Lunch here is usually not the salty pretzels, cold croissant or intravenous coffee one generally eats quickly above the keyboard, between e-mails, emergencies of all sort, not even realizing that something enters one´s stomach. Oh, no! The Barcelonians know their lunch. They take their time and eat a proper menu, with first course, second course, dessert and coffee. They talk and debate every little aspect of the day, the month, the world, everything. Just imagine that even when the eating is done they go on, doing what is called the “sobremesa”, which means just that, hanging around at the table and keeping the blablabla mode on 🙂
Restaurants, big and small, offer lunch menus at quite affordable prices and there are generally options to choose from. The lunch hours are somewhere between 13 and 16.
Part of what I love not only in this city, but generally speaking, are the connections, the sense of “home”, the kind words, the special friendships which become classics. You can see this a lot in the restaurants here, at lunch, because people tend to go to the same place at least once or twice a week. I think it is simply beautiful! People already know your weird food options, you already know their specials, there are smiles and just a good vibe.
Lucky me, I have been able to build some traditions regarding my lunch routine and I think it is a perfect moment to disconnect. I do not go out every day for lunch and of course that eating out so much has its negatives also, but for me the sense of belonging somewhere, even in a little restaurant in the narrow streets of Gracia, was always of utmost importance.
This is why I was so saddened when I heard one of my favorite restaurants had just closed. I could not stop thinking that in this city people tend to group and queue at the most hispter-ish, popular and frequently artificial places, recommended in some well-known tourist guide or by some local influencer. I am not saying that it not a good option, to each his own, but I have the feeling that many people are missing out on really nice and authentic places. That goes even for expats, who are mostly invading the same spots, over and over again. Meanwhile, real treasures are just hidden and some of them are disappearing, unfortunately.
My goal here is to also offer a different perspective and recommend places not so well-known (maybe just yet), because I think that is where the magic of this city and its unique spirit lay. That is not to say that the crowded “en vogue” locals are not great, because some of them are and I´ll of course share some of them too.
So, to the point, I´ll also share some tips for lunch. Each time I see a tourist paying for an over priced mediocre paella, which by the way it is not even traditional in Catalunya, my heart hurts a little. Just blend in the city´s spirit, people! 🙂 There is so much to discover and many times the nicest spots are found by scrolling the city´s streets, not the Facebook news feed 🙂
My first suggestion is La Singular
I mean the one located in Gracia, Carrer Francisco Giner 50, pretty close to metro Diagonal, here. There is one with a similar name close to Sagrada Familia, I have no idea about that one, there is no connection, I think.
The restaurant is little and cozy, very little personal place between tables 🙂 The ceilings are high, the building is a typical Gracia neighborhood one. The walls are colorful and it has a bit of a vintage aspect and by that I mean that the restaurant looks quite old. 🙂 The kitchen is tiny. There is also the option for you to have a seat at the bar.
They also have a nice menu for evening, but my focus here is lunch. The lunch hours are 13-16, they generally offer 4 options for the first course, 4 for the second, 3 for dessert, from which you can choose. The price is fixed, 10.50 eur and it also includes bread and a drink (water, wine or beer). It does get a bit crowded at around 14, so better to go early. Also, if you are part of the group, just keep in mind that they´ll not seat you until you are all there 🙂
The vibe is really, really nice, there are many locals, the service is good, even though they tend to rotate a lot of staff. The chef is pure awesomeness and the food is simply amazing. They are famous for their amazing salads, with the apparent simple combinations, but great results. They tend to use ingredients adapted to the season and their focus is mainly traditional, but with a twist. For instance, the last Monday´s salad had: quinoa, pumpkin, pomegranate and beetroot. Quite autumn-ish, I would say.
So, the salads are a must. Each Monday they have fideua, which simply put is the traditional paella here 🙂 I do not really like it too much, but sometimes they have variations which are quite tasty:
*My photos are not too great, the light in there is not very good. The featured photo I used for this post is from their website.
My favorite dishes are the lemon chicken, the chicken crepes, the tortilla with all the different twists and the saffron canelones. The soups are just to die for, especially the pumpkin one in the autumn and the gazpacho in the summer.
But this is just naming a few, there are so many more. They use spices and the most surprising combinations. Some examples (bad photos, I know, sorry):
A final special mention to the dessert. Yummyness! The cakes are homemade and with season ingredients. Some of the tastiest ever are the orange cake and the cardamom apple one. They generally serve them a bit heated and with some milk. If cakes are not your thing, they almost always have the specific Catalan dessert, mel i mato, which is yoghurt with honey or you can just ask for some fruits.
I am a very picky eater, but I always find something delicious here. I am not sure how they stand from the allergies-intolerance-vegetarian point of view, but I think there are options for everybody.
If you have time after eating, this is a good starting point for exploring Gracia, one of the most vibrant Barcelonian neighborhoods. Just walking a bit up you can find a Plaza to chill and from there the sky is yours.
Give it a try and let me know if you liked it! 🙂