La Ramblas is a lively, touristy, tree-lined wide pedestrian walkway filled with restaurants, gelato counters, and stalls selling all sorts of gifts and crafts. It’s a fun, lively area in which to spend an afternoon. However, finding good food is a bit more of a challenge.
Yes, the famous La Boqueria Market is there, and you can find some good tapas inside (my chef friend Tracy highly recommends getting the baby squid and eggs at El Quim). However, if you don’t want to fight the crowds, where is a good place to eat?
I’ve already shared with you about Cafe Viena, the tiny, unassuming sandwich shop that sells the most amazing jamon sandwiches. However, if you’re willing to walk just a block from La Ramblas, you’ll find Cañete Barcelona, a charming tapas bar that is reasonably priced, full of character, and serves up great food.
Off the Beaten Path
The moment we walked in, I fell in love with the vibe of the place. It was lively and full of energy. Servers shouted in Spanish (or was it Catalan?) orders to each other. There was a lot of laughter, and all of the workers seemed to really love their jobs and serving the people.
The restaurant is essentially made up of one long bar with many barstools. There’s one larger table on one end, as well as a smaller separate room that has a couple other tables.
I would recommend sitting at the bar, though. It’s fun to watch all the action, including interactions between the servers in front and the kitchen in back, which communicates with the front through this ingenious window with a sliding tray for passing food back and forth.
Can you see the inside kitchen through the sliding window? Why hello jamon iberico!
We started with some delicious Catalonian Bread with tomatoes. The airy, crispy bread was delicious – the perfect vehicle for the flavorful crushed tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil mixture that was spread on top.
Check out the airiness of the bread.
These simple Green Beans came with an unusual pine nut dressing that was fantastic. It reminded me a bit of sesame paste, but lighter (but still very flavorful!).
Bryan loves paella, and we hadn’t had it yet in Spain, so we ordered a Chorizo Paella. It had great flavors and the rice had an addictively chewy al dente texture that we both loved.
Next we had the Baby Squid with Wild Mushrooms. This was the most interesting of all the dishes. The baby squid had a very deep and strong flavor. Black ink (and bits of something that looked like dirt, but could have just been ink solids) oozed out of the heads when we cut into them, adding a very intense, dark, earthy, squid-ink flavor to the dish.
The wild mushrooms (pictured above in their uncooked form) had an interesting, “grassy” flavor. The whole dish was quite exotic in flavor – super earthy, gritty at times, and grassy. It was very flavorful, and we enjoyed it a lot. However, it was the one dish that I chose not to finish when I started to get really full. I could only take so much of the intense flavors.
Finally, we had Eggs with Chorizo, a classic dish of a fried egg, chorizo, and fries! It was tasty, just as you would expect. The chorizo was nice and spicy, adding a burst of flavor to the fried eggs and fries.
We enjoyed two cortados after lunch, which was great. Cortados are basically a Spanish invention, so everyone here knows exactly what you are talking about when you order them.
I really, really enjoyed our meal here. We left feeling quite full, but very satisfied from the whole experience. The environment is casual, lively, and fun. The servers are really happy. And the food is very good. Prices are very reasonable.
I would totally go back again for a casual lunch, especially if I’m in the La Ramblas area.
Cañete (Canete Barcelona)
Carrer de la Unió, 17