We lived in Barcelona--in the Port Vell Marina in Barceloneta--for 7 months, so many of our favorites were in that area and the nearby adorable (and trency) Born area. We found most of the name restaurants (Botafumeiro and Cal Pep and Cerviceria Catalana excepted) overpriced and not really worth the money. Here are some favorites.
First, is Cafe Montiel, on a tiny street in the Born on Flassaders, #19. 932 683 729. It’s worth the money, as few places in Barcelona are. And it’s not really more than most, really and certainly not maybe as much as the trendy Gracia places. The owner, Marcos, is a real charmer and not phony. It’s small and lovely and atmospheric and photogenic.Marcos will treat you like you’re in your own home. If you like suckling pig, don’t miss it. Otherwise the fish is terrific and the salmon or tuna tartare is outstanding.
A tiny little place only locals go to for fish, fried anchovies, calamaris, sardines, very cheap, is Can Mano (with an N-yay over the N) on Calle Baluard 12 , in Barcenoleta.Try local Turbio "wine",a cross between white wine, cava and beer, make sure it’s very cold Telephone 93 319 3082. open for lunch, opens at 8PM, go early. It crowds up very fast.
Another similar place like that, only Thursday and Friday for dinner, and lunch I think most days, mostly locals know it, is La Cova Fumada, Calle Baluard, 56 Barceloneta. You must go early for dinner, like before 7 because they close at about 8:15. Don’t miss their bombetas.
We also really liked Bombeta (like most of the world). Calle Maquinista, for tapas. Try the bometas, of course, the meijillones (mussels, which, though cold, come in a terrific tomato sauce) rabas (fried calamari type things), fried artichoke (acachcofas I think) patatas bravas, pimientos padrones of course (like patatas bravas, you must try these everywhere)
Best Italian restaurant in all of Barcelona is Murivecchi, run by an actual Neapolitan family is at the end of Princesa # 59, 933 152 297. Downright inexpensive and an easy, pleasant walk through the Born. Pizza really good, huge salads, great tuna, good pastas. Try the garlic bread, made from their pizza dough.
We loved Dos Palillos (meaning Two Chopsticks) an Asian tapas place, allegedly owned either by the brother of Ferran Adria (El Bulli) or a former chef there. Small, intimate with great atmosphere. Go for the menu del dia lunch, pretty good value by the standards of that place, maybe 20 euros. You sit there around the open kitchen and watch these young chefs cook and consult and then construct these precise, gorgeous plates. Near the Boqueria, off the Ramblas, at Elisabets, 9. Phone 933 040 513. You must reserve.
Kaiku has the best fideu (noodle) paella I had. Seaside, pn the “boardwalk” in Barcenoleta, lunch only. . You must reserve on weekends especially. Locals go there in droves on Sunday. Plaça del Mar, 1; 932 219 082. Roger, very upbeat and friendly, speaks English. The salad with foie gras is excellent and big enough to share.
Everybody knows Cerviceria Catalana C/ Mallorca, 236, 08008 Tel:93.216.03.68. And it’s usually a big wait but if you go like at 12:30 or 1 usually no wait. When it’s calcots (w romescu) sauce season be sure to try them. Also loved their fried artichokes and a dish of big mushrooms with local iberico ham (wish I could remember the name) but all their tapas are terrific. Likewise Cal Pep in the Born is terrific. If you go with a foursome in the winter at, say 7PM they’ll let you into the back dining room if you promise to leave by 9ish when their reservations come in. Or you can make a reservation for dinner in the back.
We also liked the Café de L’Academia, near Placa Jaume and Placa St Just, on Calle Lledo, 1, 933, 198 253, dark and also atmospheric, a nice lunch place. You can order half portions of most everything.
If you happen to like Amatriciana Sauce, Oblo, Carrer de l'Escar, 10-16 (Palau del Far Port Vell) Open most of the day, you don't need reservations.