The Petsolt’s Guide to Barcelona

Hey friends, here are some of the things we think will make your visit more fun!

Neighborhoods

Barcelona has lots of great and really diverse neighborhoods. Here is a brief overview so you know where to wander.

Barcelona Neighborhoods

The star is considered the center, and is the division of the old/ancient city and many of the newer areas. Rather than north and south, the city maps are typically oriented from the point of view of the Mediterranean, with up being West. So typically it is referred to as left and right, up and down. 

Sidebar: Food & Drinks

We will put down just a few of our favorite places in each neighborhood. A couple tips:

  • Download the Michelin app – the great places are countless
  • Read Google reviews – they are pretty good
  • Make reservations – The Fork app is a great place to make reservations for many of these places-otherwise just click on their website from Google Maps
  • Old Bodegas – they are all over the place – they look old and cool, and usually are – wander in for a Vermut or copa de vino
  • Las Ramblas – don’t eat there… all tourist places, but the Boqueria market is worth a wander through to grab a walking lunch
  • You’re going to want to try some good Jamon Iberico. As they say here, Serrano & Prosciutto is what you feed your little kids. Here is a good guide: https://www.spainfoodsherpas.com/iberian-ham-guide-how-to-select-the-right-jamon-iberico/

Eixample

We lived in Left Eixample District, sometimes known as Gayxample, for most of our stay, but recently moved to Right Eixample. Both great. The division between left and right is Passeig de Gracia–literally the passage to Gracia.

Restaurants

  • Walk up and down Caller Enric d’ Granados (one block South) in-between Diputacio and Diagonal – this is the happening street for restaurants – lots of good ones, but check Google ratings
  • Rooq – Fried chicken sandwiches – owner graduated from ECU
  • Parking – several restaurants, all good
    • Pizza
    • Pita
    • Sotano (tasty, tasty steaks)
  • Robata – Japanese/Sushi
  • Curtis Audiophile Cafe – Vermut & a DJ – need a reservation
  • Cervecería Catalana / Vinitus / Flauta – all the same – good, solid tapas
  • Disfrutar – Two star Michelin molecular gastronomy is place – need reservations far in advance – expect a 4+ hour experience and dropping a lot. Update—just named 5th best restaurant in the world!
  • Compartir Barcelona – Disfrutar’s new other restaurant – more traditional, but still great!
  • Asado Hamburguesas – Argentinian Burgers
  • Pepa Bar a Vins – Wine focused, old library vibe
  • Oma Bistro – Sandwiches – just if you’re here for a while and want a sandwich–they’re pretty good
  • DelaCrem – gelato (three locations)

Groceries

  • Reserva Ibérica – Get your fresh Iberica cut while you wait–try the differences in the shop (maybe with some wine) and take home your favorites
  • La Castafiore – Italian fresh pasta
  • Mercat del Ninot – Local, traditional stands with meats, fruits/veggies, cheese, seafood
  • Fruteca – you guessed it… fruit
  • Colmado Quilez – Huge liquor store on one street
  • Colmado Quilez – Same place, different street – great deli and gourmet foods around the corner

Coffee

Drinks

  • Garage Beer Co. – Favorite brewery in town
  • El Nacional – Worth popping in for one drink just to see the surprising place
  • El Tros – Lovely little wine bar that also serves a few tapas (on our new street)

Bakeries

Bookstores

  • Llibreria Finestres – my favorite bookstore in the world! and directly below our first apartment in BCN – all languages are mixed together and highly curated with lots of micro topics
  • Llibreria la Central – around the corner (also one in Raval) has a good English section

Gracia

An old suburb that is now part of Barcelona, it is a super cool area with good restaurants, narrow streets, & squares to grab a drink and some tapas. They take siesta seriously, so best after about 5pm or so.

Restaurants

  • Berbena – Small and amazing – our current favorite – make reservations – ask for chef’s table
  • Parallelo – One of two best gelato spots in town. Also on Glovo!
  • Formatgeria –  Not a restaurant, but our favorite cheese shop
  • Fonda Pepa – Menu is handwritten in Catalan.  Ask them to translate.  Cannot miss on any of their options.

Coffee & Bakeries

Drinks

  • Old Fashioned – Get your high-priced Pappy here
  • Bodega Marin – OLD, gritty, vermut and wine from barrels 

El Gotic

The old city–tons of history and great shops & restaurants. Calle Laietana separates El Gotic from La Ribera & Las Ramblas separates it from Raval. This area is worth wandering around and getting lost, grabbing a drink, then getting lost again.

Restaurants

  • Lots of great restaurants—just need to add; Wander the narrow streets past the cathedral to find some good ones

Coffee & Bakeries

  • Dumas

Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera (including El Born)

Maybe our favorite–old windy streets. You will get lost here for sure, but that’s okay. So many cool places to wander into.

Restaurants

  • Cal Pep – Popular, make reservations
  • Bar del Pla – Casual
  • El Set – lovely charcuterie trays, wine and other simple tapas, take reservations

Coffee & Bakeries

  • Nomad – You will find their coffee in tons of places around town
  • Hidden cafe – Also a great place to work

Drinks

  • El Xampanyet – Order a bottle or two of their famous, bottled in house sparkling Xampanyet! – No reservations here, but worth going
    • Pro tip: If you can’t get into El Xampanyet, sit in the bar or outside at Bodega La Puntal next door (and only the bar or outside) – same owners and you can order it there
  • Paradiso – Deli up front, speakeasy in back
  • Collage  – Craft cocktails
  • Dr. Stravinsky – Craft cocktails

EL Raval

Dirty, grungy, awesome. But know where you are and keep your wallet tucked away! There is no vibe like a weekend night Raval vibe.

Restaurants

Coffee & Bakeries

Drinks

St. Antoni

Some of the most amazing restaurants in the city, including those from El Barri (The group from the creative director of El Bulli-worth googling)

Restaurants

Drinks

  • Meresme – Another really good brewery

La Barceloneta

The beach! Also, a very cool old neighborhood with great old bodegas. The further north you go, the more chill the beach.

Coffee

  • La Cala – Good place to grab a coffee on the way to the beach

El Poblenou

The start-up part of town, also on the Mediterranean. Not necessary to visit unless you’re here for a while.

More

Here are some links to a bit more information about the various parts of town. Visit all of them if you can.

Places to visit

Language

Yup, it isn’t Spanish. But, Spanish (Castelleno) works everywhere. And English works almost everywhere too. But if you want to endear yourself to the locals, here are a couple Catalan phrases:

  • Good Morning – Bon dia.
  • Good Afternoon – Bon Tarda.
  • Good Night – Bona nit.
  • Please – Si us plau.
  • Thanks – Gracies or Merci.
  • Cheers – Salut.
  • Do you speak English? – Parla angles?

Books

We love to read books that take place in the place we’re visiting. Here are a couple to consider…

  • Shadow of the Wind – take place in our neighborhood & Barcelona over several years and books. It is a series–but you can read just the first or all of them.
  • Cathedral by the Sea – Very Pillars of the Earth about building Santa Maria del Mar in El Born – great bit of middle ages Barcelona history

Transportation

Taxis

You can walk anywhere in the city. If you’re feeling like you want to take a taxi they are easy to grab on the street. You can also use the app Free Now which will call a taxi if you are out and can’t find one. 

Metro

Pretty easy to navigate. There are several within a couple blocks of the apartment–can be a good way to move around.

Trains

Trains go to Montserrat, Sitges, and all kinds of other great places. But there are a few stations, so make sure to check for the right ones

News