Doll up an American food court, ship in the freshest ingredients around, add alcohol.
Barcelona’s first multi-zone culinary space counts four restaurants, four bars, and a thousand ways to feed the soul.
Bring together all the culinary classics of the Iberian Peninsula under one roof – check.
Prepare them only with high quality produce from Spain, Portugal, and the South of France – check.
Serve them in a grandiose, 1940’s modernist multi-space hall for superior ambiance – check.
Where is El Nacional?
On the famous Paseo de Gracia, 24 (metro purple line L2, green line L3, yellow line L4)
El Nacional Bars
Beer and Preserves Bar
A wide range of local draught and bottled beers to be enjoyed. The vegetable or seafood preserve platters are a highlight though you can also get the standard meat and cheese plates that make Spain famous.
The mini-feast in the photo above came to a ‘bourgeoisily’ respectable €30.25.
Wine and Cured Meats Bar
The name of the game here is high quality reserve wines. They’ll pair them for you with classic cheese and ham tapas. A glass of Tina de Toro red and some secallona (a typical Catalan dish that is cured sausage) will only run you about €10.00.
The classic margarita here is one of the best in the city though I urge you to try the signature cocktails. They’re €10 each but you didn’t come here on a budget, did you? The Estilo Viejo (a twist on a rum old fashioned with chocolate and orange) would convert even a devout Mormon to the Church of Bubbly Spirits.
We got the Galician oysters with a twist of lemon and the irresistible shallot vinegar (ask for it, trust me!) – chase it with a glass of cava and you’ll forget you were asked to wait 45 minutes for your restaurant table 😉
4 oysters and a bottle of mid-priced white came to €29.00.
El Nacional Restaurants
La Braseria (The Grill)
The first thing you see is the massive glass cabinet for meat aging. Their extra-aged mature beef (“El Capricho”) is heaven and their ox meat was voted best in the world by Time magazine.
Pick a cut: t-bone, sirloin, or entrecôte (rib-eye).
Pick an accompaniment: lettuce heart salad, baked aubergine, smashed potatoes, or just made French fries.
OPT FOR THE CHARCOAL GRILL.
A selection of starters, stews, other meats (chicken and suckling lamb), fish, and desserts round out the menu.
Try: anything with El Capricho ox meat, hand-minced steak tartare.
La Llotja (The Box)
The unique feature here is choosing fish by weight from a market display counter. Then you have it prepared in one of five ways: in the oven, charcoal-grilled, steamed, fried or on the griddle.
The freshness here is undeniable: no discernible seafood smells, clear eyes, and red gills.
There’s also a full menu of fried foods, salads, fish soups, shellfish, stews… and even a few meat dishes for those crazy folk who don’t like eating from the sea.
Try: the L’Escala achovies, sea bream baked in Formentera sea salt, tuna tartare
La Taperia (The Tapas Bar)
What separates El Nacional’s take on tapas is the swiftness of service. Cold tapas are served instantaneously from waiters while hot ones leak out of the kitchen. With nearly 40 choices of tapas ranging from €5-€8 why not get ten?
Try: a classic vegetable dish from Mallorca called tombet, the classic black rice.
La Paradeta (The Stall)
If you’re looking for a quick snack this fast deli restaurant is a good way to get a piece of the legend! Sandwiches, sweet and savory pastries, cured meat, salads, fruit, artisanal ice cream etc.
Try: the traditional xato mushroom and onion confit pasty
El Nacional Tips
- Get there early (2030-2100) if you hate queuing. It will be rammed at 10.
- It’s Spain. Leave a few euro if you liked the service, but none of this 10-20% nonsense.
- Pick your restaurant in advance, put your name in, and go sit at one of the bars.
- Keep your eyes peeled! It’s hidden down a small alley right after Mango and restaurant QuQu.
- The bathroom is a photo exhibition of the building’s transformation from a garage.
There you have it. Don’t be shy asking any questions in the comment box below and don’t forget to like us on Facebook for more Barcelona tips!