Europe Articles & Reviews
Locals' Guide to Barcelona
In Barcelona, a capital of Mediterranean culture, cool, and incredible food, we asked nine plugged-in locals to tell us about their favorite restaurants, galleries, shops, and more.
The Production Designer: Antxón Gómez
Pedro Almodóvar’s cinematic magic owes much to the visuals of his longtime art director and production designer Antxón Gómez, whose Almodóvar credits range from the current hit, Broken Embraces, to 1999’s All About My Mother, which was set in Barcelona. “This city is a mosaic,” he says. “Sun, art, design, history, food, with the backdrop of soft hills and the sea.” In the 1980’s, Gómez helped launch such iconic nightspots as the now-defunct Zig Zag Bar, Barcelona’s first real design bar, and the legendary club Otto Zutz (drinks for two $28). These days, he might also be spotted at the chic Mon Key Club at Hotel Omm (drinks for two $30), dapper in clothes and accessories from theOutpost or Muntaner 385. Among his favorite Barcelona attractions: rambles in the Gaudí-designed Parc Güell and tapas at the crowded counter of Cal Pep (lunch for two $88).
The Gallerist: Natalia Foguet
Contemporary art dealer Natalia Foguet is a patriot of her neighborhood, Gràcia, where her eclectic Galería Safiahas been showing the work of emerging international artists for over a decade. “Gràcia has preserved a small-town vibe,” she says, and is full of pedestrian lanes and small plazas where old-world vermouth bodegas likeVermutería del Tano (drinks for two $15) coexist with boho-chic shops like the fashion boutique Naftalina (34/93-237-2567). She also recommends the whimsical traditional toys at Bateau Lune and stylish haircuts at Anthony Llobet Salon, which is staffed with multilingual, London-trained stylists.
The Director: Pau Miró
Thirty-five-year-old playwright and director Pau Miró is a rising star on Spain’s theater scene. Jirafas (the last installmenst of his Trilogía de lo Animal, a tragicomic trilogy with absurdist overtones) was performed at Sala Beckettand is set in the Raval neighborhood, which inspires his work with its “charged urban cocktail” of hipness and seediness. Miró often shares a leather booth at Bar Raval (drinks for two $18) with theater and film people, and says he loves the personal service at Discos Castelló, part of “a disappearing breed” of truly independent music shops. He also recommends the stationery store Paperam, “one of those shops that transport you back in time.”
The Entrepreneur: Helena Garriga
A Catalonia-born graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, in New York City, Helena Garriga has worked for the likes of Moschino and Jean Paul Gaultier. Now she’s a curator of edibles, assembling the choicest local and international foodstuffs at her new shop, La Cuina d’en Garriga. The sweet-savory pan-con-tomate bonbons at La Cuina come from pastry artist Carles Mampel of Bubó; the buttery bread loaves studded with dried fruits and nuts are from Forn Baluard. Garriga also loves the seafood and rice dishes at the neo-traditional El Suquet de l’Almirall(dinner for two $83) and the eclectic cuisine served around the communal table at the arty yet homey Tapioles 53(prix fixe dinner for two $104). Her pick for the best picnic spot? The saltwater swimming pool overlooking the Mediterranean at the new Parc del Fòrum.
The Hotel Guru: Bel Natividad
With an unbeatable location on the Passeig de Gràcia, the new 98-room Mandarin Oriental (doubles from $756) is the city’s most high-profile hotel opening in some time. The hotel’s communications director is Bel Natividad, a Barcelona native who has her finger on the city’s style pulse. For “one-of-a-kind, handmade” leather tops and pants, she recommends Eden Lun, while Complementos Carmina Rotger is her source for earrings and necklaces. She loves strolling through the Galvany Market, where she picks up spinach-and-pine-nut coca (Catalan pizza) at the old-fashioned bakery Forn Roura and stocks up on cotton napkins of all colors and sizes at the MyDrap stand.
The Illustrator: Jordi Labanda
It’s hard to go far in Barcelona—or anywhere in Spain—without encountering the work of illustrator Jordi Labanda, whose glamorous, retro-tinged images can be seen on everything from stationery and T-shirts to Adidas ads. Originally from Uruguay, the prolific 42-year-old artist and fashion designer has resided in Barcelona since he was three: “My life here is balanced and calm yet perfectly modern,” he says. When he’s not drawing or traveling, Labanda might visit the Fundació Joan Miró museum, admire the Modernist serenity of the Pavelló Mies Van der Rohe, or stop for coffee at Els Quatre Gats (coffee for two $12). He also recommends the housewares at the high-concept En Línea Barcelona and the sharply edited couture collection at Jean-Pierre Bua. Labanda’s own products can be found at the emblematic design shop Vinçon and the Corte Inglés department store.
The Architect: Guida Ferrari
Architect, jewelry designer, cultural events organizer—and a swing dancer “addicted to shoes”—the 25-year-old Guida Ferrari exemplifies Barcelona’s creative spirit. Ferrari says she admires the Barcelona Contemporary Culture Center as much for its swaggering glass-clad façade as for the thought-provoking exhibitions inside, and adores Gaudí’s iconic Casa Batlló. On her shopping rounds, Ferrari checks out Iguapop Gallery, an art gallery that doubles as a hip clothing shop; peruses the footwear at Casas International; buys architecture and design books at Galería Ras; and prowls carrer Verdi, in the Gràcia neighborhood—“a one-street destination for young designers’ boutiques.”
The Chefs: Sergio & Javier Torres
Barcelona-born twin chefs Javier and Sergio Torres recently opened Dos Cielos (dinner for two $210) to instant critical raves for their inventive riffs on Catalan food. On their days off, the brothers often eat breakfast at the legendaryPinotxo counter (breakfast for two $25) inside the Boqueria market. Run by another set of twin brothers, Xemei(dinner for two $110) is “a fun, funky Venetian spot with great music and fantastic squid-ink pasta.” For “renovated tradition,” it’s Via Veneto (dinner for two $213), a grand classic helmed by an exciting young chef, Carles Tejedor; and for super-fresh tapas, especially seafood, it’s Bar Mut (tapas for two $69).