Five-star Mediterranean cuisine at excellent prices served in a trendy-but-informal setting, Manolete is the perfect place for a lazy lunch or boozy pre-fiesta dinner in the heart of Barcelona.
Housed under the heart-achingly beautiful arches of the Isabel II Promenade, which were designed by Josep Xifré i Cases to resemble the iconic Rue Rivoli in Paris, Manolete is the perfect spot for a gourmet lunch in the shade or a boozy pre-fiesta dinner. And although the bright lights of billionaire mega yachts and sun-struck sands of La Barceloneta beach are only a few minutes’ walk away, it’s impossible not to be swept away by the history and romance of this delicious slice of Old World Barcelona.
Trendy furniture and urban-chic photography brings a sophisticated 60s and 70s vibe to this modest space, where the greeting is warm and genuine, and in English “if you’d prefer.” Santi, the owner, tells me, “We are young people trying to bring excellent food to Barcelona in an informal setting, at good prices. Honesty is at the centre of everything we do. Yes, we want to appeal to tourists, but we also want to please the locals.”
It’s warm and informal yet elegant and hip enough to create a sense of occasion. A long, well-stocked bar runs the entire length of one wall, where the friendly staff whip up classic cocktails (starting at only €7 a pop) and essential gintonics (ranging from €7 to €9). And the wine list is small but perfectly formed.
A simple but well thought out menu offers a variety of Mediterranean dishes – think mushroom and foie croquettas, tomato and tuna belly salad and Iberian ham with apple and red wine sauce. But it’s the delicate and mouthwateringly beautiful presentation that really elevates Manolete to the next level.
Start with the squid sandwich from the “eat with hands” menu, a street food twist on a Spanish classic, and chow down on the zesty gazpacho-style soup and dangerously moreish oven-baked spicy bravas potatoes.
Then – although it doesn’t much matter in which order you eat here – try the picture-perfect octopus, which is served on a light and fluffy bed of creamy mashed potato (no butter, no nonsense – just a sprinkle of chopped black olive) and seasoned with a delicate pepper oil. And for a taste of something different, try the steak tartar, which is electrified with a sweet-and-spicy mustard ice-cream. Wash it all down with bottles of Rioja and you’ll be on your way to heaven before you can say pim-pam-pum!
Make it Happen
Visit the website to book a table for dinner – they have large tables for groups – or escape the midday heat with lunch in the shade of the arches after bronzing yourself at the beach. Three-course set menu with drinks available from €11.95.
You can also drop in for drinks and nibbles – Vermouth, Chips and Olives €6.50.
Address: Restaurante Manolete Tapeo Relajao, Passeig Isabel II, 2, Barceloneta – Port Vell, 08003 Barcelona
Nearest Metro: Barceloneta (Yellow Line)
Note: I was a guest at Manolete Barcelona but this write up is based entirely on my own opinions. I only recommend places that I would recommend to my best friends.