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.
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.
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.
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
Click here for more of the best dining in Barcelona
Or here for Barcelona’s best hotels