Barceloneta was constructed in the 18th century for the residents of the bordering La Ribera district – hundreds of people there were left homeless, when the construction of the Citadel begun. The neighborhood is planned on a triangular piece of land, cutting right into the sea and limited by the old harbor on one side and beaches on the other. Houses here are low-rise – so they would not block the views of the city from the sea.
Walk along the beachfront, and you’ll eventually face one of the remnants of Barcelona’s post-Olympic revamping. Until 1992, Barceloneta was the fishermen’s barrio – and then, came the Olympics. Even though the barrio itself did not change much, the seafront bordering it did. Frank Gehry’s El Peix – “Fish” – is one of the most recognized symbols of that period in the city’s history.
Shimmering of gold, its stainless steel silhouette sits at the foot of luxuriant Hotel Arts, connecting the latter to the seafront. Fish also domes the commercial area, with several food joints, among them Creperie Bretonne Annaick (Ramon Trias Fargas 2-4) is one to remember for your next visit in the area. It is literally one of the coolest places in the entire city, with a design reminiscent of a retro bus. Even better are their signature French buckwheat crepes – so-called galettes – with dozens of savory fillings, from cheese and ham to sautéed vegetables and even salmon with avocado. The sweet versions, with salted caramel or simply ice-cream, are just as good.
Truth be told, as peaceful as Barceloneta looks at first sight, the dining scene here is a different story.
For tapas go to Jai – Ca (Carrer de Ginebra, 13); choose deep-fried calamari rings, anchovies or simply boiled shrimp. At L’Electricitat (Carrer Sant Carles, 15) they manage to make the simplest tapas, like bread slices brushed with sweet juicy tomatoes, or stuffed eggs, taste amazingly great.
For drinks: Santa Marta (Grau i Torras, 59) has one of the best Aperol Spritz in the city; at Makamaka (Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 76) they have spectacular burgers; even better with their signature cocktail Makamaka; Bar Leo (Carrer Sant Carles, 34) might seem basically like a hole in the wall – but locals love it for unique ambiance, Andalusian tunes playing day and nights, and ice-cold cerveza!
Recognizing the history of the neighborhood with the blooming fishing trade, it has a superb offer of traditional restaurants with high-quality seafood on the menu, plus Catalan favorites arroz negro (black rice – receiving this peculiar color from squid ink – and enriched with cuttlefish, calamari rings and shrimp) and fideuá (thin, vermicelli alike, noodles – with seafood).
For seafood and arroz: Kaiku (Plaça del Mar, 1) has arguably the best black rice in Barcelona, and also excellent choice of seafood; at Can Majó (Carrer l’Almirall Aixada, 23) – go for their arroz con bogavante, clams in white wine sauce, or actually pick any item you like (no worries, they have English menu!), the quality is superb either way.
Sightseeing-wise, there is not much too see, other than Gehry’s Fish; and although the old houses retain a certain charm, those who are already spoiled with Art Nouveau splendor of Eixample will probably overlook it. But how much more do you really need, when you’ve got kilometers of sparkling gold sand and shimmering turquoise sea right in front of you?