At one point in time, Gracia was a traditional village on the outskirts of Barcelona. Today, it retains its old-world charm, despite being included in the city’s ever-expanding clutch. Wandering the streets, you’ll find a mishmash of old-fashioned artisan shops, family-run restaurants, and trendy hangouts to explore, all of which are set against a rustic backdrop of cobbled Spanish streets and iron balconies.
Kick back and recline while eating dinner on the floor at Momos (Carrer Martínez de la Rosa, 71). This luxury Asian restaurant offers an affordable taste from the east in the heart of Gracia, promising experimental dishes that combine local ingredients with the spices and traditional recipes of Asia. The owner, Jordi Brau, was inspired by his seven years in South-East Asia where he shared a market stall with a Tibetan refugee in Nepal. Think elegant fish dishes, tuna tartare, and a stylish backdrop that seems world’s away from the hubbub of Barcelona city centre.
Bringing you a touch of the Med with Asian delights, Con Gracia (Carrer de Martínez de la Rosa, 8) is another eastern-fusion restaurant in the streets of Gracia. Specialising in Asian dishes cooked by an Irish chef in a Spanish location, it serves up a mouth-watering menu of treats like sashimi style Xatka, cod fillet, and lamb ribs served with spinach – basically, a bit of something for everyone. Don’t forget to order a bottle of wine alongside your meal, which will have been handpicked by in-house sommelier Fredrik Blomberg.
For a sampling from the sea, head to Botafumeiro (Carrer Gran de Gràcia, 81) a fishy restaurant that boasts an extensive menu filled with seafood served with a twist: think sea cucumbers plated up with chickpeas, Cantabrian lobster with rice, and sole served alongside prawns and truffle. Botafumeiro really is a place for tantalising the taste buds.
Feel right at home in Mi Gracia (C/ L’encarnació, 52), a family-run restaurant oozing cozy appeal. As for the food? Expect a riotous show of Argentinean goodies, like empanadas in all different flavours, hearty meat dishes, and filling pasta dishes made from recipes passed down through generations. Pair your meal with the restaurant’s delicious selection of mojitos and gin and tonics.
Tucked away behind a glass door, the intimate L’Anxoveta (Calle San Domenec, 14-16) has a star of the show – the anchovies after which it is named. But if you’re looking to broaden your horizons, there are plenty of other tapas dishes to choose from, including classic offerings like croquetas and calamares served with delicious sauces.
Hit the terrace at Morrysom (Calle Girona, 162) to soak up the evening sun. The popular hangout is a firm favourite amongst the locals who revere it for its lightning quick paellas and everything in between. Handpick your own selection of dishes to make a unique meal, from the pescadito frito (whitebait) to the gambas rebozadas (prawns cooked in a light batter) and mussels. For veggies, there is a delectable vegetable paella topped with creamy goat’s cheese.
So you want something a little more upmarket? Nowhere is a better bet than Paco Meralgo (Carrer de Muntaner, 171) (which just happens to be one of the only tapas bars in Gracia that takes reservations). Here, the creative and elaborate selection of tapas dishes is well worth the loftier price tag. Tuck into favourites like garlic squid, razor-shells, grilled prawns, and courgette flower with mozzarella. Don’t forget to choose a bottle of tipple from the unique selection while you’re at it.
Set on a picturesque square overlooking Rambla Catalunya, La Tramoia (Rambla de Catalunya, 15) is an ideal spot for people watching and picky snacks. On the first floor, there is a great selection of tapas dishes to choose from, including the hefty collection of specials that adorn the giant chalkboards inside.
If you’re a keen cyclist, you’re going to want to pedal your way to El Ciclista Bar (Carrer de Mozart, 18), an homage to the humble bicycle (with a beverage or two to go with it). Everything here is created using reused cycling materials, from the handlebar doorknobs to the wheels used as tables and the traffic signal taking pride of place over the DJ booth. The cocktail menu is worth putting your brakes on for, as are the excellent gin and tonic creations.
If you’re suffering after a night out, hotfoot it straight to the Bloody Mary Cocktail Lounge (Carrer de Ferrer de Blanes, 3), where you can get your hands on the Holy Grail of hangover cures – in the form of tomato juice mixed with vodka and Perrins (there are ten different types of Bloody Mary to choose from). Sit back and let it work its magic as you sink into the rustic old Chester sofas and gaze out the bay window that overlooks the quaint Ferrer de Blanes.
At a loose end between 6pm and 8.30pm? Try Elephanta (Torrent d’en vidalet, 37) on for size during its popular happy hour. Get a discount on the delectable G&Ts the fashionable hangout is famed for and sample some of the incredible concoctions the bar staff have come up with. You might be able to browse an exhibition or two, as the place often doubles up as an art gallery space.
The Why Not Cocktail Bar (Av. Diagonal, 353) really is the epitome of a 21st-century after-dark hotspot. Dreamed up by its Italian owner, it is the complete opposite to the dimly-lit drinking holes around Barcelona with its bright white bar and accompanying furniture. It’s flashy but intimate at the same time, while the expansive cocktail menu offers both traditional drinks recipes as well as more modern offerings.
Are you a fan of Tin-Tin (let’s face it, who isn’t?)? Check out The Tin Tin Shop (Travessera de Gràcia, 176) which is one hundred percent dedicated to the French-speaking boy wonder. Here, you can get your hands on everything from t-shirts and action figures to posters, pencil cases, and watches. Don’t forget to pick up a book or two to add to your collection.
Tea lovers will want to set aside some time to trawl the shelves of the Tea Shop (C/ Gran de Gràcia, 91). This shop is dedicated to – you guessed it – all things tea related. Grab a unique selection of leaves to take home with you, pick up a mug or tea memorabilia, and sample some of the shops teas-of-the-moment.
Step inside the stylish 1930s BOO (C/ Bonavista, 2), a much-coveted men’s and women’s fashion store in the heart of Gracia. Inside, the retro décor propels you back in time, while the background music makes for a relaxing experience. As well as historic labels and the latest trends, you can also get your hands on a limited selection of perfume, books, and heritage objects.
Gracia seemed like the perfect place to set up shop. “It has a lot of life with its terraces, cafes and it keeps its small town traditions, like neighbours placing tables in front of their houses and dining in the street on summer nights,” says BOO’s Alex.
If photography means more to you than grainy shots on your smartphone, then Nostalgic (Carrer de Goya, 18) should be high up on your shopping itinerary. This cute retro photography store harks back to the golden age of film-based photography (as its name suggests). Here, you can peruse the colourful collection of pinhole cameras, compact throwaways, and a selection of handcrafted camera cases. You can also flick through the display of decorative prints and brush up on your technique with a book or two.
Gracia is a neighbourhood where “creativity and tradition is mixed,” says one of Nostalgic’s owners, Sara, which makes it the perfect spot for this retro photography store.
Everything on sale in the Amapola Vegan Shop (Travessera de Gràcia, 129)is exactly that – vegan. Promising a collection of ethical clothing and accessories, you can shop here without feeling a smidgen of guilt. Buy sleek leather alternatives for everything from handbag and suitcases to wallets and shoes, and browse the vibrant stand of Barts’ scarves. Look out for the bamboo socks, wool-free gloves, and fun slogan t-shirts, too.
Barcelona is considered to be one of the most skate-able cities in the world, and State BCN (Carrer del Torrent de l’Olla, 108) plays on this. Step inside and you’ll be greeted by a space that combines art, skating, socialising, and fashion, where you can pick up a new skateboard, some labelled clothes, or simply browse the collection of art on display. When asked why he chose to set up shop in Gracia, founder Jose Parron says it was “because Gracia is still one of the few original neighbourhoods of Barcelona.”