These days Sant Antoni is simply awash with great bars and restaurants. Here is El Palauet Living Barcelona's pick of the best...
There is a Sunday (and sometimes Saturday) tradition around these parts known as ‘fer el vermut’ which is based around having vermouth or beer and a few snacks before heading off for Sunday lunch. I am a big fan of any tradition that involves food and luckily there is a place down Sant Antoni way which is the perfect place for a Sunday vermouth. Bar Nostàlgic may be small but it certainly packs a punch. Home made tapas such as croquetas and their own bomba picante are accompanied by a great selection of wines and spirits or the traditional, and Bar Nostàlgic’s home made, vermouth. Add to that welcoming staff to make you feel at home and recommend the perfect selection of tapas and a warm, intimate atmosphere and trust me, you won’t want to leave even for your Mum’s best Sunday roast.
C/ Villarroel, 27
Babèlia, or to use its full title, Babèlia Books and Coffee is one of those cafés where you feel completely at home. Opened just over a year ago by two friends, one Irish, one Catalan, Babèlia isn’t just about coffee and tea. One of the walls is completely covered in books, from romance to non-fiction, English to Catalan, you can simply pick up the one you fancy and snuggle into a cosy chair. Keeping you company is a fantastic range of cakes and pastries and if you really do want to stay all day, tasty salads and quiches are at hand. If you’re in town a little longer why not pop along to an English language book club or check out their most recent exhibition? One thing is for sure, Babèlia is definitely more than just a coffee shop.
C/Comte de Urgell 32
In the past few months a new member has joined my growing list of food addictions. Alongside croquetas, cheese, fuet, avocados and (whisper it) pork pies, you will now also find empanadas. The empanada is a savory pastry almost like a pasty with its origins in Galicia in the north-west of Spain. Flaky pastry encases a wide variety of ingredients, from chorizo to spicy beef, mozzarella to cod loin, the empanada lends itself to innovation. To pick up some of the best in the city (not just my opinion, my Argentinian born friend, Argentina being a country of empanada lovers, rates it highly too..) you should head to Rekons in Sant Antoni. Now so popular it has added a take-away shop in Gràcia, Rekons is somewhat of a landmark in Sant Antoni, helped by the fact it is directly opposite a building covered entirely in some very impressive and arty graffiti. So if your pastry urge kicks in, Rekons is simply the only place to go.
The Balearic Islands may have a reputation in some parts of the world of just being places for partying but actually they are among some of the most beautiful islands in the world. With beaches to rival the Caribbean, their own culture and traditions and a relaxed pace of life, they are the perfect place to get away from it all. But what if you don’t have the time to visit? Never fear, in Sant Antoni there is a place which will come to your rescue; Idò Balear. Though a relative newcomer to the burgeoning bar and restaurant scene, Idò Balear has become well know especially amongst the Mallorcan, Menorcan, Ibizan and Formenteran expats now living in the city. The restaurant is run by three born and bred Mallorquines who have brought the culinary delights of the islands to the big city. They serve traditional small dishes and (dare I say it) the best ensaimadas (mallorcan sweet pastries) in the city. The front of the restaurant is set up as a delicatessen where you can buy all the Balearic delights you have just sampled. The back is set up for workshops and tastings and is extremely child friendly. If there’s simply no time to jump on the boat then head down to Idò Balear.
C/ d'Aldana, 9
In these months of colder weather, when the sun sets early and the trees are bare we all need a bit of colour injected into our lives, and this is where Jonny Aldana comes in. With its bright façade and terrace with flowers on each table, not to mention the 50s vibe of the interiors, this bar puts a smile on your face before you’ve even walked in the door. Once you cross the threshold, the smile will just get bigger. Jonny Aldana not only serves up the usual beers and wine but is also a fantastic place to ‘fer el vermut’ or sip on Barcelona’s new most popular drink, the spritz. The bar also has a fabulous menu, including twists on local favourites such as the bikini (usually a toasted ham and cheese sandwich) and the torrada (toasted bread topped with something simple). The menu also includes a wide variety of vegetarian dishes, which are not always the easiest thing to find in meat loving Barcelona. Even though I said Jonny Aldana is the perfect place to cheer up a winter’s day, it is also the place to be in the summer when the sun shines on its large terrace.
Ronda de Sant Antoni, 39-41
Housed in the former factory (fàbrica means factory) of the undisputed beer of Catalonia, La Fàbrica Mortiz has undergone an extensive renovation (seven years to be precise) to transform it into an oh so trendy eatery and bar. Split into two sections, there is La Cervecería which is all about the beer and serves food to match such as fried seafood, german sausages and even a type of pizza from the Alsace called Flammkuchen. The other space is the Bar à vins. Proving that Mortiz knows more about drinks that just beer, this bar offers an extensive and international wine list and dishes especially prepared to complement it. Putting the food and drink to one side for a moment (though it’s hard to resist…) I can’t speak about La Fàbrica Moritz without mentioning the décor. The factory has been truly transformed into a stylish, sleek and modern place to be. Clever lighting and the use of modern materials contrasted against the original brickwork creates an open and contemporary space. All adds up to place you definitely have to try.
Bohèmic is one of those tiny gems you stumble across and enjoy so much you can’t wait to go again. This small, family run French style bistro is home not only to some fantastic food but also fabulous service. The must try at Bohèmic is the small but perfectly formed chef’s tasting menu which is explained course by course by the friendliest of waiters. The highlight? Difficult to choose between a pâté which came with different types of salts to bring out distinct flavours or chicken cannelloni even better than Mamma used to make. Bohèmic is simply a joy.