Joaquín Costa sign
Typical of the long, narrow streets you find in the Raval area of Barcelona, Joaquín Costa has an eclectic range of shops, bars and restaurants, as well as one of Barcelona’s most renowned theatres (the Goya, recently restored) and, in the same building, the Centre Aragonés that organises social activities relating to Catalunya’s neighbouring community (both at number 68).
In terms of shops, as well as A la Premsa d’aquell dia (nº. 44), which sells historic newspapers (see below), other notable retail inhabitants of Joaquín Costa are Fantastik (nº. 62) and Rufus (nº. 9). Fantastik is a shop of weird and wonderful knick-knacks, which has been in its present home since May. Previously located on Carrer Mercé, owner Juanra Esteban said: “I always wanted to have my shop in El Raval, so when I found the premises here on Joaquín Costa I immediately loved it and decided to bring things here.” Just down the road, Rufus skate shop is owned by Italian Ricardo Dave. “I wanted to bring my shop to somewhere where there was a real skate ‘vibe’,” he explained. “Everyone knows that in Barcelona, that’s in El Raval, and I was able to find this shop right by MACBA, which is a popular hangout place for skaters.” There’s also the surprisingly-named Bubub (nº. 29), which is a former toy shop (the source of that name) turned greengrocer’s. The owners have a plot of land out in El Prat and they sell their produce direct from there in a kind one-horse farmer’s market.
Like many areas in the Raval, Joaquín Costa has won a following amongst the young going-out crowd of Barcelona, and in the evenings, many otherwise innocuous grey shutters go up to reveal a range of drinkeries and eateries. At number 56 is the Betty Ford Bar, owned by Australian Dave Kalucy and serving a range of international beers as well as home-made deli burgers. “I was looking to open a bar which had a flavour of back home,” Kalucy said, “and I’ve found that being in Barcelona, there’s a lot of leeway for you to try something a bit different.” Along the street, you’ll also find the recently-opened The dog is hot (nº. 47), specialising in hot dogs, Oddlands bar (nº. 52), with its Smurf-decorated toilets and Original Pizza (nº. 47), which some claim as the best place for your Four Seasons or Margarita in the city.
A la Premsa d'aquell dia
In A la Premsa d’aquell dia..., you’ll find yesterday’s news literally stacked high to the ceiling in the form of old newspapers and magazines, which can be bought as original birthday, wedding or anniversary gifts. Rosa Uzeu and her husband Roberto have been selling historic periodicals since 1994; they’ve had their shop in Joaquín Costa for four years, before which they were just round the corner in Carrer Tigre.
They have about 500,000 items in stock, found by scouring markets such as the Encants and putting ads in modern-day newspapers. “Three years ago we were lucky and found a man who had bought La Vanguardia every day for the last 40 years and was willing to sell them to the shop,” said Rosa. “These things don’t happen very often though.”
The stock ranges from issues of the now defunct Diario de Barcelona to old editions of Hola from the Fifties, as well as sports journals and editions of the first Catalan magazine, D’Aci d’Alla. Newspapers cost €39 and magazines €37.
Talking about Joaquín Costa, Rosa said that she preferred the previous location due to its proximity to the dancehall La Paloma. “You used to see all the ladies dressed up and off to dance—it was a special place; the street was alive but here it’s a bit different, a little younger.”