Located just next to Barcelona’s famous Gothic Quarter, El Born is a trendy neighbourhood well known for its more laid-back atmosphere, late-night cocktail bars and designer boutiques. It’s also a popular place to eat out, both among locals and travellers, and there are some fantastic restaurants to choose from. Here’s our pick of where you’ll find the best places for a tasty Spanish paella in this iconic part of Barcelona.
Located not far from the Modernist Palau de la Música, Ca L’Andreu is a casual Catalan restaurant offering affordably priced home-cooked fare. While the dishes lack the finesse of a gourmet restaurant, there’s a noticeable effort in presentation and a sense of care which comes with a family-run business. Starting at just €13 per person for a seafood paella, their rice dishes hit the spot, and the traditional seafood fideuà – a type of noodle paella traditional in the area – is particularly worth trying.
Not only is 7 Portes considered one of the best paella restaurants in El Born, it’s considered one of the best in Barcelona. This culinary institution has been on the go since the late 1900s, when it opened as a café and was frequented by everyone from local politicians to poets. The dining room conserves much of the style and splendour of its early days and locals still come to eat here with their families for special occasions.
Bearing the tagline ‘the house of good living’, Casa Nova is a lively neighbourhood eatery located on the Passeig del Born, the Born’s main street, and is the kind of place locals like to grab a few tapas with friends in an evening. The kitchen serves a selection of home-cooked dishes made to order. While they don’t lay claim to specialising in paella, theirs is good and it’s a sound option if you want to have a varied meal that combines paella and other tasty dishes.
This neighbourhood gem is appreciated by locals for its well-priced Catalan cuisine, which includes traditional specialities such as stuffed cannelloni, slow-cooked beef cheeks, botifarra (a type of local sausage) and of course paella. The latter is available in three kinds: meat, fish and a vegetarian kind – the meat paella is the most delectable. Nou Celler also offers a lunchtime menu during the week and a slightly more expensive yet nonetheless reasonable menu at weekends.
This well-known Barcelona restaurant is located just opposite the former El Born market that has recently been turned into a cultural centre and archeological wonder. The kitchen serves a selection of Spanish and Catalan dishes as well as more contemporary and fusion bites. The seafood paella is well garnished with prawns, crayfish, clams and other morsels while the house speciality is a rich lobster broth that is much saucier than a paella but equally good in this instance.
Walk inside La Gambeta and you’ll immediately notice the cosy dining room with its red-brick walls and white tablecloths that make it ideal for a romantic dinner. As its name indicates – La Gambeta means ‘the little shrimp’ – the kitchen specialises in fish and seafood, which is exactly what you’ll find in their paella. The seafood paella comes topped with large prawns and cooked to order – as it should be – while the lobster rice dish comes with large chunks of tender lobster.
Located in the same building as the Santa Caterina food market, the Cuines Santa Caterina is not your ordinary market restaurant. The menu is presented as a sort of table, on one side of which are types of ingredient (meat, fish, vegetables, pasta and so on) and on the other types of cuisine (Mediterranean, vegetarian, international and the like.). While such a diverse menu could be something to worry about in certain restaurants, it’s well executed here.