Nata Ramenskaya Pinto
Though Spaniards love and value good coffee, it's a challenge to find a place with a strong and flavored one. We've chosen nine places recommended by locals.
You'll never be able to pass by Cafe Zurich without popping in. Yes, this is truly the most touristy place with ordinary croissants and other pastries bought at a neaby bakery. Still you will be served fine coffee with an ideal proportion of milk. On a cold day you can order hot chocolate with fresh whipped cream on request which is callaed Suizo. The café itself is very traditional. Traditional is the manner they serve coffee and so are the waiters who are in their late fifties or even older. However, they wear white coats and fashionable bowties and work very quickly. Take a coffee with milk saying 'Un directo, por favor' and you'll be taken for a local.
A Catalan coffeshop chain, perfect for breakfast. El Fornet offers a wide choice of bread, sandwiches and local pastries. The tastiest bocatas, small baguettes with a filling cut lengthwise, are those with sesame. Fillings vary from tuna, chicken and jamon to lettuce, pine nuts or even dry fruit.
El mos is the place to buy fresh bread. Here you will find all the variety of baguettes: cereals, nuts, chocolate and dry fruit are only a few ingredients that go into dough. It's a perfect place if you need to have breakfast very early or buy a couple of baguettes for a late dinner. Look out for breakfast specials: coffee or fresh juice and a croissant of the day.
Another tip: сall a baker by his/her name and you'll become a favourite customer who deserves a handful of chocolates or a crispy croissant as a treat.
SandwiChez's witty owners are well aware that a good capuccino and a simple sandwich won't make their cafe a trendy hotspot. That's why they constantly invent new fillings and add new dressings to paninis and bocatas. Guests are offered a choice of 8-grain rolls, small and large bocadillos, paninis, filled and plain croissants, raisin and nut rolls and sometimes eclaires. By midday you can expect ruccola salads with fresh carrots, tomatoes, tuna or chicken, as well as two types of soup. The coffee is quite decent: milk-foam with chocolate coating and a pleasant bitter taste. As for the tea, it is unfortunatelly made from teabags - at least you get a full teapot of hot water. At SandwiChez, you can enjoy simple minimalist interior: wooden tables, iron-leg chairs and large factory windows.
A local coffee shop chain with an eco twist, Buenas Migas has a number of branches scattered around the Old town. The coffee shops are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus they're very easy to find. Once I could get a glimpse into the kitchen, I saw a lot of staff working there, perhaps there were even more people than in the dining hall. Cooks, bakers, confectioners and their assistants were busy frying chicken fillet, making natural youghurt and cooking jam, sauce and marmalade.
Watch out when you order coffee with milk as it can actually turn into "milk with coffee". My tip is to take a look at another guest's coffee. If the drink seems milky, ask for a separate glass of milk.
Next to the counter, you'll see a small cupboard with jars of jam, butter dishes and grated chocolate. So after you order a plain croissant, you can add a couple of spoonfuls of free cheery jam to it.
Should you feel an urge to drink hot chocolate with huge churros, then make your way to Granja Dulcinea. It's a family place that has built up a fantastic reputation over the years. The waiters swear that the chocolate is made from natural cocoa and not powder as they do in many other coffee shops. If I were an owner, I'd separately charge for the aromatherapy as the air is so sweet that it literally makes your mouth water. The place is highly recommended for the sweet-toothed.
Café del Opera
Café del Opera is almost as ancient as its competitor, Café Zurich. Most likely, people come here to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the past. The premises were restored by the famous Catalan architect Antonio Moragas. As a result, the cafe became one of Barcelona's most elegant spots. You'll find various coffee drinks as well as teas, liqueurs, wines, spirits and even some snacks on the menu. Strange as it may seem, the place is not overcrowded with tourists.
This place looks totally attractive on the outside and will even make your mouth water. However, many Barcelonians think it has been spoiled by an ugly plasma TV and shouting and chanting football fans who come here quite regularly. On the positive side, sport channels do not show really interesting matches every day.
Come to the cafe on Sunday at 11 a.m. and you will try the most delicious brunch. You'll love it, especially if you slept over your brekkie at the hotel. On Thursdays guests are offered discounts during happy hours. The сuisine is rather simple: tapas, sandwiches, vegetable salads and plain meet dishes. Internet addicts can use free WiFi, smokers enjoy an intimate terrace.