What I did and saw:
Jardins de Rubió I Lluch-
Outside the Library of Catalunya is a courtyard and garden area called Jardins de Rubió I Lluch. It is a cool space that also has a giant size chess board set up for use. After visiting the place a few times, my experience was unfortunately sullied by having my phone pickpocketed one time I was there.
La Capella is an event and art space next to Jardins de Rubió I Lluch. When I was there it was free to enter, and the current exhibition was called, "A break can be what we are aiming for." There was a tent made out of repurposed plastic bags that could go inside, and there were also other interesting displays around the space.
Sandeman's walking tour-
While the Sandeman's free walking tour goes through the Barri Gotic and El Born areas of Barcelona, their paid "Forbidden Tour" goes through the Raval area. As with the other tours I have been on with Sandeman's I would definitely recommend this tour as a way to get more background and context to the city. The guide was very well researched and made the tour very interesting.
The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona) was put into the Raval area in an effort to gentrify it, but it has become a haven for skaters. Every day I've ever walked past the MACBA there are always plenty of people on skateboards in front of the museum, and it is known even outside Barcelona as a famous skateboarding spot.
One of the most iconic spots in Barcelona is La Rambla. Around Catalonia there are many different Ramblas that are large walkways surrounded by shops and restaurants. The most famous Rambla forms the border between El Raval and the Barri Gotic. While there are a few gems to be found along La Rambla, the majority of places there are tourist traps.
Pop up Time Out Market-
There are TimeOut Markets in cities like Lisbon, Boston, and Miami. They are essentially giant food courts that curate some of the best food from the area. While there is not a permanent TimeOut Market in Barcelona (at least not yet), they did have a pop up market showcasing some amazing food from the area. The pop up was held at the Museu Marítim de Barcelona (Maritime Museum), which provided a nice setting to enjoy great, local food for a good price.
Mercat de La Boqueria-
One of the most famous site in Barcelona is the Mercat de la Boqueria. Located on the iconic La Rambla, it is a bustling food market. It can get very heavily crowded by tourists, and there can be some spots in the market catering to overpaying tourists. While there will still be some locals doing their dining and shopping there, I prefer to shop at other markets like Mercat de Sant Antoni and Mercat de Santa Caterina. That being said, it is definitely worth walking through, provided you are not claustrophobic (and keep a hand on your phone/wallet).
Where I ate and drank:
The oldest cocktail bar in Barcelona is Boadas, just off La Rambla. It is a small little place, but it is incredibly high quality. After its opening in 1933, Boadas has become a Barcelona institution and a place I would highly recommend for great cocktails.
El Drapaire de la Cervesa Artesana-
If you want a good beer selection close to Placa de Catalunya, El Drapaire de la Serves Artesena is the best place I've found. They have an extensive craft beer menu, and they also offer a small food menu.
Ølgod Craft Beer Bar
Likes its sister location Kælderkold, Ølgod is a great place to get craft beer. Unlike Kælderkold, both the square footage and their food menu are bigger at Ølgod.
Olofson has a location in Eixemple, and the also opened up a spot in Raval. They specialized in craft beer and smoked food, both of which are delicious. They have a nice selection of craft brews, and have smoked meat, fish, and even smoked whip cream (with a brownie) on their food menu. Also, the staff there were excellent and friendly.
With a few locations around Barcelona, Flax&Kale offers a nice menu with healthy, tasty options. Its a great spot for any time of day, but I especially like their breakfast options.
Frankie Gallo Cha Cha Cha-
The best pizza I've had in Barcelona was at Frankie Gallo Cha Cha Cha. However, it is one of the more expensive pizza places in Barcelona.
Like its sister restaurants in the city (Milk and Firebug), Marmalade is a nice cocktail bar at night and a nice brunch spot in the morning. They offer excellent cocktails on their menu and have a nice selection of both healthy (but tasty), and indulgent items on their brunch menu.
33/45 Bar & Gallery-
With comfy, well worn couches and a well-priced drink menu, 33/45 can be a nice place to hang out. They have the best priced Negroni's I've found in Barcelona, and also offer a small food menu.
Owned by the same group that owns other excellent craft cocktail bars like Paradiso and Dr. Stravinsky, La Confiteria is an excellent, high quality spot. They are set up like an old candy shop and they offer an excellent cocktail menu.
A coffee spot and cafe during the morning hours and a craft beer and wine bar during the night hours, Caravelle serves tasty food and drink all day long. They have a number of great options to choose from to drink and eat all throughout the day and into the night.
Dalston Coffee Barcelona-
If you are looking for a quality coffee on the go, Dalston is a great place to pick one up from.
Like its sister restaurant La Pachuca, El Pachuco is one of my favorite Mexican spots in Barcelona. Due to this (and their quaint space), however, there can be a long wait at peak times.
As its name would suggest, unlike the other Nomad locations in Barcelona, Nomad's location in Raval is open 7 days a week. They offer excellent coffee, but my two favorite things there are the nitro cold brew and the affogato (with gelato from DelaCrem). They also serve a few limited (but tasty) food options.
The dog is hot-
The dog is hot serves pork, beef, and veggie hot dogs with toppings like mushrooms, bacon, and guacamole. You can choose one of their recommended combinations or make one of your own.
Set in a building that doesn't look like it has seen many renovations since it opened in the early 1800's, Bar Marsella specializes in absinthe. Famous figures such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Ernest Hemingway are said to have frequented Bar Marsella. They serve their absinthe with a water bottle you can use to create the "louche" effect where the spontaneous emulsification causes the green drink to turn milky white.
A "five star dive bar," Two Schmucks offers great cocktails for good prices in a cool, laid back environment.
If you are looking for a good slice of pizza for a great value, Pizza Circus is a great place to stop at.
Wok To Walk-
Like its location in the gothic quarter, Wok to Walk is a great place to grab cheap food on the go. It is like an East Asian Subway/Chipotle style restaurant. You pick your base (noodle/rice/etc), protein, toppings, and sauce, and they cook it there in front of you.
Departure Coffee Co-
Departure Coffee Co is one of my favorite places to get coffee in Barcelona and to get breakfast in Barcelona. Their coffee is excellent, and it is also a good place to use wifi to get some work done.
Another spot in Raval with a great beer selection is Beer'linale. They also have a very good food menu.
Like its location in Eixample and other locations around Barcelona, Chivuos is a great place to get an excellent sandwich and a quality craft beer.
Like Bar Marsella, Casa Almirall is another absinthe spot that has been open since the 1800's. However, they have since done a bit of updating to their interior.
My favorite thing:
I really enjoyed learning about the history of El Raval. Also there are some really cool (and relatively inexpensive spots to be found in Raval.
My least favorite thing:
While Raval is a safe area, I found out the hard way that you have to be careful of pickpockets.
For next time:
Next time in Raval I would like to explore Palau Güell, eat at Dos Palillos and Suculent, and try the drinks at Negroni Cocktail Bar and the Caribbean Club.
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