The Best Traditional Catalan Restaurants in Barcelona
Courtesy of Cañete
Like each province of Spain, Catalonia has its own distinctive gastronomy which draws on local ingredients and know-how handed down from generation to generation. Inspired by the mountains of the Pyrenees and the waters of the Mediterranean, Catalan cuisine is hearty and generous. Here are some of the best traditional Catalan restaurants in Barcelona.
Located on the popular Carrer Princesa in the El Born neighbourhood of Barcelona, it would be fair to assume that Nou Cellar caters mostly to the tourist crowds – not so. Locals know that this is a serious establishment which prides itself on serving authentic Catalan cuisine. During the week the restaurant proposes an affordable lunch-time menu with a slightly more expensive menu being served at weekends and on Bank Holidays. Braised pork cheeks, roast chicken and of course Crema Catalana are all regular features.
Another El Born locale, the Bar del Pla is a bustling tapas bar where it is advisable to book for any night of the week. The kitchen’s ethos is to work with local and seasonal ingredients to create dishes in keeping with Catalan culinary tradition – albeit with a more up-to-date presentation and style of service. Stuffed courgette leaves, salt cod, smoked sardines and oxtail with foie gras are just some of the dishes you may come across.
The type of restaurant locals dine at for special occasions, Botafumeiro is a Barcelona institution renowned for being one of – if not the – best seafood restaurants in town. Every day, the chefs at Botafumeiro visit the fish markets of Catalonia and Galicia because even the Catalans appreciate that some of the best fish comes from the Atlantic. The delicacies on the menu include grilled Palamós prawns, seafood cannelloni, Galician lobster, wild hake or even a rich seafood paella.
Tucked away in a corner of Sant Antoni just off Avenida Parallel, L’Antic Magatzem doesn’t even bother with a website – locals have been finding their door for decades and lunches are always full anyways. There’s no pretense to what goes on in the kitchen here, just humble, home-cooked Catalan fare served the way at has been done for generations. The menú del día is a steal at just €10,90 and includes a starter, main course and dessert as well as a generous half bottle of wine per person.
As you wander through this part of the Raval you’d be forgiven for struggling to believe anything like Bar Cañete would exist in this part of town. Yet step through the door and you’ll be greeted by waiters in crisp white jackets, a perfectly polished brass bar and the kind of atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re right where it’s at. Dine at the bar and you’ll be able to admire the chefs working the plancha just in front. The cannelloni of roast poularde is a must-try, as is the steak tartare and generally anything on the specials board.
The 7 Portes has been serving customers on this spot since 1836 when it opened as a luxurious café in a newly designed building modelled on the grand edifices of Paris. By the early 1900s it had become a restaurant as well as the meeting point of local journalists, intellectuals and politicians. In the 1940s it was acquired by a local Catalan family who soon turned into one of the most popular eateries in town. While its location by the port means that today it attracts as many travellers as locals, the owners still pride themselves on offering the same quality of service and food the restaurant has done for some 180 years.
The neighbourhood of El Clot is a mostly residential neighbourhood with not much to offer in terms of going out. So if people from all across town are willing to travel there for one restaurant, you know it’s got to be good. Can Piñeda has been open since 1904 and has served pretty much the same traditional Catalan fare since its beginning. Hearty meat stews, rich seafood dishes, a sprinkle of truffle here, a slice of Jamón Iberico there – this is Catalan cuisine at its finest.
The Ca L’Isidre opened in 1970 by a husband and wife and has been in the same hands ever since, nearly some 50 years. While remaining true to the Catalan tradition, the chef has not hesitated to keep up to date with modern tastes and the menu includes rustic dishes such as stewed pork cheeks and mashed potatoes, as well as more contemporary dishes such as a lobster ravioli with ginger and lime. Rather on the expensive side (but worth it), the lunchtime menu is however a bargain at €38,50.