Located in uptown Barcelona, Gràcia used to be it’s own separate town before the 19th century expansion of the Catalan capital. However, it’s retained much of its unique character and is famed for its lively nightlife and the Festa Major de Gràcia in August. Here you’ll find traditional eateries as well as trendy new bistros, including some top spots for traditional Spanish paella.
You’d be forgiven for walking straight past this family-run restaurant in Barcelona’s spunky Gràcia neighbourhood. From the outside the frosted glass windows and the absence of any menu to peruse could leave you wondering what to expect at Envalira. Yet inside you’ll find a welcoming traditional restaurant serving home-made dishes at reasonable prices. Although what the locals really appreciate are the so-called ‘rice-dishes’, including the special house paella.
To an English-speaking audience ‘El Glop‘ might not sound like the most appetising of locales but this popular Gràcia restaurant has been on the go since the 1970s. This is a traditional Catalan restaurant through and through, from the porrón of wine to the crema Catalana. The paella too is traditional, lacking the pomp you’ll fund at many restaurants down on the waterfront but with that simple, home-cooked taste which the locals so appreciate.
The word ‘arosseria‘ can roughly be translated as ‘rice place’ and shows that this Gràcia restaurant is serious about the quality of its many rice dishes. In Catalonia rice dishes tend to be of at least two kinds: the traditional paella, which tends to be dryer, or a wetter rice dish which comes with a rich fish stock. You’ll find both kinds at the Arrossería Xativa, including ‘mar i montanya‘ or ‘surf and turf’, as well as black rice cooked in squid ink.
La Antigua Cabaña is hardly the kind of place you’d make plans weeks ahead to visit and yet its no fuss cooking and friendly service has made it a favourite among locals in the area. Located just around the corner from the Avenida Diagonal, one of Barcelona’s busiest streets, La Antigua Cabaña is ideal for a quick lunch that won’t break the bank without compromising on flavour or quality.
‘A pleasant restaurant’ is how the Michelin Guide describes this traditional Catalan eatery which has become something of a local institution thanks to its scenic surroundings and quality cuisine. Open since 1986, the kitchen at Roig Robí is lead by female chef Mercè Navarro whose son Joan has since taken over the daily running of the kitchen. Their rice dishes are invariably on the seasonally changing menu, including a rather original paella made with sea cucumbers and artichokes.
Widely considered one of Gràcia’s best restaurants, Con Gràcia – a play on words meaning ‘with good humour’ – offers two different kinds of tasting menu: one traditional and one leaving you at the chef’s mercy. If you’re lucky, or just put in a good word with the waiter, you’ll be able to try the house paella which is made with whatever is in season at the time. Refined and flavoursome, this is a great way to get a taste of a fantastic paella while leaving room for other dishes too.
Half way between a local deli and a restaurant, Gràcia Qualitat offers a simple selection of tapas and home-cooked dishes ideal for sharing with friends. Their daily menu is great value for money at just €12.95 ($15.4) for three courses and a drink – and regularly features their home-made paella on Thursdays when it’s traditional to eat the dish in Spain. Made to order, the paella is made with whatever ingredients are in season and can be made with meat, fish or even vegetarian upon occasion.