Once considered the seedier side of Barcelona, El Raval today is a vibrant, multicultural neighbourhood with much to offer locals and visitors. The area is home to a great number of restaurants which reflect the diversity of its population, including some popular Indian, Pakistani, Chinese and Thai restaurants. Here are some of the best.
Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
This was the first restaurant to introduce the concept of Japanese skewer barbecue, or sumibiyaki to Barcelona. The stylish dining room is decorated in a traditional fashion and each table has at its centre a charcoal barbecue. Guests order a selection of dishes, some of which are raw and are then cooked by diners at their table. The menu includes a selection of meats and fish, including tender wagyu beef and locally-caught prawns.
Not your typical Asian restaurant, Dos Palillos – meaning ‘two sticks’, or chopsticks in Spanish – is a Spanish/Asian fusion restaurant with a Michelin star. The restaurant was created by a former elBulli chef – five times voted best restaurant in the world – who has decided to turn his hand to creative Asian-inspired cuisine. In the stylish back room diners are offered a tasting menu, while in the front there’s a more casual dining area at the bar where you can go à la carte.
Located not far from the Plaça de Catalunya, Majide is a fine-dining sushi restaurant owned by the same team behind Koy Shunka, a Michelin-star Japanese restaurant. At Majide the focus is on sushi, which is all made fresh on demand by chefs working in an open kitchen. The spacious dining room offers a number of tables, but some of the best seats are at the counter facing the kitchen.
El Raval is known to be home to a large Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi community, which has resulted in this being one of the best neighbourhoods for South Asian-style curry. Maharaja is a traditional Indian restaurant that serves a choice of authentic curries, including tandoori oven specialities. They have options for vegetarians as well and are only too happy to adapt the level of spiciness of their dishes.
This brightly-decorated restaurant serves Vietnamese-inspired dishes and rather exotic cocktails. The menu isn’t particularly long or complicated, but offers a choice of Vietnamese-style salads, pho soup, bun noodle dishes and a handful of other dishes such as stir-fried rice and Vietnamese curry. The funky décor, with colourful lanterns and pictures on the wall, adds to the fun, laid-back atmosphere.
Another of the top curry houses in El Raval, Shalimar is a cozy and casual Pakistani restaurant. The place soon fills up as locals – both Pakistani and Spanish – frequent the eatery often. Prices are reasonable, with a curry starting from just €7.50 (around US$9) and €1.50 (under US$2) for a beer. The restaurant is popular at lunchtimes during the week when workers come for a hearty homemade lunch.
Located just round the corner from the newly reopened Sant Antoni food market, Bouzu is a down-to-earth Japanese restaurant. They serve a variety of traditional Japanese dishes offered in tapas-style portions that are ideal for sharing. The dining room is simple but feels authentic, and considering the prices at Bouzu are surprisingly affordable this is a solid choice for a casual Japanese food fix.