Romantic restaurants in Barcelona: fall in love with the Old Town!
Looking for the perfect place for a romantic meal or a quiet dinner with friends? Three of our favourite quiet, intimate venues are hidden away in Barcelona's Old Town.
Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince.
The same can be said of the perfect romantic restaurant. Barcelona has plenty, but you need to know where to look – and the best finds are often the ones you stumble across by accident in tiny side-streets. But never fear! We, your knight(s) in shining armour (or ladies in shining armour, we’re all about the equal opportunities here) have done the job for you. Read on to find out more about three of our favourites.
Arcano: a romantic restaurant in a cosy cavern
Just a short walk from the covered market of Santa Caterina, Carrer dels Mercaders (Merchant Street), you’ll find Arcano. Right from the outset, we thought the restaurant would be a good one – and we weren’t wrong!
We arrived at the same time as an enormous trolley full of ingredients from the market around the corner, a promising sign if ever there was one!
Arcano: a romantic restaurant in a cosy, welcoming setting
The restaurant is housed in a 17th-Century stable building, complete with original stone walls and arches. Soft lighting and subtle copper accessories are all that’s needed to create a warm, intimate feel of understated elegance: perfect for a meal with someone special, a quiet family get-together or dinner with friends.
- The kitchen opens onto the bar, so you can watch the chefs at work – it’s amazing what they can conjure up in such a small space, producing appetising, top-quality dishes with deceptive ease.
Arcano: please cook for me, Argentina
The cuisine on offer in this welcoming grotto is a blend of mediterranean and Argentinian classics. Vegetables, meat and fish cooked over gently glowing coals are a house speciality.
- For starters, choose from Catalan sausage on a bed of pea purée laced with truffle oil, grilled octopus, prawns or succulent vegetables.
- Arcano serves both Galician and Argentinian angus beef in a variety of cuts: rib steak, fillet, hanger steak and ribs.
- The Argentinian sausage and mushroom ravioli are made in-house and served with a sauce of your choice: cheese, pesto or tomato. They’re toothsome, melt-in-the-mouth, and simply delicious, cooked to a perfect al dente consistency, as any Italian will tell you.
- The fish – including a grilled tuna steak with a sesame crust – is on a par with anything you’d find in a good Japanese restaurant.
- Portion sizes are generous and the restaurant offers excellent value for money. The lunch menu costs around 15 euros, and you may well struggle to finish it!
The service is also great, which is refreshing. The manager has everything under control, and your meal will be served with a smile!
- In short, Arcano has all of the ingredients for a great romantic meal: atmosphere, service, presentation, taste and quality. No Michelin stars, but everything else!
A great place to treat yourselves – and make sure you check out the excellent wine list 😉
Where? Carrer dels Mercaders, 10, El Born
When? Monday – Sunday, 1pm – midnight
How much? Lunch menus around 15 – 20 euros; full evening meals from €30 – €70.
Why? Because it ticks all the boxes!
Ziryab: A romantic restaurant where east meets west
Ziryab is the brainchild of Kate, a seasoned traveller come to rest in Barcelona, and her brother. Their fusion cuisine aims to transport diners around the world from the comfort of a restaurant table. Tucked away down a side-street in the medieval Old Town, here’s your proof that good things come in small packages…
Everything here is on a small scale: the rooms, the tables, even the stairs… it’s like a tiny wonderland!
- The chairs aren’t the most comfortable ever and you may feel a little… restricted. It’s all part of the charm of the place, though!
Whisper sweet nothings as you enjoy perfectly-spiced delights and soak in the exotic atmosphere – it’s like something from the Arabian Nights. The jazz or bossa nova soundtrack playing in the background, however, is a subtle reminder that you’re still very much in the west.
- We recommend the tasting menu for two: for 30 euros, you’ll get to experience a whole rainbow of tastes, colours and smells.
- The Lebanese wine served at Ziryab is the perfect accompaniment to their dishes.
Ziryab: fusion cuisine in a romantic setting
The “tartinades” starter is an absolute must. Served on a pretty wooden tray, it includes a selection of 8 different dips, alongside a jug of olive oil, salt and za’atar (a cumin-based spice blend). The spreads include caramelized leek, bacon and goats’ cheese, carrot, beetroot and cardamom, hummus with black olives, cumin and truffle oil, and more.
- The dips are served with mini pita breads, cooked to order in a traditional oven. If you run out, just ask, and the chef will be happy to make you some more!
- If it’s tapas you’re after, try the bacon-wrapped dates with balsamic emulsion, or the oriental-style patatas bravas, with a blend of 7 different spices and a black garlic sauce.
- Stand-out main courses include the spiced chicken, bacon and halloumi roulade, or the prawn skewers, cooked in the pita oven and served on a pretty stand.
- The desserts are just what the doctor ordered.
Go ahead and enjoy a deliciously different feast!
- If you’re not quite ready to return to the real world at the end of your meal, head for the Shishalounge a few streets away for tasty spiced cocktails and shisha in an oriental lounge setting – another of Kate’s creations.
An intimate paradise – travel the world without leaving Barcelona!
Where? Carrer dels Ases, 16, El Born
When? Monday – Sunday, 1pm – 11.30pm
How much? Tasting menu €30
Why? For a multi-sensory dining experience
Los Pergaminos: a romantic restaurant where the writing’s on the wall
Los Pergaminos… an intriguing and evocative name, especially when you find out what it means! The clue is in the décor: the former stable building is home to a collection of precious parchments revealing the rich history of the area.
The restaurant is a family affair, launched in 1989. At the tender age of 12, Claudia began helping her father serve clients every weekend. Fast forward a few years, and Los Pergaminos is now in the capable hands of Claudia and her brother, Sergio.
Claudia proudly informs me that everything is homemade (“casero”) and the proof of that is displayed on the impressive bar in the entryway:
- Crinkle-skinned potatoes from the Canaries, baskets of eggs, fresh garlic, pretty bottles of olive oil and jars of pulses are lined up along the counter, alongside a huge loaf of fresh bread – you know what you’re getting!
A quintessentially Spanish romatic restaurant
The wood panelling and vintage chandeliers create an impression of candlelight, creating a romantic and intimate atmosphere. Hypnotised by the bottles of wine hanging from the ceiling, we almost missed the arrival of the tapas, but the aroma brought us back down with a bang…
- The salmon with honey and truffle oil, smoked in-house and marinated in spices, is a flavour explosion.
- The artichoke crisps with cheese sauce and crispy Iberico ham are simply delicious.
- The “elbow-rolled” croquetas are tender and packed with flavour.
- The pork cheek ravioli… what pork cheek ravioli? There were pork cheek ravioli here? *munching noises*
The seafood paella is one of the best we’ve tasted, and comes highly recommended by Pepe at the Bar La Plata just down the street.
Letting Claudia pour us a glass of organic “Curios” Penedés wine, perfectly matched to the dishes on offer, our minds turn to dessert….
- There’s no dessert menu here: Claudia makes them fresh every day based on what strikes her fancy. When we visited, there was a melt-in-the-mouth chocolate lava cake.
Los Pergaminos offers simple, authentic and hearty food, prepared without pretence but with the best-quality produce on offer – following the example set by Claudia’s father.
A restaurant which merits its place in the history of Carrer Ample, although you’re more likely to find it on a website than on parchment these days…
Where? Carrer Ample 19, Gothic Quarter
When? Wednesday – Saturday, 1pm – 4pm and 7pm – 11pm; Tuesday, evening only.
How much? Mains around 15 euros
Why? For a spot of time travel!
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