Today there are 132,000 non-EU immigrants living in Barcelona. They have come from as far as Senegal and Syria, crossed the Sahara by bus or arrived on a long haul flight at El Prat. Wherever they have come from, others have followed. Their reasons why are diverse, but there is one thing all have in common; they want a taste of home.
Because of them, local cuisine has evolved enormously over the past decades. Sure, Adriá and his protégées have made their mark, but show me one 12-course tasting menu that doesn’t include ceviche or sushi. It’s been a happy marriage; Barcelona huge influx of migrants has created a market for budget, family run places whilst young chefs, take note of the spice, flavour and techniques of foreign lands, experiment with them and wake up local taste buds.
Here are a few of my favourite ‘ethnic’ eateries in Barcelona. You’ll always get change from a 20 (sometimes even tenner).
*all images by Dexter Hodges
Ethiopian cuisine is considered by many to be the best in Africa. After spending time in West Africa, I hasten to disagree, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying this wonderful place in Grácia. The menu is dead easy to navigate – all dishes are based upon injera, tasty flat bread made of teff flour, which comes to you in a bin-lid sized portion. The injera is topped with a selection of wat; stewed and somewhat picante minced meat, succulent spiced chicken or vegetables such as pumpkin, potatoes or spinach. You eat seated on low carved stools and with your hands, and end the meal with a rich dark coffee brewed at your table on a tiny coal stove.
C/Torrent de les Flors 55, Gràcia, 93 213 0785
El Cuiner de Damasc
On long boozy Barcelona nights, the kebab has become a staple munchie. But have you ever seen those pink, slimy slabs of meat delivered during the day? El Cuiner de Damasc is the real deal; run by a smiley Syrian who buys his lamb from the market, gently spices it with cinnamon before spit roasting and arranging into the most exquisite ‘kebabs’. Homemade hummus, falafel and a few cakes is all else that’s on offer in this charming corner outpost with inherited Andaluz appeal.
C/ Palau 1, Barri Gótic
Despite being one of the largest migrant groups, Moroccan restaurants in Barcelona are not as common as you would think. Most are located in the Raval. Randa is situated opposite the Moroccan embassy in the Eixample, and was presumably started to nourish people after a morning’s gruelling battle with bureaucracy. Dishes are just what you’d expect in portions large enough for two: chicken and green olive tangine (my favourite), vegetable cous cous and B’sarra – a nourishing ‘breakfast’ soup of split peas.
C/ Diputació 49, Eixample.
Before Lima was declared the new food capital of the world and this restaurant in Barcelona made pisco sours and cerviche newly fashionable, this humble little place behind the lofty of facades of the ajuntament was introducing locals to coriander, tamales and Inca beer. After all these years, I find nothing more healing than a sudado de pescado (spicy fish soup) the morning after.
C/ Templars 6,93 318 2873