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Adri, a good friend of mine recommended we hit El Nacional, a culinary project that opened in Barcelona just last October. Being a local, we followed her tip and were so glad we did.

The 3.000 square meters space used to be a parking lot and was transformed into an exquisit palace of food. The venue is divided into four restaurants, each specialised in something else. Meat, fish, tapas & rice, delicatessen. And in the center, four counters specialised in cava, wine, beer and cocktails. There’s even an oyster & champagne bar, for the chic & fancy.

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El Nacional is located in Passeig de Gràcia 24, one of the most iconic corners of the city. It is somewhat hidden, too. You have to keep your eyes peeled or you’ll miss the entrance, which is kind of secluded in a little alley.

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Such an exciting place. As soon as I went in, I sighed ‘Gatsby’!  The interior designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán has indeed recreated the Barcelona of the thirties, with its golden haze and grandiose atmosphere. The luxuriant plants, the industrial vitrines, the cosmopolitan vibe… You’d expect to see Gatsby walk in at any time.

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There were so many culinary options we almost didn’t know where to start! We went for La Llotja first, a restaurant specialised in fish cooked in all of its forms. I ordered a tuna tartare with avocado, red oignons and hazelnuts. Nice, very nice. But a tad pricey. We decided to move on to another space, to try more things!

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We sat at the counter of the Taperia, specialised in Tapas, duh. You can order the cold tapas at your wish from the menu. But the hot tapas will be auctioned by the waiters! So keep your ears peeled to bid for the hot dishes as they come out of the kitchen. I think it’ s a lot of fun. And it keeps it lively! The ambiance here was great. Plus the waiters at the counter were a hoot.

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The toasted bread with olive oil, squeezed tomato and salt is to die for. The gildas were nice too. And the tapas are a lot more pocket-friendly.

If you’re in Barcelona, this place is totally worth a visit, if only just for the view! Next time I’m in town, I’ll hit the ‘Brasería’, specialised in grilled meat. There’s a 500g burger called ‘El capricho’ that has my name hot-branded on it…

Anita

El Nacional, Passeig de Gràcia 24, Barcelona, T: +34 935 18 50 53, Open daily from 12pm to 3 am.