A perfect Barcelona day – or night out – wouldn’t be complete without a quick fix of xurros (the Catalan for churros), the long, thin fried doughnuts with or without fillings of cream or chocolate, but always best dipped into a thick, sticky cup of dark drinking chocolate. For variety and sheer fatty satisfaction, few are better than Gracia’s Xurreria Trébol. +34 932 18 36 54
The original, and (competition from the excellent Bar Brutal notwithstanding) still the heartbeat of Barcelona’s natural wine scene, this El Born bar run by a Franco-Catalan couple has a brilliantly chosen list of European natural wines, to be enjoyed in a cosy wood-panelled space featuring a reproduction of Picasso’s Guernica.
A properly local and, for want of a better word, authentic, atmospheric old-time Barcelona institution in La Barceloneta where you take your place among the locals on wooden benches and order simple tapas (black sausage; anchovies) from a rough-and-ready menu, alongside medicinal house vermut from the barrel.
For those of us who never got to experience the legendary surrealist Catalan molecular gastronomy of El Bulli, the exuberantly decorated Tickets in the Eixample is the next best thing: a tapas take on the funky creativity of brothers Ferran and Albert Adrià. Enjoy such deconstructed delights as crunchy octopus with kimchi mayonnaise or liquid olives.
The place to come for perfectly cooked traditional Catalan food made from the freshest ingredients sourced, naturally enough, from the Sant Antoni market located just across the road – and at very reasonable prices, too. The fideu à la cassola is a particular favourite: a thickly, richly satisfying dish based on the popular local pasta – a kind of pasta paella. +34 933 25 05 78
The name riffs on the Catalan for wine (vi) and library (biblioteca) and that gives you a fair idea of what to expect from this delightful Gràcia wine bar, which provides a bright and airy space in which to work your way through the 150-odd vinous selections and – just as impressive – its selection of more than 50 varieties of cheese.
If you’re visiting Barcelona’s most famous landmark, Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia cathedral, then it’s worth popping by this unassuming nearby local bar run by Terra Alta-based producer Casa Mariol, for a quick pick-me-up. There’s a range of wines from the Terra Alta DO, but it’s the vermut (particularly the gorgeously herbal white) that’s the star.
Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city, with a large immigrant population. And that mix of cultures had led to some very fine gastronomic fusions, such as Dos Palillos, which plays on Spanish (or Catalan) tapas culture with Japanese small-plates in a buzzily informal (and yet Michelin-starred) space.
Els Sortidors del Parlament
With a homey, cosy Catalan charm, Els Sortidors del Parlament in the Eixample is a local shop-cum-bar with an impressively deep wine list. You can choose your bottle from the shop to either take away or drink in at a very fair €4 mark-up, along with olives and ham or something a little more substantial from the creative tapas menu. +34 934 41 16 02
Run by one of Spain’s leading fine wine importers, Barcelona’s best wine shop is stuffed with a fine international collection – if you’re a local starved of French or Italian wine, this is the place to go – complemented by one of the best pan-Spanish selections around.
David Williams is a widely published wine writer, author and judge. He is a founding member of The Wine Gang. This guide appeared in the July 2019 issue of Decanter.