Bar Zim C/ Dagueria, 20
When a friend told me to meet him at Bar Zim for the first time I nearly waked straight past it. A tiny bar smaller than most people's living rooms offers 'vins, caves, i petons' (wine, cava and kisses) the kisses in question are little free nibbles in the true spirit of tapas. Bar Zim has a carefully selected wine list mostly from Catalonia and Spain but some from regions that may surprise you, a good red wine from sherry producing Cadiz perhaps? Or from Mallorca, more known for sun, sea and sand than producing high quality wines. The wines on the list are there not because they come from a well known bodega but simply because the owners think they are great wines, and quite frankly I agree wholeheartedly. The owners in question are Katherine McLaughlin, who owns the cheese shop Formatgeria La Seu next door, her sister Mary and business partner Francesc Mas Gutierrez who is the man found behind the bar most nights and the creator of the 'kisses'. The space may be tiny but it just adds to the cosy and friendly atmosphere, Fransesc is always willing to explain the wine you choose and have a chat making you feel right at home. Barcelona is slightly behind the times when it comes to wine bars but Bar Zim hits the spot every time.
Ginger C/ Palma de Sant Just, 1
A cocktail bar like cocktail bars should be; table service, beautifully mixed drinks and soft lighting Ginger is just a stone's throw away from our first stop, Bar Zim. Serving a variety of classic c ocktails, wine and tapas this multi level bar is a cocktails lovers delight. Art deco décor adds to the classic feel and there is a mix of spaces, from tables for bigger groups to secluded corners. All this is topped off with a perfect selection of soft background music which never impedes conversation. If you long for the feel of the good old days, or just fancy a fantastic cocktail, Ginger is the place to be.
Matis Bar Plaça Nova, 5
From Artur Martínez, the man behind the Michelin starred restaurant Capritx in Terrassa, just outside Barcelona, comes the recently opened Matis Bar. Not immediately visible from the street, Matis Bar is actually inside the building of the Catalan Institute of Architects, making fantastic use of a formerly empty space on the lower ground floor. Matis steers clear of the ubiquitous croquetas, bravas and ensaladilla and instead offers a range of small traditional Catalan and Spanish dishes with a modern twist and presentation. Offering a tapas tasting menu for less than 20€ and a wine list made up exclusively of Catalan wines this place really is worth a visit.
Bar La Plata C/ Mercè, 28
Opened in 1945 and still going so strong it can be a struggle to get a table, Bar La Plata is a traditional place, with barrels of wine and vermouth piled to the ceiling and decorative tiles lining the walls. Only serving a few dishes, the star of the show is, without a doubt, the fried sardines, harking back to the days when this part of the neighbourhood would be filled with fisherman looking or a snack. Wash them down with an ice cold beer or a glass of local wine straight from the barrel. A firm favourite with the locals who spill out onto the street around it, drink in hand, waiting for their sardinas fritas. Ferran and Albert Adrià are said to be big fans and quite frankly if it's good enough for the best chef in the world, it's good enough for El Palauet.