Just a hop, skip and a jump from the Diagonal metro station, on the cusp of Gràcia, lies the Carrer de Francisco Giner, an unassuming street bursting with hidden gems. Before becoming one of Barcelona’s city districts in the 19th century, Gràcia existed as an independent town, and if you take a stroll up Francisco Giner today, you soon get a sense of the area’s continued community spirit.
Albert Sangenís, owner of A. Sangenís Antiguitats Esportives (no. 52) agrees that Gràcia is still “just like a small town in a big city.” His antiques shop, opened by his grandfather in 1923, stocks all kinds of weird and wonderful sporting relics. Unique in Barcelona, you can find anything from golf clubs to parts of a ski-lift used in the 1936 Winter Olympics.
At number 6 stands Wunderkammer. German for ‘wonder chamber’, it’s everything the name suggests, boasting a unqiue collection of decorative knick-knacks, stylish furniture and accessories.
The street reflects Gràcia’s reputation as a cultural nucleus. El Pati Groc (no. 56) is a social and cultural centre that sells handicrafts and offers a number of courses, from cookery to ‘laughter therapy’, family activities and monthly art exhibitions. Further down the street, you’ll find the Escuela de Ajedrez ‘Miguel Illescas’ (no. 42), teaching people the art of chess, with courses and organised tournaments.
There’s a wealth of restaurants offering tasty tapas and hearty platos. Santa Madonna (no. 6) is a chic Italian restaurant, priding itself on home-made bread and pasta, and authentic Italian cookery, something which owners Vincenzo Petrucci and Raquel Pla say is “badly misunderstood in Spain.” Next door is Can Punyetes (no. 8-10), part of a small chain of restaurants serving Catalan cusine at a modest price. The speciality, botifarra, is made in the Pyrenees by owner Carlos’s father. Further up, La Singular (no. 50), is a favourite with Gràcia residents, with a worthy reputation for its market specials. And next-door-but-one, Miriot (no. 54) offers a Brazilian flavour, with dishes like Moqueca de gambas (a kind of prawn curry).
At night, the street becomes a hive of activity. There are some fantastic bares de copas, including Le Journal (no. 18), where you’ll struggle to find a seat at the weekend, and El Sabor (no. 32), a lively Cuban bar, where you can enjoy a mean mojito and shake your thing to the rhythm of the salsa.