Halfway between a French bistro, a Nordic café and a Spanish casa de comidas (a traditional small family-run eatery where the menu changes according to season and the market), Santa Gula is the perfect place to sin – gastronomically speaking – in Gràcia. Hidden in a small and peaceful square, Santa Gula, or Saint Gluttony, is truly heaven amid Avinguda Diagonal’s commercial buzz.
This cozy restaurant with its wonderful outdoor terrace (set up in spring and summer) is without a doubt one of the neighborhood’s best well-kept secrets, attracting a crowd of faithful customers, from locals and area office workers to foodies from across the city. They all flock to Santa Gula to enjoy traditional recipes made with a personal touch, as well as more internationally inflected dishes cooked with top-quality seasonal ingredients.
The owners, Xavi, Nacho and Martin, decided not to divide the menu into starters and main courses and designed all the dishes to be shared. Following the true spirit of a casa de comidas and making the most of seasonal ingredients found in the market, the restaurant doesn’t offer a set-lunch menu; the menu changes religiously every two weeks, and the interesting wine list every three months. Santa Gula’s menu offers very personal versions of classic dishes such as El Prat artichoke hearts, which they preserve themselves rather than serving straight from a tin, homemade croquettes with squid ink filling instead of the usual ham or cod and Galician octopus a feira, the traditional boiled octopus with paprika, olive oil and salt, to which they add Iberian pork neck and black garlic parmentier.
The menu also stands out for being an excellent Spanish regional product atlas, as some of the dishes are a mashup of products from Catalonia and other parts of Spain. One standout example is the sweet peas from Catalonia’s Maresme region with fried eggs from Calaf, another Catalonian region, and cecina (the beef version of the traditional Spanish jamón) from northwestern Spain’s León.
Old-style dishes with international twists are available here too, such as crispy batter-fried sardines with teriyaki sauce and grilled eggplant purée and oxtail cannelloni cooked in the meat’s juices with truffled pecorino and béchamel sauce – both magnificent. Even bolder and more innovative combinations also have a place in Santa Gula’s menu. Segovia boneless suckling pig with caramelized mango could easily sound like a real sin to an orthodox Spanish gourmand, but, as the owners of Santa Gula say, “En cuestión de comer, todos hemos nacido pecadores.” (“When it comes to good food, we were all born sinners.”) Bless them!