Gats

It’s tempting to believe that any establishment in an area frequented by tourists is, by definition, a tourist joint. Happily some restaurants disprove that theory – restaurants such as Gats.

Just metres away from the horrible tourist sangria and paella joints on Las Ramblas, Gats may as well be in a different country. That’s not to say tourists don’t go there (it is Barcelona, after all), but it appeals to locals as well. 

And why not? The food, service, and ambience are all decent.

The menu includes a range of the expected tapas dishes, such as croquettas, Padrón peppers, and patatas bravas. It also extends to ceviches, some imaginative salads, rice dishes and mains.

When I last visited it was a wintry night that called for some warming comfort food, and the ‘mountain paella’ – with mushrooms, Catalan sausage and asparagus – answered the call. It’s a nicely rich rice dish (served in a hot iron pan), though I feel I remember having it before with rabbit or chicken pieces. I may be wrong about that, but they’d be a nice addition.

And because I spend altogether too much time in tapas bars, green vegetables, in the form of a green bean salad with smoked sardine and horseradish was a real winner. The little chunks of smokey, salty sardine are nicely balanced by the horseradish bite.

There may not be many surprises on the menu at Gats, but everything I’ve eaten here lives up to its promise, and hardly breaks the bank. It’s definitely on my return list.

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Louro

The lobster rice is popular

Yes, Las Ramblas can be tourist hell. But not everything here is yellow paella and sangria in mugs.

There are no touts on the street tempting you up the stairs to Louro in the Centro Galego, which is the first good sign. The specialty here is Galician fare, in case the locale wasn’t enough of a hint.

The kitchen turns out some dishes of varying sophistication and success. Our last meal included some perfect padron peppers, gratinated scallops that were a little overpowered by the topping, plain steamed mussels that were clearly fresh but would have benefitted from some sauce, and some utterly spectacular smoked anchovies on toast. 

After several previous visits we finally relented and had lobster rice for a main. It seems this dish goes to just about every table in the restaurant, but there’s a reason for that – it is very, very good, and good value too by Barcelona standards at €24 per person (min 2 pers). 

Our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable, and suggested a perfect wine for the occasion as well.

While there’s almost nothing to recommend in Las Ramblas from a dining perspective, Louro stands out by a country mile. We’ll definitely be back.

Tel: 937 308 280

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Cera 23

Cera 23 is another delightful small restaurant in El Raval, Barcelona

The first restaurant in the area by the people behind Arume, Cera 23 is a slightly less popular destination, with a more straightforward menu. Solid work from the kitchen and efficient wait staff. Go hungry though – the serves are big.

Book ahead.

Large serves at Cera 23 in El Raval, Barcelona. Go hungry

Carrer de la Cera, 23

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