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Mama Shake home
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Carrer de Sant Pere Més Baix, Barcelona
Need to cool down after a long day soaking up the rays on the beach? As you wander home along Via Laietana, take a right into the warren of narrow alleys between Carrer Princesa and the Palau de la Música and you'll find a host of shady terraces, tree-lined pedestrian streets and little squares that are just perfect for kicking back and watching the world go by. Tucked behind the fancy-roofed Mercat Santa Caterina is tiny Plaça Sant Cugat. Lined with bars and restaurants and chock-a-block with tables in the shade, it's a world away from the edginess of adjoining Carrer Carders.
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Alsur Café, Barcelona
Perched on the corner is the Italian-owned Alsur Café (Carders nº. 17). They serve up freshly-pressed juices, mouth-watering tarts crammed with dulce de leche and caipirinhas (3.50 euros) that they brag are the cheapest on the block.
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El Atril, Barcelona
Across the square is El Atril (Carders nº. 23); a laid-back restaurant with live jazz on Wednesday and Thursday nights. With not one but two terraces, the waiters scurry back and forth with signature cocktails and wine. Apparently the Australian owner is a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to vino and plans are afoot to open a bodega across the street in a couple of months. With tables on Plaça Sant Cugat and Lego-inspired furniture inside, Pizza Concept (Fonollar nº. 2) offers pizza for 2 euros a slice, home-made salads and Italian aperitifs. Owner Hugo Percival (who is half-Italian and half-British and must have had one hell of a World Cup) explains the reasoning behind the Lego-like furniture: "If you get angry with your partner, you can take your chair and stick it to someone else." Over at Mama Shake (Fonollar nº. 8), Juan, the Argentinean owner, serves up a mean Expresso Martini and offers a cocktail and tapa combo for 5 euros. Broken hearts whose lovers have positioned their Lego chair elsewhere take note.
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El Forat de la Vergonya, Barcelona
Turn left back onto Carrer Carders and left again onto Carrer Montanyans and you'll find yourself in a big, open square with benches galore, known locally as the 'Forat de la Vergonya' (Hole of Shame). After developers made the hugely unpopular decision of knocking down a series of old buildings a few years ago, the neighbours declared war by sprucing the place up before anyone had a chance to build anything new. A pitch battle ensued and after a long stand-off, the people won.
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El Huerto Urbano Conunitario del Forat, Barcelona
There may be no bars of note here but thanks to the residents' David and Goliath-like victory, you can now challenge the locals to a game of football, basketball or table-tennis. While you're there you can admire what must surely be Barcelona's only resident scarecrow, who diligently guards the tomato plants in the community allotment. Sadly he doesn't seem to scare away the many pick-pockets in this area, so hang on tight to your valuables.
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Carrer Allada Vermell, Barcelona
For more food and drink options, cross over Carrer Carders towards Carrer Princesa to Carrer Allada Vermell; a shady pedestrianised street with a bohemian atmosphere. Right beside the children's playground is Yamane (Allada Vermell nº. 10) a cheap and cheerful sushi restaurant whose Japanese chef can turn his hand to Thai dishes too.
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The Black Horse, Barcelona
Drinkers can quench their thirst next door at Casa Paco or at The Black Horse (nº. 16); an English pub that's been welcoming homesick Brits, locals and international drinkers for the last 13 years. With not an Estrella Damm in sight, The Black Horse serves up draught bitters, lagers, Guinness and Hoegaarden and you can wolf down packets of Walkers Crisps while you watch the footie or play darts. Sadly their Morris Dancing troupe is no longer active but the football team is still going and there's a bi-lingual pub quiz on Sundays.
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Next door, tall leafy trees shade the terrace of Caliu (nº. 18) while opposite , Brazilian-owned Ice Cream Monkey (nº. 22) serves up ice-cream in exotic flavours like cayá and limbú. Ask for a free sample if you can't make up your mind.
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La Candela, Barcelona
Alternatively, for a real hidden gem, turn right off Via Laietana past La Palau de la Música until you reach Plaça Sant Pere. From the terrace of La Candela (Pl Sant Pere nº. 12) you can gaze over at the church or watch local children squeal with delight as they play in the fountain. Owner Anabel Ruiz and her team turn out set Mediterrarean lunches and Asian-inspired suppers with fideuà and teriyaki duck jostling for position on the menu.
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Plaça de Sant Pere, Barcelona
All of the places mentioned are open in August although many of them don't open until 4-5pm in this, the quietest and hottest of months.
Tucked away in the area above El Born between Palau de la Música and Mercat Santa Caterina are a host of lovely tree-lined squares, perfect for kicking back in the summer. Flick through our slideshow to see our terraces of choice and Barcelona's only scarecrow.