Another beautiful night here in Barcelona. The sky is clear, there’s a bit of a chill, and the streetlamps cast their yellow glow down over the growing buzz of nightlife. Crowds fill the bars and restaurants, spilling out into the streets – let’s join them; let’s hit the town.
I’m a firm believer that a special night like this deserves to be celebrated in a special venue, and as it so happens I’ve got a certain special venue in mind. A place I’ve always wanted to share and one of my favorite spots in Barcelona: El Nacional.
Right? Let’s just take a minute here and appreciate the view. What a beautiful building! The smell of amazing food! Don’t you just love all the vintage touches in the decor? This place is always packed! Wondering what is going on here!? Let me explain!
The first (of many) impressive things here at El Nacional is the sheer size of the hall. It’s a little hard to believe the history here but this gorgeous, posh, urban gastronomic oasis was once upon a time a textile factory, then a sort of parking garage. Thankfully, some enterprising, sensible, individuals decided that the center of Barcelona deserved something more interesting. Definitely an upgrade. Now thanks to their hard work you can find a variety of restaurants, a cocktail bar, a raw bar, a bar specializing in jamón and cheese, plus a tea house! Quite the variety indeed 😉 I’m a bit peckish so let’s start with my favorite of the restaurants.
“La Llotja” translates to “the fish market”, the place where fishermen would offload and sell their daily catch. Likewise, the restaurant does the same, allowing the customer to select their dinner from the freshest catches of the day. Just ask the waiter what they’ve got and they will guide you further. All the seafood dishes here are sure to please your palate.
One of my favorite dishes on offer and the one I would definitely recommend anyone try would be the Suquet de Rape (monk fish), a hearty soup with a deep, rich, complex seafood flavor.
Variety and freshness rule supreme in La Llotja. Choose the fish you want direct them how you’d like it prepared, and rest assured that no matter what your choice was or whether you asked for it grilled, fried, or some other traditional way it’s going to blow you away with fresh flavor.
Oh, and if you can do try the Dorada in Salt! It’s delicious!
For the meat lovers La Braseria offers some choice options, both from local suppliers and from around the world. Everything available is a prime cut, dry-aged to perfection, some for over 60 days :O!
They pride themselves for their award winning ox meat “El Capricho” which was declared the best ox meat in the world!
With our appetite satiated (for now) let’s relax a bit and enjoy the elegant, slightly chaotic buzz of El Nacional. At times like this I love to sit at the raw bar, order a few oysters, sip on a fine glass of cava (which you could easily call Spanish champagne), and just breathe in the atmosphere.
As always, you know I never miss a chance for a great tuna tartar!
Here at El Nacional this delicious dish comes accompanied with equally delicious homemade bread, gently anointed with the best butter in the world!
The cava is amazing, the bread is fantastic, the butter is even better, but I haven’t yet introduced you to the mouth watering stars of the show – the oysters! Here they have quite a few on offer, my favorites are the French oysters though I love trying them all. In this photo I have the four varieties they serve: French, Galician and another two whose names the cava took 😉
With a break between courses I feel the need to powder my nose, so off I go to one of the most photographed spots in Barcelona – the bathrooms of El Nacional. Oh, not the scenery you expected? Understandable, but seriously, the lighting here is great for photos, a brief check around the internet and you’ll notice this strange phenomena. I’ll admit personally I’ve taken many a selfie here with all of my friends.
In the picture behind me you can see a brief glance back in time, some photos of what once was a simple parking lot in the heart of Barcelona.
Full of fresh seafood, perfectly crafted steak, deliciously prepared oysters, and maybe just a glass or two of effervescent cava let’s walk a few meters and change the scene entirely. Go ahead and try some of the cocktails at the bar area; grab a few drinks and spend a few relaxed minutes taking in the vintage inspired decor.
Just like all of this wasn’t enough, we’ve got another un-missable stop to make; a bar of the fancy Pata Negra Jamon where slices of perfectly cured jamon iberico are served with a variety of cheese and wine. Pata Negra is one of the most famous brands of cured ham you can find anywhere in the world, the pork is a special breed, Black Iberian pigs, which were fed a special natural diet, set loose to roam a private forest to happily enjoy their. Some of these hams are cured up to 48 months!
Leaving this always entertaining place, I want one last photo to remember this fantastic night. Oh, how about a picture with one of the most breathtaking architectural creations on the planet? Why yes, I think that will do. A quick stop for a photo with La Pedrera (or Casa Mila if you prefer) – another one on top the thousand I already have, because why not? It never stops being amazing, so I don’t have to stop being amazed by it. Can you believe people actually still living here? I guess it must be like living in a museum, or gigantic work of art.
A quick “Hello!” to the little sister as well (little for its size, but in fact Casa Batllo was built few years before La Pedrera). Back in the days the owners paid Antonio Gaudi to design their homes on Passeig de Gracia, partly to impress their neighbors. Typically the first floor would be assigned to the owners and the rest of the floors will be dedicated to rental businesses. The Catalans always had an eye for the profit 😉
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our little night out at El Nacional, I certainly did. It never fails to excite, beguile, charm and will always have a special place in my heart.
On to our next adventure!