Brunch is a concept that’s only now gaining popularity in Spain, and while it may be a trendy must-have on menus in the bigger cities of Barcelona and Madrid, in smaller locales such as Girona, you’ll only find a couple of specialised places that offer it. Breakfasts here are usually quick and simple and rarely feature anything such as cooked eggs or pancakes. A typical Catalan breakfast would be a mini baguette with various fillings, a toasted ham and cheese sandwich (bikini) or some type of pastry (usually a croissant), paired with a coffee. That being said, there are a number of great cafes here where you can get all of the above.
Cafe, Restaurant, European, $$$
One of the few proper brunch places in town, La Fabrica has made quite a name for itself. Hidden down a tiny alleyway in a cobbled courtyard you’ll find a range of cute chairs and tables topped with fresh flowers. Inside, the atmosphere is urban and industrial with bare brick walls, metal and wooden furniture. Owned by an ex-professional cyclist, the café also has a strong cycling theme with old bicycles posed along the walls. La Fabrica pride themselves on their excellent organic coffee, which pairs well with trendy, healthy brunch options such as avocado on toast; homemade bread topped with roasted almond butter, bananas, toasted coconut and maple syrup; and chia seed pudding.
Restaurant, French, $$$
More of a lunch place really as it only opens at 12:30pm, this traditional French-style crêpe house could definitely make a great brunch spot for late risers. Its dark and quirky interior is filled with odd curios, knick-knacks and parts of old vehicles. There is a full-sized camper van in the entryway, and the toilets are constructed from vintage bus parts. They serve up classic French buckwheat sarrasin crepes filled with all manner of ingredients, from goat’s cheese, honey and walnuts to asparagus and salmon, and there’s even a breakfast crêpe filled with eggs and bacon.
Cafe, Bar, Spanish, $$$
This cute cafe, known as ‘The Pinch’ in English, is set on Plaça Catalunya and serves a delectable array of homemade pastries, including chocolate and almond-filled croissants, apple tarts, palmeras (crispy hearts made from pastry) and Catalan cocas (flat breads which can be sweet or savoury). They also offer good coffee, juices, and a range of filled baguettes if you prefer something more savoury.
Cafe, Coffee Shop, Contemporary, Coffee, $$$
The second of Girona’s more traditional brunch spots is Federal Café, a sister establishment of the popular chain that stretches from Barcelona to Madrid and Valencia. The concept for this micro-chain of eateries comes from the hip brunch locales found across Australia and New Zealand, and is named after the small town halfway between Possum Creek and Goonengerry in Northern New South Wales. Think porridge with apple compote and date butter, eggs benedict or royale, English crumpets with jam and clotted cream, and poached eggs with avocado. They also serve delicious homemade cakes and coffee if you need a late afternoon pick-me-up.
Cafe, Spanish, $$$
This small café, located in the historic centre of town, specialises in hot chocolate and could make an excellent breakfast spot on a crisp winter morning. Their signature drink is what the Spanish call ‘Swiss hot chocolate’, much thinner than the regular hot chocolate you have with churros, and topped with plenty of whipped cream. Order your hot chocolate with melindros (typical Spanish soft cookies similar to lady finger biscuits).
Bakery, Pastry Shop, Spanish
One of the best bakeries in the city, this place is an ideal spot for indulging in delectable Spanish pastries and other baked goods. In fact, Casamoner is so popular they now count a handful of sister locations around town. Choose to sit in or take your paper bag and cup of coffee away to enjoy breakfast on one of the sunny plazas. While they specialise in organic, artisanal breads of different types and flavours, here you can also enjoy cakes, tarts, quiches and savoury cocas (large flat breads that can be sweet or savoury and topped with vegetables).
Cafe, Juice Bar, Spanish
Situated on the charming Plaça de la Independènçia, surrounded by graceful arches and elegant Catalan architecture, this is the perfect place to watch the world go by. The breakfasts are typical Catalan style, e.g. either a small filled sandwich or baguette or pasty paired with a cup of coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. They also do great coffee art such as intricate flowers, which isn’t often seen in Spain.
Cafe, Bar, Spanish, $$$
Located right at the bottom of the steps leading up to Girona Cathedral, it’s the location that makes this place special, rather than its breakfast options. Stop for a cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and a croissant to admire the views, which should give you more than enough energy to climb the 91 stone steps to the top.
Cafe, European, $$$
Occupying a lovely spot along the River Onyar, with its scenery of colourful houses perched along the banks, this place certainly is exquisite. Although they do have the typical Catalan sandwiches and croissants for breakfast, it’s their fluffy American-style pancakes topped with chocolate sauce, fruit or dulce de leche (a sweet caramel-like sauce) that set them apart. They also serve a range of delicious and festive-looking cupcakes.
If you’re after a true Catalan café experience in Girona, you can’t do better than Xocolateria l’Antiga, which has been located on the same spot for the last 100 years. Sit at old marble-top tables with elegant iron legs and enjoy thick Spanish hot chocolate with dipping-friendly melindros (Spanish soft biscuits). They also have sweet cocas and croissants, but unfortunately no churros.