The relatively unassuming entrance on Carrer del Parlament in Barcelona doesn't give away Anardi's excellence with Basque cuisine
Behind this modest street frontage lies a real Basque gem

I’ve got a confession: I must have walked past Anardi hundreds of times before stopping in for the first time recently. Basque food in Barcelona? How good could it be?

I have another confession: I’m an idiot.

Now we have that out of the way…

There are a lot of restaurants on Carrer del Parlament, and some stand out from the crowd while others disappoint.

Anardi is definitely one of the former.

The specialty here is Euskadi – or Basque Country – cuisine. There is an assortment of pinxos on the bar, and plenty of seafood and beef on the menu. 


The pinxos, a Basque speciality, operates the usual way. Grab a plate, select as much as you want, keep the toothpicks, and the bill is calculated on how many of those you have left. When a fresh batch comes out of the kitchen, the staff may bring it around to the tables. 

On our first visit this included some txistorra sausage, which is and overlooked gem of Spanish cuisine in my opinion, and some avocado done tempura style with a spicy mayonnaise. Both were absolutely glorious – my mouth is watering just remembering them.

Deep-fried avocado pinxo at Anardi in Barcelona
Deep-fried avocado pinxo? Oh, yes

The gildas are spectacular too, which is always a good sign.

On our first visit we were disappointed to be told some items weren’t available. Both the spider crab croquettes and truffled meatballs sounded tempting. But we were delighted with the alternatives we selected, including baby squid and ink croquettes that were so good we returned and had them again within a week. 

Bigger Basque plates

Of a number of egg dishes we chose a tortilla de bacalao, which teamed some tender salty cod with the eggs to great effect. On the seafood theme, a grilled octopus leg with a smoked cheese mash lived up to its promise as well.

With that much food under our belts, the beef we opted for was a picaña a la brasa, which is a rare sliced rump steak delivered to the table with a hot plate to finish as you like. Nice. There’s a 500g steak available, for a genuine Basque experience, but it would definitely have been too much for us.

If ever there was a lesson in not judging a book by its cover, Anardi is it. The main reason I haven’t been before is because from the street it looked a bit unassuming. But the front bar area actually has a nice feel. And there are a couple of tables on the footpath, which are lovely on a warm evening.

Whether you should travel to Barcelona for Basque cuisine is a decent question, but that said, paella isn’t a Catalan dish either. And when food is this honest and reasonably priced, why not?

I’m definitely going back.

Maybe next week. I might even take some better photos next time!


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Camping Mar

Diners under umbrellas in the sun at Camping Mar, Barcelona
Al fresco is nice

We’re not really the camping types at LITBarcelona, but we would return to Camping Mar. The draw here is paella by the waterside. (No, it is not a camping ground – apparently the staff frequently turn away disappointed campers!)

I know paella isn’t a traditional Catalan meal, but what tourists demand, tourists get, and there are paellas in Barcelona of significantly variable quality.

What I can say is that the paellas at Camping Mar are at the higher end of that scale. There may be better offerings in town – and certainly cheaper ones – but Camping Mar remains on our list for a number of reasons.

Location is one factor. Set in a lovely open pavilion, with tables under cover or al fresco out the front overlooking a marina, you couldn’t ask for a nicer place to while away a sunny afternoon.

Squid ink cuttlefish paella and a wet crayfish paella. Nice!
Paellas are the main attraction

It is situated on the ‘wrong’ side of the W hotel, by which I mean not the side facing the beach, where another not-dissimilar outlet from the same group called Pez Vela sits. To be honest, we were at Camping Mar because Pez Vela didn’t have space when we tried to book, but it did give us a chance to try something new. And really, walking back to town after lunch was hardly a challenge. 

Service is another factor, with (in my experience) attentive and friendly wait staff on hand to look after you. This is not a place where you’ll sit on an empty glass for too long. Nice job.

The paellas

After a couple of starters we opted for a black rice with cuttlefish and artichoke, and a brothy crayfish rice (€24 and €26 per person, respectively) along with a crisp verdejo. 

Light-filled interior at Camping Mar, Barcelona
The ‘interior’ is quite pleasant too

Both paellas were big on flavour, though the cuttlefish was my preferred option. The chunks of cuttlefish were nice and tender, if a little unevenly mixed through the rice, and the flavour spoke of fresh seafood and a nice briny, umami hit from the squid ink. I’d definitely have it again. The crayfish was rich in the way you’d expect, but didn’t really shine like the cuttlefish.

But ultimately, it’s the sum of its parts that make Camping Mar: It’s a pretty location; the service is attentive; and the food is genuinely good. Enjoying it in good company made it that much nicer. It’s a long way from the cheapest paella experience in Barcelona, but it is one of the nicest.

Tel: +34 934 088 901


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Pez Vela

Glorious terrace in the Summer sun at Pez Vela in Barcelona
Lovely terrace overlooking the beach

This review may be coloured by the fact that I just had a 5.5-hour paella lunch with some friends at Pez Vela. So…

It didn’t start brilliantly. We were left standing at the entrance for five full minutes. The wait staff assured us the front-of-house person would look after us soon, but it was busy. On a Monday.

Our last visit was on a cool winter’s day, and there were no outside tables occupied, and it was cosy. The full terrace is big, and the staff do seem to struggle to cope. To be fair, this sort of seasonal staffing must be difficult to manage.

That said, our waiter had a sense of humour. Some unfizzy Aperol spritzs were returned and replaced no-questions-asked. And the vibe of the place was just lovely. I suspect we were lucky to have avoided the weekend, because from my seat I could see the poolside DJ at the W but thankfully could barely hear any muzak. Who the hell needs a poolside DJ? The W gets marked down a notch in my estimation.

The food

The meal consisted of a green salad with white asparagus, fried red prawns (a special), octopus leg, and a paella with squid, prawns and clams. A bottle of albariño made a nice accompaniment.

Fried Mediterranean prawns. Delicious.
The prawns were a special, buy oh, my, they were good

The salad was as expected, the prawns very nicely done and flavourful like only these Mediterranean prawns seem to manage, and the pulpo tender and packed with flavour too. So far so good.

The rice was actually one of the better ones I’ve had in a while – a nice saffron kick to start, and lovely umami seafood flavours. Win.

Paella ta Pez Vela in Barcelona. It may not photograph well, but it's tasty!
Not necessarily photogenic, but tasty

We finished with a more punchy verdello and a nougat ice cream and chocolate cake (described by our waiter friend as “not very exciting”!) and they were just fine. 

A few after-lunch drinks as the sun dipped towards the horizon, along with some people-watching and goal-keeping with the kids playing soccer right in front finished the day perfectly.

I can see why it’s popular, paella by the beachfront in Barcelona doesn’t get much better than this. It’s nice in the wintertime, but that terrace is just spectacular on a lovely sunny early summer’s day.

Tel: +34 932 216 317


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