A sommelier’s guide to where to eat and drink in Barcelona

As a new wave of natural wines descends on Catalonia, sommelier Stefano Colombo guides us through his picks for eating and drinking in Barcelona.

Nomad Coffee. Photo courtesy of Nomad Coffee

In Catalan slang, the word “brutal” can mean very good as well as very bad. To the drinkers of Barcelona, Brutal is the name of a game-changing wine bar that kick-started the city’s natural wine scene. The driving force behind Brutal’s wine list is sommelier Stefano Colombo, from Italy’s Veneto region, who recognised an opportunity to introduce Barcelona to the pleasures of organically farmed, zero-additive wines. The rest, as they say, is history. While natural wine represents a sizeable chunk of Colombo’s diet, the former industrial designer can also appreciate all aspects of Barcelona’s food and drink scene. Here, he reveals a handful of his favourites.

Stefano Colombo.

There’s this kind of magic energy in Barcelona of young people that are always pushing limits, but at the same time, it’s really chill. Over the past 30 years Ferran Adria’s molecular cuisine has created a big shift in food culture here. You get restaurants, which are in the top five of the World’s 50 Best list. At the same time you can find a restaurant that has been around for 50, 60, or 70 years. That kind of contrast is nice for the city.

Natural wine bar hopping

You can find a lot of classic wines by the glass quite cheap in Barcelona. So when we opened Bar Brutal in 2013 our wines were a little bit weird for a lot of people. Now there are around 20 restaurants serving natural wine in the city and we can drink in every neighbourhood. In Gràcia I like La Graciosa, a tiny house with a young and fun crowd. The sommelier Gianluca was at Bar Brutal in our very first year and then he and his partner Debora opened their own place. It’s not pretentious, it’s a good vibe. There’s a lot of cheese and homemade charcuterie. They take a lot of care with the food but it’s not really a restaurant. Close to Bar Brutal in the city centre we have L’Anima Del Vi, one of Barcelona’s first bottle shops. They’ve been on the scene for 20 years and have their own selection of wine and family-style dishes. There’s another place called Bar Gelida where they pull wine straight from the barrel. The crowd here is a mix of old people and young university students because it serves classic Catalan food that’s cheap and honest.



Bar Brutal.

(Photo: Courtesy of Bar Brutal)

Cocktail hour

Dry Martini is a crazy, historic place with a speakeasy-style restaurant out the back that was actually a real speakeasy in the 1960s. The bar serves classic cocktails and you can smoke a cigar there. Marlowe Bar is another traditional cocktail bar that’s really nice. Then there’s the new generation of cocktail bars like Paradiso. They’ve won everything in the World’s 50 Best Bars. It’s really creative but I’m too old for sweet, smoky cocktails: I’m more a dry Martini or Negroni drinker.



(Photo: courtesy of Paradiso)

If you only have one coffee…

There are now a lot of places where you can get a good coffee. Until recently it was just that fake espresso with lots of extraction. Nomad Coffee is leading the charge. They have a big factory where they roast their beans and have a couple of spots in town where they do things seriously.

Nomad Coffee.

(Photo: courtesy of Nomad Coffee)

Breakfast options

In Catalan a fork breakfast means gathering early in the morning for a variety of traditional dishes for breakfast. You start your day with a nice plate of fried squid, lentils or croquetas. It’s very traditional for Catalan people to start the day this way, skip lunch, then have vermouth and dinner later. The best for breakfast in the Bocqueria is Bar Pinotxo. Then there’s Granja Elena, where you have beautiful sandwiches and nice dishes at 8 o’clock and sit at tables with old ladies having cafe au lait.

Natural wine shopping

Cuvée 3000 has a beautiful bottle shop in Barcelona called Cuvée Bottle Shop. Here you can have a glass of natural wine as you chat about the bottles you want to buy. I think it’s the best shop in town to buy natural wine. There’s another one called Món Vínic Store, which sells beautiful organic wine and beautiful cheese. It’s a bottle shop but you can sit there, have a little cheese, then taste some wine before you buy.

Cuvée Bottle Shop. Photo courtesy of Cuvée 3000

(Photo: courtesy of Nomad Coffee)

On the beach

There are lots of special places on the coast half an hour from Barcelona. I like Villa Más. The food is amazing and it’s right in front of the beach. The secret is that the owner is a wine enthusiast and has a huge, crazy cellar with a beautiful wine list. The food is nice and simple: fresh paella and beautiful seafood. We always start with lunch but eventually stay there for dinner. We spend the afternoon going between the sea and our table, staying hours.

As told to Jessica Rigg from the Local Tongue. For more chef’s guides around the world, see or follow @the.localtongue.

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