Eat Like a Local: Barcelona

Nacho Alegre
Can Majo

Sample the city's rich flavor, from tapas and paella to handmade ice cream and pastries baked by nuns.


The confections sold at this candlelit café are baked by Spanish nuns. Many of their creations--flaky almond 'moons' and honey-soaked tuiles with sesame seeds--are on display in the corner picture window. c/de la Palla 8, Barri Gòtic, 011-34/93-302-6993, from $2

Tapioles 53

Australia native Sarah Stothart's almost-two-year-old labor of love is small (just six tables), secret (no sign), and exclusive (dinner only, one seating per night). Expect Stothart, the former personal chef of Rupert Murdoch, to describe each of the day's Mediterranean- and Asian-inspired dishes in great detail tableside. c/Tapioles 53, Poble Sec, 011-34/93-329-2238, closed Sun. and Mon., three courses from $36

Can Majó

Catalans put their own spin on paella. Called fideuá, their variation is made with vermicelli noodles instead of rice. The place to get it is at this 40-year-old family-run beachfront restaurant. Order the "regular" with shrimp and mussels, or a fishier variety cooked in squid ink. c/Almirall Aixada 23, La Barceloneta, 011-34/93-221-5818, $18


The menú del día is a great way to sample Chef Rafael Peña's culinary genius, which he honed under the tutelage of Spain's culinary god, Ferran Adrià. The prix fixe lunch starts with a Parmesan-walnut crisp, best complemented by a glass of cava, Spain's sparkling wine. Menu items change weekly but could include house-marinated anchovies and tender beef cheeks braised in rioja wine. c/Provença 230, L'Eixample, 011-34/93-451-6193, $23


In just a few short months, the humble tapas bar opened by Albert Adrià (brother of the aforementioned Ferran Adrià) has become white-hot. It's standing room only, but you'll feel like part of the club, surrounded by hipsters sharing plates of patatas bravas (home fries in hot sauce and aioli) and garlic chicken wings. c/Tamarit 104, Sant Antoni, 011-34/93-424-5231, tapas from $2

Cuines Santa Caterina

The soaring space has an open kitchen, chunky wood tables, and a tapas bar where specials are scrawled on chalkboards. Locals crowd in at lunchtime for tempura, curry, and terrific vegetarian dishes like grilled asparagus with a zippy romesco sauce. Mercado de Santa Caterina, Avinguda Francesc Cambó 17, La Ribera, 011-34/93-268-9918, entrées from $6

Tomo II

Teresa Vázquez de la Cueva's ice-cream shop in El Born--the original location is in Gracia--is anchored by a circular high-tech freezer that keeps her ice creams and sorbets at an ideal -10 degrees Fahrenheit. She makes them by hand, so there's always a fresh batch. c/Argenteria 61, El Born, 011-34/93-319-7739 (and c/Vic 2, Gracia), from $1.30

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