Barcelona Restaurants

Restaurant Calabrasa, Born, Barcelona

We were in bustling Barcelona visiting  MOCO, the must see museum of modern art. I’ve done a previous blog post about it and we timed it just right so that we could squeeze in lunch before our return to Girona.

Barcelona is constantly buzzing, tourists are everywhere and it seems like it’s become  a victim of its own success. This has led to locals becoming hyper critical of how it’s all playing out. If you live and work around certain parts, I can understand why the negative sentiment Is becoming the norm.

The wider issue of how to handle such overtourism is best left to local lawmakers and I have to sympathise with them somewhat, as in a smaller way we’ve seen what’s happened in Girona over the last decade.

I’m going to leave it there as it’s such a contentious issue. I should add that with the recent local and municipal elections in Spain changes may be afoot. 

We wandered out of MOCO and very quickly ended up in a large square surrounded by bars and eateries. This is Born, a popular neighbourhood close to the old town and relatively central. It has a charming mix of small independent bijou boutiques worth browsing, interspersed with furniture stores full of vintage upcycled pieces and much more. 

Restaurant Calabrasa caught our eye almost instantly, and it had an empty outdoor table. It’s still April but no problem with a light jacket. We had a shared starter of pulled pork, mains were a large cannelloni with mushrooms and an aged beef steak (photo below). I should add that I’ve often seen it listed on other menus as ‘aged cow’, a rather unfortunate literal translation that does it no favours. 

I should add that Barcelona´s continued popularity has inevitably fed into the reality that eating out has become more expensive. Let’s add some context, for tourists that might seem reasonable but as long term residents, knowing what things cost it’s a different metric. It’s hard to shift those memories of dining as a family of four for 80-100 euros but the world has moved on. 

Final bill for 2. With a bottle of white wine, one dessert and coffees came to 88€

Verdict. A couple of hours well spent, nice enough food, forget the cost, enjoy the moment and tomorrow’s another day.


Casa Batllo, Barcelona

The famous Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi left his mark across numerous city locations, the most known has to be the Basilica Sagrada Familia. This still unfinished holy site looms largely as a must see if you visit the city.

His other modernism handiwork can be found writ large in Casa Batllo, in the fashionable downtown Passeig de Gracia. A wide avenue of fine upmarket shops, hotels and eateries attracts a constant stream of tourists. A fair number head to Casa Batllo, an imposing fantastical facade that wouldn’t be out of place in some fairy tale themed Disney movie.

No sane person could possibly walk past here without stopping in their tracks and wondering if reality had taken you into an alternate architectural side turning.

Curvature abounds, curved shaped wood, stonework, metalwork and ceramics is the order of the day. It’s been on our bucket list for ages and we decided to book a visit. The added attraction is the tour includes music and drinks on its roof space. If you’re thinking of planning a night out in Barcelona, it´s an instant lets do it no brainer.
Fast or last, catch it if you can as it is limited to spring and summer sessions.

The gold tour starts with an audio tour via a tablet / headphone combo loaded with your chosen language. You begin by working your way up the numerous floors that the Battlo family lived in. Rooms and living spaces are devoid of furniture as you meander through other slow moving visitors. The tablet offers images of what life was like during that time period but I must admit to just listening to the audio.

The tour ends once you reach the upper level and rooftop, even the shapely chimney stacks are elaborately decorated with broken tile pieces. Those staying for the music are directed to a table, the gold tour includes a glass of cava and about an hour’s worth of music. Performers and music styles are varied and can be all booked online, ours was billed as a jazz, soul, pop, dance trio called Nika Mills Trio.

She sang mostly in English, working her way around the seated guests, encouraging some to sing along. One guy stood up and was a surprisingly good singer, prompting praise from the audience. Our visit was in early April, so remember your jacket as evenings up above street level can feel chilly.

For more info on the house and Magic Nights (visit+concert+drink)


MOCO Barcelona

We´re back in Catalonia´s bustling capital Barcelona for a cultural visit after a long absence. It’s Easter week and the city is busy, it always is. 

It’s nice to combine a visit with a cultural twist and this time MOCO museum has got our attention. Its original birthplace was Amsterdam and their Barcelona offspring opened last year.

Housed within an old stone building in Barcelona’s Born district, the setting for a museum of contemporary art seems odd. One may be expecting sleek, white walled modernistic buildings with plenty of natural lighting but it’s not the case.

The Born neighbourhood is full of narrow streets hosting bijou boutiques, funky bars and galleries. The vibe is super hipster and easy to reach if you’re exploring the old quarter. Plenty of visitors pass through here as it’s also home to the Picasso museum.

However, MOCO has succeeded in thoughtfully transforming this building into a suitable repository of established and upcoming modern artists. These include such illustrious names as Banksy, Basquiat, Warhol, Hirst and Kaws.

Many exhibits are on loan from private collections, the artists themselves and directly purchased by the museum itself. Starting on the ground floor the relatively small rooms are easy to transition through, adorned according to the artist featured. Once you’ve reached the top floor space is dedicated to immersive and digital art themes, such as NFT which is the talk of the town in tech circles.

I was taken by the huge busy canvases of Chilean painter Guillermo Lorca. Featured paintings include lifelike depictions of children so bold and bright. His animal depictions are equally captivating, colourful and thought provoking.

Each exhibit has an English, Catalan and Spanish description. I chose their online based audio tour option but found it was slow to load and respond for my device. I quickly reverted to just reading the text next to each exhibit. Erudite explanations make an interesting read, artists offer up what art and more to the point, what their art means to them.

As a slight aside, I recall watching a programme where artists gave their story behind what they’ve created-which I felt resonated more with me than the finished article.

As with most museums, you exit via the gift shop

They seem to be doing a good job of promoting themselves via social media and I was able to pick up flyers at our hotel which gave a 10% discount off the normal entry price. If this art genre is up your street and can command your attention for a couple of hours, then MOCO Barcelona is a welcome breath of fresh air.