Last updated on November 27, 2017
I’ve been living in Sants for a couple of years now and have seen it morph from a relatively uninspiring neighbourhood into one of Barcelona’s hippest ‘hoods.
From cosy wine bars with live music to traditional tapas bars and authentic Asian restaurants, these are what I personally consider to be the best restaurants and tapas bars in Sants, Barcelona.
A bit about Sants: When I first told people I had moved to Sants they would turn their noses up in a, ‘Why would anyone ever want to live there?’ sort of way. But now when I tell people, two years later, I’m greeted with comments like, “Oh, cool, I hear there are loads of great new places there!”.
Past: Sants was once completely independent from Barcelona but grew quickly around a thriving textiles industry. Thousands of people flocked to the area in search of work and it soon became one of Barcelona’s largest and most culturally diverse barrios, expanding until it grafted itself onto the rest of the city.
Present: Today, Sants still retains its humble, village-like vibe and attracts those looking for a more authentic version of Barcelona. The only difference really is that it’s now home to some of the best (and most affordable) places to eat in the city.
Here are my favourites (and I’ll keep adding more as I discover them)!
Vermut i a la Gàbia ~ Trendy Bodega with Great Tapas
This is my local haunt, a tiny little bodega-style tapas bar in the lively square of Plaça d’Osca. It attracts an interesting crowd: beautiful young things on first dates and groups of friends who look like poets and drink red wine until they can barely walk.
And the tapas are fantastic, really! The menu features bodega classics such as tinned mussels, cockles and anchovies, as well as gourmet croquettas and the best ensaladia rusia (potato salad with hunks of quality tuna) in Barcelona. Make mine a caña!
Tip: Their sunny terrace out in the square is one of the most coveted spots in the barrio but I like the vibe inside.
Address: Plaça d’Osca, 7, 08014 Barcelona
La Tere Gastro Bar ~ Contemporary Spanish Cooking
Creative Spanish cuisine elevated with international touches and boutique Catalan wines – you can eat like a prince at La Tere even if you’re travelling on a pauper’s budget. It’s the creation of Venezuelan trio Antonio, Georgia and Egidio, a hip but casual gastrobar that’s great for lunch or dinner.
Start with Spanish anchovies splashed in lime mayonnaise and wasabi, and tuna tatami with sesame and kimchi. Mains include octopus brochettes with paprika peppered potato, sticky BBQ ribs, and lamb chops served with fresh yogurt and mint. Take a seat at the bar on your way out and ask Toni for one of his excellent cocktails. You’ll be ready for la fiesta before you know it.
Tip: Keep an eye out for the set menus. They did a a fantastic three-course evening menu with wine and a cocktail once for just €35!
Address: Carrer de Riego, 25, 08014 Barcelona
Homo Sibaris ~ One of Barcelona’s Craft Beer Institutions
Homo Sibaris was one of the original craft beer bars to kick start Barcelona’s brewing revolution. Owner Guillem Laporta is something of a local hero and champions quality brews from local artisans. His main focus is on unfiltered and unpasteurised beers, meaning the taps pump out some of the freshest beers in Barcelona.
The tapas are simple but always good quality – good portion sizes too. Hang out at the bar, where Guillem and his friends are always happy hand out tasters of their latest beers. He speaks excellent English, by the way, so don’t be afraid to ask him for some tips.
Tip: Just around the corner is the Homo Sibaris bottle shop, where you can pick up all sorts of rare brews from local artisans.
Address: Plaça d’Osca, 4, 08014 Barcelona
Homosibaris Izakaya ~ Craft Beer & Japanese Kushiages
A collaboration between Guillem from Homosibaris (above) and the Japanese culinary pros at La Cuina de l´Uribou, Homosibaris Izakaya is one of the most exciting dining concepts in Sants (and the main inspiration behind me actually writing this post). It’s tucked away on a residential side street, the sort of street you’d be unlikely to stumble across by accident, and is all about Japanese street-food-style brochetas of deep-fried meat, fish and more, called ‘kushiages’.
Expect crispy shiitake mushrooms, succulent scallops and, my favourite, satiating fillets of pork. But what makes eating here really special is the way the Japanese flavours work with the excellent craft beers. Start with an aromatic IPA from Zaragoza before supping Belgian Tripels and ruby-hued American ambers.
Tip: Finish with a squidgy green tea mocha with a shot glass of imperial porter ale for the ultimate craft-beer-meets-Japan combination.
Address: Carrer de Ciceró, 9, 08014
La Mundana ~ Hipster Vibes and Creative Spanish Cooking
Chefs Alain Guiard and Marc Martín are largely responsible for Sants’ current hipsterfication. La Mundana is a quintessentially trendy vermuteria, complete with suede and denim-clad staff and avant-garde lighting installations. But look beyond its voguish good looks and you’ll find both depth and sophistication.
Sip vermouth and nibble on gourmet Cantabrian anchovies, boquerones and more progressive delights like Thai-style razor clam tartar with kaffir lime and fennel. Finish with lavish desserts such as matcha tea and coconut with mango and meringue, and chocolate mousse with yuzu cream and marshmallow.
Tip: These guys also run the ever-popular Santa Burg burger joint a few doors down the street (I can see it directly out of my living room window). Arguably the best burgers in Sants (and an excellent range of craft beers).
Addis Abeba ~ Authentic Ethiopian Cuisine & Good Vibes
Located just next to my apartment, this family-run restaurant offers authentic Ethiopian cuisine in an alluringly warm and exotic space – every time I walk past there are crowds of people waiting for a table. Diners huddle around rainbow-coloured ‘mesobs’ (woven wicker tables) on wooden stools and dig into delicious sharing plates.
Dishes like the vegetarian-friendly ‘duba’ pumpkin stew with leek and fragrant spices, and the house-special ‘dorowot’ chicken stew are served in traditional earthenware dishes. You eat with your hands, using ‘injera’, a sort of spongy flatbread, to scoop the food into your mouth. The €17.50 set menu is an excellent way to try a selection of different dishes and includes a drink and dessert.
Tip: If you really want to immerse yourself in the culture then be sure to take part in the Ethiopian custom of feeding your fellow diner, which is considered to be a mark of respect and affection.
Bangkok Cafe ~ THE Best Thai Restaurant in Barcelona
Technically this is in Les Corts, not Sants, but it’s only a couple of streets over and well worth the few extra footsteps. This tiny temple of Thai gastronomy brings the most authentic and exotic aromas of Bangkok to Barcelona in all their glory. Gold-framed photographs of Thailand’s royal family adorn the walls and chintzy chandeliers loom from the ceiling. It’s an informal, haphazard (veering on kitch) sort of vibe that will be familiar if you’ve spent any time on Khao San Road. Owner Champoo and her team are all from Bangkok (or at least Thailand) and will make sure you’re always furnished with a frosty bottle of Singha beer to keep you cool.
Order steamed prawns, beef dumplings and a sweet-n-spicy papaya salad, and don’t miss the pad Thai and suitably strong green and red curries. The prices aren’t quite street hawker cheap, but you can eat seriously well here without spending much more than €15-€20 per person.
Tip: You’ll definitely want to make a reservation here!
Terravino ~ Catalan Wine & Live Music
This cosy little wine bar is a great place to explore quality Catalan wines without breaking the bank. It is the creation of two wine lovers Isabel and Cecilia, who display their latest vino discoveries on the wall like prized works of art. They stock a broad selection of wines from across Spain but the references from Catalonia’s rich terroir are particularly excellent.
Pair your wine with top quality Iberian ham, gourmet olives and a selection of Spanish cheeses for the ultimate taste of Spain.
Tip: They host mini live music performances – check out their Facebook page for listings.
La Paradeta ~ Market-Fresh Seafood at Bargain Prices
Eating fish and shellfish is a must in Barcelona but it’s all too easy to find yourself paying tourist prices for low quality food. The team at La Paradeta, however, keep the quality high and prices low with their unique system: you point out what you’d like at the fishmonger-style counter (Paradeta means ‘market stall’) and receive a ticket, a cook grabs your selection straight off the ice and gets to work and calls you once it’s ready to eat. The result is an astonishingly delicious and affordable way to eat market-fresh fish and seafood – a Mediterranean take on fast food, if you like.
There are four branches around the city, but the one in Sants is the original and is still considered to be the best.
Address: Carrer de Riego, 27, 08014
La Gorda ~ Homemade Brews and Bargain Bites
La Gorda Beer Factory is a cool and somewhat irreverent brewpub run by brewer Toni Tàpies and his brother. Toni’s creative brews seem to be on constant rotation but you can typically find a solid selection of hoppy session ales and zippy American-style IPAs.
I find great solace in the fact that the beers are served in proper pint glasses and always find myself in a good mood when there are free tapas. Even when they’re not free, the prices are excellent, making this is good spot for a casual but boozy dinner.
Address: Carrer de Riego, 29, 08014 Barcelona
Bao Bao ~ Budget-Friendly Asian Street Food
The ultra trendy Bao Bao specialises in Chinese/Vietnamese bao buns, which are squidgy little steamed bread rolls made with rice flour and stuffed with succulent shredded meats and various exotic ingredients.
These fist-sized little beauties are perfect for a quick lunch or an informal dinner with friends. You’ll definitely want more than one, so consider ordering two or even three at a time, or accompany your bao with a little bowl of crispy cassava chips.
Flavours include the “Bao Confuccio” served with char siu (barbecued pork), pickled carrot, turnip, peanuts and fresh cilantro, and the “Bao Ho Chi Minh”, which is a salute to Vietnam lavished with slow cooked veal, marinated vegetables, cilantro, mint and a garlic mayonnaise. Vegetarians don’t have quite as much choice, although the aptly named “Bao Ghandi” with tofu, grilled eggplant, coconut, hoisin sauce, chopped spring onions and mint is sure to hit the spot.
A great place to escape to when you’ve already had your fill of Spanish tapas.
Address: Carrer de Riego, 23, 08014 Barcelona
Bomboneria Pons ~ Handmade Chocolates Since 1960
Hidden down an unassuming side street, this artisanal chocolate factory and store is the stuff of Willy Wonka’s dreams. Dating back to 1960, it’s now run by the third generation of the Pons family. Each and every one of the creamy cocoa creations is handmade with love and beautifully packaged in gift boxes fit for a king.
The chocolates are displayed alongside giant handcrafted easter eggs and chocolate sculptures of castles, teddy bears and monkeys – in fact the giant chocolate monkeys are something of local legend. If this doesn’t take you back to the magic of your childhood, nothing will.
Tip: If your Spanish fails you then ask to speak to Alex, one of the younger English-speaking members of the Pons family.
Honky Tonk Blues Bar ~ Live Music & Craft Beer
You won’t find a good meal here, but you will have a damn good time. Barcelona is celebrated as the cradle of Spanish blues music and this intimate live music venue is where the best local and international artists perform.
The wood-clad walls and bourbon-drenched bar give it the feel of a classic New Orleans dive bar, while the rockabilly regulars add to the vibe with their high-octane outfits. Shows start at 8.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays with everything from solo acoustic sets to groups with honkey tonk piano, rumbling double bass, howling slide guitar and train-wreck harmonica. Sip a Jack and coke or try one of the many imported American craft beers.
While You’re Here
Diehard foodies will also love the Modernista Mercat de Sants, which hums along to the groove of laid-back local life and is surrounded by little cafes and cutesy bodegas.