here is also well worth trying. Moist and packed with flavour — served with a smear of parsley and garlic oil and lightly toasted bread (2,60€).
Barcelona is a culinary capital offering a wide and wild variety of cuisines and creative dishes. However, grazing on tapas and dining in fine restaurants can be both wearing on the wallet and bruising on the palate.
There sometimes comes a time when you just want something more ordinary, a light bite to fill a hole while out and about.
Well, you could try a Bikini.
Yes, Bikini. When wandering around the city you’ll see the word Bikini scrawled on chalkboards outside snack bars. It’s a very popular snack, probably the most popular snack after the ubiquitous patates braves [patatas bravas in castellano].
A Bikini is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.
The name, Bikini, is unique to Barcelona and Catalunya. Try ordering a Bikini outside of Catalunya and you’ll prompt incomprehension, a measure of confusion, and perhaps a little argument; in Spain a Bikini is known as a mixto.
The sandwich, similar to un croque monsieur in France, is said to have been so christened here, in Barcelona, in 1953.
To check out the history of the Bikini GO HERE
There are two food tests for any snack bar in Barcelona — the Braves test and the Bikini test.
Zarajos as served at Morryssom
One of my favourite tapas dishes is Zarajo, braided sheep’s intestines wrapped around a vine branch and usually broiled, though often grilled, sometimes smoked, served hot with a wedge of lemon.
Zarajo is not common in Barcelona — the dish originated in Cuenca, the city in Castilla–La Mancha.
Zarajo go well with a beer, though I recommend you try them with a glass of rough, strong red wine.
Two places which I know serve zarajo are:
- Morryssom’s — one of my favourite lunch restaurants and tapas places — 3,40€.
- Bar L’Amistat, Carrer de Torrijos, 13, in Gràcia — 3,90€.
Zarajo as served at Bar L’Amistat
Some bodegas serve the best little plates and tapas in the city
So, what is a bodega?
At its most simple a bodega is where us locals buy everyday wines from the barrel, and occasional wines, cavas and spirits by the bottle or case. In short, an off-licence, or liquor store, where quality wines are considerably cheaper than in supermarkets, and where you can sample the wines before you buy.
What is a bar bodega?
A bar bodega is a bodega with a bar, serving wines, beers and spirits — and, often, little bites.
As well as serving quality wines at affordable prices you’ll find some bodegas serve the best little plates and tapas in the city — anything from simple olives, cured meats and cheeses, through elaborate montaditos, to epicurean delights such as angulas (elvers) and Russian royal king crab.
What is a bar bodega-restaurante?
A bar bodega restaurante is a bodega with a bar which also serves meals, an example is Bar Bodega Restaurant Gelida.
Not so long back every barrio had maybe eight or more bodegas, where neighbours would meet for gossip over a vermut or a beer as they bought their family ration of booze. As incomes rose and tastes changed, and supermarkets moved in, bodegas fell out of favour or morphed into wine stores.
And now — with owners cashing up and retiring — young savvy owners are taking their place, and with customers looking to save money — bodegas are back.
There are some that have always been around — check out Bodega Montse —a beautifully filthy relic of the 1890s:
And now, in place of the old jug and bottle shops, two distinct types of revamped bodegas are emerging — those positioned to appeal to a more affluent set — offering imported beers and premium brand spirits, where the ambience is more like a wine bar; and those which have retained the look, feel and smells of traditional bodegas which, with the addition of craft beers and exquisite snacks, appeal to a younger, more casual set.
Here are a few traditional though thriving bodegas you may want to check out:
Bar Bodega del Poblet very near the Sagrada Familia.
Bar Bodega Quimet i Quimet in Poble Sec.
Though things are changing, we don’t do ‘cocktail’ sauce and other sweet’n’spicy gloops in Barcelona.
If in a snack bar, or bar-restaurant, and you’ve ordered a burger then your server may bring you tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard automatically. If they don’t, and you want them, ask for them — ketchup [ketch-oop] — mahonesa [my-yon-essa]— mostaza [moh-sta-sa]. Continue Reading…