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This square marks the central hangout spot for residents of the close-knit, village-esque neighbourhood of Barceloneta. Four generations can be seen here—families shopping at the striking, modern market, grandpas challenging their granddaughters to a game of ping pong, kids crawling around the playground—and there are plenty of hole-in-the-wall bars and eateries teeming with crowds both young and old. The best part of this unassuming plaça? Everyone seems to know one another.
BALUARD BARCELONETA. Baluard 38.
Forn Baluard is the Holy Grail for bread enthusiasts. Suppliers to the best restaurants in town, the quality of their artisanal goods—from the Baluard baguette to the two-kilogramme pa de fruits secs or the cannoli with a hint of orange zest—is unrivalled. The queue that regularly stretches out into the square can attest to this. “We fell in love with the bread here before anyone told us this was the best bakery in town,” said Ruben, who is currently living in North Carolina, but just bought an apartment in Barcelona. His partner, Robin, said, “The woman behind the counter is so friendly and generous. Her smile adds to the ambience.”
BARCELONETA BIKES. L’Atlàntida 49.
Three years ago, when founding member of Barceloneta Bikes Tony Valcárcel first started out, his customers were just close friends. Now hundreds of people come into his bike store every week. At Barceloneta Bikes, they sell, rent and repair bikes, specialising in Fixies. Every Wednesday at 8.30pm, they lead a night ride around the city in the spirit of the quote above the shop’s front door: ‘Feel free, let’s pedal’.
KÈ? Baluard 54.
If you’re looking for a spot that you can go to alone, where you may even make a friend or two while downing exceptional cocktails, this is the watering hole for you. Joe, an American who now lives in Barceloneta, said, “I’m part of the loyal local following that spends too much time here. There’s a nice terrace, fun staff and a laidback atmosphere. It reminds me of a place I would have gone to when I lived in San Francisco.” With its funky design and beer keg stools, Ké is definitely more bar than café, but their café con leche is actually amazing, too.
THE ONLY FISH IN THE SEA. L’Atlàntida 47.
To create your own sea oasis at home or to give a maritime touch to your outfit, look no further than this delightful shop, with the typical Barceloneta sardina as its mascot. Owner María Ergui used to be the Art Director for Viajes National Geographic, but gave it all up to open The Only Fish in the Sea. For two and a half years, she has been selling unique nautical knickknacks, apparel and jewellery. Come in and treat yourself to a pair of beaded dolphin earrings or a yellow submarine tea infuser. Pick up a ‘send a message in a bottle’ kit or a wooden seagull puppet for a youngster you know. Or purchase a framed nautical map that has been decorated and made into wall art. The one-of-a-kind products are endless.
GELAB. Baluard 52.
A new ice cream concept has exploded onto the scene in Barceloneta. At Gelab, you pick your base flavour, which is then poured into their ‘magic ice cream maker’ (a mixer that flash freezes the liquid concoction with blasts of nitrogen and churns it until it’s smooth and creamy). Next, choose from a variety of toppings, both fruity and chocolatey. The result is natural ice cream that is totally customisable and rather tasty.
LA COVA FUMADA. Baluard 56.
Opened in 1944, ‘The Smoked Cave’ is an authentic family-run bodega and one of the most beloved gastronomic icons in Barceloneta. It’s a place to roll up your sleeves and put your smartphone away, lest the screen gets covered in grease from your fingers. You’ll need to arrive early for a cramped and possibly shared table with local workers and neighbourhood regulars. Then, from an almost prehistoric blackboard, take your pick of enduring menu items such as their original spicy potato bomba, unbeatable marinated sardines, tender fried artichokes and chickpeas with black pudding.