My week in Barcelona was nearly over. A series of late nights and ruthless touring involving walking miles though the city was beginning to take it’s toll. On my last day in town, I wandered through the Gràcia neighborhood (Sagrada Famila, Parc Güell) and came upon a number of interesting places. (Some none-food related things of note were the interesting street art/graffiti and cryptic signage, if someone could identify the signage, it would be appreciated.)
I loved the restaurants/bars around here because of the locals-only vibe. Cafés spilled out into open squares that were connected by narrow streets of boutiques, restaurants, and bookstores. The food choices were varied, tasty, and cheap. Here you can find traditional Italian restaurants, Basque country cooking, possibly the only good Mexican restaurant in Barcelona, all sorts of tapas, great pizza, and old diner-style bistros. I ended up getting dinner at the Mexican restaurant, Cantina Machito, and lunch the next day at a Catalan café.
Cantina Machito was good, but not the kind of food that you can in the US (particularly in the South). Of course, Mexican food served in the southern United States isn’t quite authentic either, but it’s what I’m used to. Cantina Machito hit the high notes correctly, offering up excellent margatitas and guacamole. I even ordered a Michelada, which is essentially a Bloody Mary made with beer instead of vodka (there are other differences). Obviously, go here if you are looking to have some Mexican food, but if you can get a good Mexican meal back home, I’d steer you to something a little more local. Try their margaritas, order up an appetizer, and enjoy yourself. (Photos of the food are a little dark, but you can see the guac and another dish here.)
A cafe on Plaça del Sol was a great stop for lunch the next day. I’ll be up front here, the best part of this place is their prices. A dirt cheap menu and simple food is what this is about. Local favorites such as Galacian octopus, paellas, mussels, and various preparations of seafood are on the menu next to simpler fare such as sandwiches, fried potatoes, and assortments of olives. I ordered the house sandwich and was not disappointed. Served open-faced and loaded with meats, cheese, vegetables, and an egg sunny-side up, this sandwich was filling and surprisingly cheap. Here is the place to go for a value, budget meal. Nothing fancy here, just cheap and flavorful.
There is one glaring detail I have omitted from this review: the restaurant’s name. I somehow misplaced it. I’ve looked online and in tour books and cannot seem to find it. I’ve asked some people in Barcelona to stop by the place by and get the name for me. I’ll let you know if I ever find out. Heck, I may even use this as an excuse to go back… [EDIT: Found it!!! Nou Candanchu!]
Even if you aren’t looking for a meal, a walk through Gracia is a well spent afternoon. Who knows, if you make it through the squares without pausing for a drink at a cafe, you might still be stopped by one of the ice cream or pastry shops. Good luck.