In the age of Instagram and Tripadvisor, it’s not always easy finding a restaurant everybody already knows about. However there are a few places in Barcelona that have managed to retain a low profile. Here are some of the best secret and overlooked restaurants in Barcelona you should try.
La Cova Fumada
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La Cova Fumada would manage to go pretty much undetected were it not for the long queue of hungry locals gathered at its door every lunchtime. A humble restaurant with a blackboard on the back wall announcing the day’s selection of dishes, this has long been where residents of the Barceloneta come for affordable, home-cooked fare. Tables are tightly packed and you’ll likely have to queue to be seated, but the wait will yield fresh fish and seafood, local cured meats and plenty of atmosphere.
Nowadays people flock to Poble Sec for its hip tapas bars, but this hidden gem has been attracting locals for decades. Can Margarit is a traditional Catalan restaurant serving humble, homemade food such as snails cooked in sauce, grilled rabbit and botifara(a local sausage) and beans. The rustic interior is reminiscent of an old cellar with tall, stone walls and large barrels of wine.
Despite being well-known as one of the city’s top seafood restaurants, Passadis del Pep goes undetected to most passersby. Located on the Plaça del Palau, a main square in El Born, the restaurant has no sign on the outside to indicate its presence. Those who do know where to find it enjoy lavish (and somewhat pricy) meals consisting of numerous courses of fresh seafood and other Spanish dishes that are served without a menu – just say stop when you’re full.
This was the first place in Barcelona to introduce the concept of a secret restaurant. Hidden behind a backdoor in the Dry Martini cocktail bar, Speakeasy has a sort of James Bond charm to it, with white tablecloths, subdued lighting and an inevitable air of mystique. The dishes are contemporary Catalan and Spanish cuisine, elegantly presented with an air of fine dining.
Valkiria is a busy co-working space located in Poblenou, one of the city’s most up-and-coming neighbourhoods. The Bistrot is a modern cafeteria open to both co-workers and members of the public. Open only during weekdays, they offer a lunchtime menu for €12.50 (around US$15) per person with regularly changing dishes. There’s also plenty of choice for breakfast and brunch, with sandwiches and bowls.
Located on one of the top floors of the Barcelona National palace – home to the National Museum of Catalan Art of MNAC – Òleum is a fine-dining restaurant offering exceptional views of the city. The menu is the creation of executive chef Fina Puigdevall who was awarded two Michelin stars for her restaurant Les Cols in the Catalan town of Olot. The tasting menu is a series of gourmet dishes inspired by the artwork on show in the museum and made with local ingredients.
This bright, modern restaurant is located within the walls of Barcelona’s Maritime Museum and unknown to most who haven’t visited the museum. The spacious dining room is surrounded by tall glass windows that offer undisturbed views of the 16th-century building and the charming outdoor courtyard where diners can also choose to sit. During the week, there’s a €16 (US$18) lunch menu available which includes three courses and a drink.