If the name evokes some kind of mini-Barcelona holiday village, the Barceloneta is very much a neighbourhood with an important history and strong sense of local community. Bordered by water on both sides, the Barceloneta’s narrow streets are lined with all kinds of bars, old and new, including these rather characterful places.
Behind the name of this family-run bar is the fact that back in the day, the Bar Electricitat was the first place to get electricity in the neighbourhood. In many ways the bar doesn’t look to have changed much since back then, with its large wooden barrels still full of local wine and old paintings on the walls. Locals gather here at weekends for a glass of vermouth and some classic tapas, including the Barceloneta’s very own bomba de patatas: a breadcrumbed ball of mashed potato stuffed with meat and covered in sauce.
One of those old-fashioned family run businesses for which the Barceloneta is so popular, the Jai-Ca has been on the go since the 1950s. Locals love to come here at weekends for their fix of fresh fish and seafood cooked to order and served at the kind of price locals can still afford. Another reason people love the Jai-Ca is its vermouth, made with the addition of a generous splash of gin which kicks in about half way through your second glass.
The ‘Golden Glass’ as it translates, El Vaso de Oro is a small tapas bar which proudly brews its own beers. Far from being a trendy brew pub, the Vaso de Oro is where local market traders come for a late lunch after shutting up shop. Clients take a seat at the bar itself – there are no tables in this tiny locale – and the barmen come to take their order before shouting it out to the concerned parties: usually the guy on the beer tap and the guy next to the stove. But don’t expect some run-down old dive bar, the waiters don crisp white jackets with epaulettes and the bar is so polished you could see yourself in it.
Part of a new generation of bars in the Barceloneta, the Makamaka predominantly caters to a younger, more urban crowd of both locals and travellers. Popular with yacht crews, surfers and the general beach crowd, Makamaka has the air of 70s surf shack but with a certain Instagrammable self-awareness. Primarily a burger café, Makamaka is open late and has a selection of house and classic cocktails which makes it all too easy to go straight from the beach to the party.