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Blue cup cakes
Cup n Cake, C/Enric Granados
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Carrer d'Enric Granados
Just a couple of streets along from the hustle and bustle of Passeig de Gracia and Rambla Catalunya lies the leafy Carrer d'Enric Granados; home to avant-garde art galleries, chic restaurants and stylish boutiques. Running from Diagonal at one end to Carrer Consell de Cent at the other, the street is crowded with restaurant terraces but is relatively traffic-free, making it a Mecca for cyclists and lunching office workers.
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Cup & Cake
Cup & Cake (nº. 145) is a newcomer to the western end of the street and is doing its best to make Enric Granados residents fat. Owner Manex Susaeta came up with the idea for Cup & Cake after seeing similar ventures in Toronto and London. Cake fans will go weak at the knees at their selection of brightly coloured fairy cakes decorated with generous dollops of icing, while the slightly less sweet-toothed can munch on their freshly baked breads and fruit cakes as they drink a brew.
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El Filete Ruso
Another Barcelona newbie is El Filete Ruso (nº. 95), an elegant restaurant serving gourmet burgers: McDonalds this is not. The house speciality, filete ruso, is a thin hamburger-like patty, packed with parsley, onion and garlic. Also popular for organic burgers is Hábaluc at number 41. Customers fight for a table on the terrace at lunchtimes when the kitchen serves up hearty food with an Argentinean twist; think generous salads and fresh fish. Hábaluc aren't the only ones keeping fans of Argentinean fare happy. Deli Argentino (Plaça Dr Letamendi nº. 24 ) is a butchers with a difference, offering meat, wine, desserts and empanadas from the homeland. Football legend Messi has been spotted tucking into a steak at the restaurant next door (Pampero Asador Argentino), so you never know who you might meet over the meat counter.
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Carrer d'Enric Granados 2
As you head downhill and cross over Carrer d'Aragó with its honking traffic, Enric Granados quietly continues keeping up appearances. The lower section of the street was pedestrianised several years ago and it's a fine place to sit and read the paper on a sunny morning. Palm trees shade the children's play area, parrots and pigeons take a dip beneath the water sprinklers and local dogs are given a workout. Artisanal shoemaker Norman Vilalta (nº. 5) certainly seems to like it. He believes Carrer d'Enric Granados has "an absolute essence of exclusivity." From his tiny workshop he turns out beautiful bespoke leather shoes for those who can afford them.
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The street's not always been quite so exclusive however. Over at number 11, Tactic, the surf, skate and snowboard shop, has seen a few changes. Employee Gerard Abad explains, "Back when we opened 15 years ago, the street was much darker and the rent was cheap. Now there are more businesses, more people and a lot more art galleries."
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The street certainly is a haven for art-lovers. Over the years, gallery owners have gravitated towards it. José Antonio Carulla, who presides over Galería N2 (nº. 61) explains why it's the perfect location: "the street is central, quiet and beautiful, it has a young atmosphere and, I think, a real charm." A few doors down at number 49, Galería ADN showcases the work of less-established, mainly local contemporary artists, while Ego Gallery at the lower end of the street (nº. 9) has a strong reputation for photography.
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Like many, Thomas Noerby and Regina Gonzalez, the owners of café/art gallery Cosmo (nº. 3) were drawn to the area because of its bohemian, arty feel. They opened in November 2009 with the aim of offering an unpretentious and cosy art space where you can sit back take in the artistic creations and enjoy a coffee.
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If all that art gets your creative juices flowing, you can always nuture your own inner interior designer at L'appartement (nº. 44), a quirky shop that sells a great selection of wall transfers, furniture and cool knick-knacks. And for philistines who can think of nothing worse than trailing round galleries, Enric Granados offers plenty of shady benches from which to watch the world go by.
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Carrer d'Enric Granados 3
Who was Enric Granados? Enric Granados was a Catalan pianist and composer, born in Lleida in 1867. After studying piano in Barcelona and then Paris, he went on to gain considerable success as a composer and founded the Granados Academy in Barcelona to teach piano. In 1914, the outbreak of World War One meant the premiere of his opera Goyescas (based on his popular piano suite) took place in New York rather than London. When president Woodrow Wilson invited him to play at the White House, Granados missed his boat home and he had to get back to Europe on a series of different ships. On the final leg of his journey home in the English Channel, the ship he was travelling on was torpedoed by a German U-boat and one of Catalunya's finest ever composers drowned while trying to save his wife.
Awash with art galleries, restaurant terraces and chic boutiques, Enric Granados is a must for those with bulging wallets. For us paupers, it's also one of the few places in the Eixample where you can have a nice sit down in the shade without being pestered by too much noisy traffic. Flick through our slideshow to learn more.