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The favorite outdoor pastime of most Barcelonans is eating and drinking on a terrace. From the simplest bars to the most sophisticated, multi-starred alta cocina restaurants, something like half of our fair city’s eateries have space where diners can enjoy their meals a la fresca (and smoke a cigarette, too). Many of the best-known terraces sit on the rooftops of hotels, providing lovely tables and astonishing views that extend to the limits of the Mediterranean and menus that fill the pages of the latest Michelin guide.

But to get a real taste of a neighborhood, with some excellent food to boot, we prefer a few of the city’s more humble culinary gems, where you can kick back under the sun, the clouds or the city lights at night.

In the appropriately named Plaza del Mar, located between the beach and the port, Kaiku (“bowl” in Basque) offers a wonderful seafood menu with imaginative touches. On the restaurant’s terrace, the tables and chairs sit among gently swaying palms with a clear view of the sea on the horizon.

The menu varies according to the season and what’s available at the market. Most of the fish and seafood come directly from Barceloneta’s lonja, the wholesale fish market in the port area just in front, and are identified on the menu with the date of the catch and the name of the boat that caught it. Much of the produce, such as the squash blossoms, comes from the restaurant’s own garden.

Specialties include the smoked rice, a permanent fixture on the menu that’s chock-full of ingredients like octopus and green asparagus (the smokiness comes from a brief pass through embers), fish and meat carpaccios, battered and fried anemone, grilled cockles and scallops, and local red prawns.

Reservations are a must. Take your sunglasses by day and a cardigan by night.

La Vinya del Señyor, photo by Paula Mourenza

La Vinya del Señyor
Vila Viniteca is a distinguished Catalan wine import-export company that operates three venues, among which we are most partial to La Vinya del Señyor. This small wine bar sits in front of Santa María del Mar’s basilica door in what is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque corners of the city.

Locals arrive after work with some of their favorite Priorats or Albariños already in mind, but a visitor could sit outside sampling from the offerings all day long, as La Vinya offers a wide selection of mainly Catalan and Spanish wines and cavas. We love being able to discover something new and to revisit a beloved classic. The wine can be paired with delicious tapas, such as red pepper and eggplant escalivada, meatballs with mushrooms and foie gras, secallona (a dry-cured sausage), cheeses and Iberian ham (perfect with cava!) or even fresh oysters.

For lovers of good wine, Gothic windows and exceptional charm, La Vinya is inspiring in all seasons.

Suculent, photo by Paula Mourenza

Rambla del Raval is the grand boulevard that runs through the neighborhood of the same name, the old “Chinese quarter” of watering holes and cabarets that nowadays is densely populated by Pakistani and Filipino immigrants. It’s in El Raval that Suculent serves an amazing kind of cuisine that fuses old and new, reinventing traditional recipes with high-level technical wizardry by renowned chef Carles Abellán and his partners Javier Cotaruelo and Armando Anta.

The small venue was a restaurant de barrio in its former life, and its lovely terrace abuts the boulevard, which is filled with palms and the sparkling life of families, locals and, on weekends, the market.

The menu lists appealing small plates to share – or not – including cod “snout” with snails, capipota (head and leg of pork), El Prat artichokes with cecina (smoked veal) and truffle mayonnaise, and oxtail with chocolate and baby carrots.

One of Vell Poblenou's specialty rice dishes, photo by Paula Mourenza

Vell Poblenou
Rice – though not paella – is the specialty of this restaurant, which also has a peaceful terrace that basks in the sun and breezes of the nearby beach. Owner Luís Sanchez, who is in charge of the kitchen, runs the place with his children, Jordi and Azahara, who manage the front of the house.

The seasonal rice dishes, all made with Catalan bomba rice from the Ebro Delta, are made with care and with beguiling combinations of ingredients from the sea and the mountains. The menu also offers fish (especially cod), excellent lamb and veal dishes and the splendid eggs of Calaf, which come prepared a variety of ways.

El Jabalí de Ronda, photo by Paula Mourenza

El Jabalí de Ronda
This small tapas bar, charmingly decorated with hanging hams and flowers, is outfitted not only with a butcher counter but also, as you might have guessed, with an excellent terrace – the typical Barcelona kind on the corner, packed in summer and winter (with space heaters, of course). It’s clearly the main dining “room” and often filled with groups and families.

The neighborhood of Sant Antoni is close to theaters and night clubs (Apolo, Barts, El Molino), but also near the fashionable area for brunches, vermuts and after-work wine drinking and tapas munching around Carrer Parlament.

El Jabalí de Ronda draws customers primarily for its superb sandwiches, tapas, croquettes and potato bombas stuffed with ham from acorn-fed pigs. We also love the tapas of ensaladilla rusa, squid and the cod salad esqueixada.

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Published on June 05, 2014

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