Best Things to Do
A city brimming with dining options, deciding where to go can be tricky especially if it's your first visit to Barcelona. Here, we provide a few suggestions.
Head to the Ramblas where you'll find Els Quatre Gats, a nice place to eat lunch and take in some Barcelona history. It was here in the beginning of the 1900s that artists and bohemians met to eat, drink and socialize. A young Pablo Picasso showed his art here and designed the restaurant's first menu. Classic Spanish bistro-style food can be had from potato and onion tortilla to grilled meats to tinto de verano — a typical warm weather beverage of red wine and soda over ice. The room has been splendidly cared for, retaining much of the original décor and atmosphere that the young artists reveled within.
Or cross Passeig de Gràcia and walk down Carrer de Provença towards Rambla de Catalunya (not the Ramblas). On the next corner is a charming, gourmet deli straight out of the 1940s called Mauri. Browse the warm and cold deli cases, choose a few finger sandwiches, one of the three paellas being offered and a plate of cheeses or vegetables, and pick a seat in the raised cocktail style area. Waitresses will deliver your food, refill your drinks, and point you in the direction of the ice cream and pastry area when you are ready.
A downtown-style option is the hip and casual Santa Maria, located just down the street. A menu of handwritten nightly specials captures the adventurous spirit of the Spanish chefs: Sardines are served with eggplant purée and tuna tartar while frog legs slathered in a sweet dark sauce are so good you may wonder why no one back home considers eating these more often. Classics like paella and tortilla are also on offer. After dinner, slip around the corner to Gimlet, a romantic bar, perfect for lingering well into the wee hours of the morning.
For lunch stop into Euskal Extea, a cozy bar for Basque tapas, also known as pintxos. All the pintxos are flagged with different color toothpicks and your bill is added up by the amount of toothpicks left on your plate and the number of glasses in front of it.
For dinner, head toward the bottom of the Rambla de Catalunya to Ciutat Comtal. Inside, high-energy locals pack in three-deep at the tapas bar chatting a mile a minute. The outdoor tables, under the trees, are a perfect spot to linger over tapas and cold pints of artisan beer, watch the locals walk by, and recount your visit to lovely Barcelona.