The Best Catalan Restaurants in El Poble Sec

A traditional Crema Catalana © Moritz Barcelona
A traditional Crema Catalana © Moritz Barcelona
Photo of Tara Jessop
13 June 2018

A rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood home to an eclectic mix of residents, Poble Sec was once a humble working class area. These days it’s something of a foodie hotspot, thanks to a growing number of trendy eateries bumping shoulders with old-school restaurants and bodegas. Here are some of the best places to try traditional Catalan fare in Poble Sec.

El Sortidor

Restaurant, Spanish, Tapas, $$$
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Located on a pleasantly buzzing square in the heart of Poble Sec, El Sortidor opened its doors in 1908 and is actually one of the oldest restaurants in Barcelona. Its iconic stained glass windows and wooden doors are original features of its early 20th century Modernist design. Food-wise, the menu reads like a traditional Catalan restaurant but the dishes, like the décor have all been given a modern breath of fresh air. Their carefully presented dishes look all the nicer against the vintage marble-top tables – just check out their Instagram account if you don’t believe us.

Can Margarit

Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
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Artichokes cooked on the grill © Joselu Blanco
Artichokes cooked on the grill | © Joselu Blanco / Flickr
One of those wonderfully unique restaurants you’re likely to remember, Can Margarit is a Poble Sec institution. Step through the door and you’ll first be given a glass and invited to pour yourself some local wine. The cavernous dining room is akin to a cellar with its giant wooden barrels lining the windowless walls and large wooden tables dotted around, seemingly at random. The menu is straightforward and unpretentious with dishes such as grilled local sausage or botifarra, pork ribs, snails in sauce or the popular rabbit with garlic. Open only at night, you’ll be lucky to get a table without booking.

La Tomaquera

Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
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There’s no point looking, you’ll find no website and no telephone number for this Poble Sec institution. It’s checkered red and white table cloths are evocative of an unpretentious French bistro and in fact it’s in some ways akin to a Catalan version of the famous Bouchon restaurants of Lyon: generous servings of meat-heavy local dishes of which the snails are by far the most popular. Aside from that, anything cooked on the large open-fire grill which dominates the kitchen – a corner of the dining room itself – is a good place to start.

Quimet & Quimet

Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
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Quimet & Quimet
Quimet & Quimet | © Kent Wang / Flickr

Wander down the backstreets of Poble Sec and you’re more than likely to stumble across the queue outside Quimet & Quimet. This tiny bar specialises in a type of dish known as montaditos which consist of slices of bread topped with different ingredients such as smoked salmon, cream cheese and honey. There’s no seating at Quimet & Quimet and you’ll have to be prepared to brush up against a few shoulders to get your place at the bar, but it’s worth it.

La Bodegueta del Poble Sec

Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
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Located on one of Poble Sec’s busiest streets, Carrer de Blai, La Bodegueta del Poble Sec is one of the few establishments on the street not selling pintxos – Basque Country-style tapas. A rustic looking affair with old wooden cupboards decorated with various trinkets, dusty ceramic pots and traditional porrones (a type of glass jug used for pouring wine straight into the mouth). The menu reads like the usual selection of meats and vegetables cooked over the brasa or grill, often served with romesco sauce (a local speciality made with roast peppers and nuts). The homemade canelones or stuffed pasta with creamy béchamel sauce are worth trying.

Restaurant Martínez

Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
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The Terraza Martinez
The Terraza Martinez | © Jorge Franganillo / Flickr

Not located within Poble Sec as such, but rather perched on the cliff face of Montjuïc, overlooking the sea, Restaurant Martínez is a trendy eatery with a large outdoor terrace open all year round. A buzzing place where the staff look as smart as the diners, Martínez has a wide selection of fish and seafood on offer, as well as a wide range of rice dishes, including paella, arroz caldoso (stewed rice) and rice cooked in squid ink. When booking, request a table with a view and you won’t be disappointed.

Restaurant La Perla BCN

Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
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Located in the heights of Poble Sec, on the Paseo de l’Exposició, La Perla is an unpretentious neighbourhood restaurant which takes great pride in its home cooking. Expect to find classic Catalan and Spanish dishes cooked and presented the good old fashioned way, with care but no fuss. Hearty dishes – such as local botifarra sausage with broad beans, or the suquet fish soup – are usually the best but leave room for the home made puddings too.