Saturday, 19 July 2014

5 Cheap Eats in el Born, Barcelona

La Paradeta

Possibly my favourite 'cheap eat' in Barcelona - we've visited La Paradeta the last two times we've visited the city. On entering, you're encountered with a massive fresh fish counter - think monkfish, lobster, sea snails, oysters, mussels, razor clams, tuna, salmon... there's pretty much everything a fish lover could dream of here. It looks busier - and scarier! - than it is; queuing like a well-behaved Brit worked in our favour this time; everything's charged by the weight (though the staff will portion the fish out for the number of covers dining) and you can choose how you'd like it cooked (grilled/fried/steamed).

There's cheap wine (like everywhere in Spain) - and ice bucket stands sit at every table. Don't let that comment fool you - this is a self service restaurant if ever there was one. Your receipt will specify your number to listen out for (in both English and Spanish - phew!) which you collect at the hatch. Don't forget the sauces when you pay, and load up on ailoli. Skip the salad - it's nothing special but grab a couple of breads for the mussels. Beware of the gambas (prawns) - four of these babies cost 8 euros; well worth it for the quality on offer, but some of the shellfish can stop it from being a 'cheap eat'. We've only eaten at the Born location, but there's four other branches in Barcelona.

Carrer Comercial, 7
Barcelona, Spain

La Taguara Areperia

We actually ate here as a "starter" before visiting Mosquito. It's a stand-up kind of joint, with Moritz beer and a large menu for your fillings. Not sure what exactly an arepa is? Check out our pals, Arepa! Arepa! Arepa! in Manchester.

There's pretty much anything you could imagine to stuff in your maize patty - from black beans & roughly a kilo of cheese** to chicken & avocado. Can't choose? Fortunately, there's also "La Mixta", basically a bit of everything. When you've finished your grub hot foot it down the street for a post-dinner Manhattan at Gimlet. You can afford it - none of the arepas are more than five euros.

Carrer del Rec, 10
08003 Barcelona

Pim Pam Plats

Looking for a 'cheap eat' on our last day for lunch, we scouted Pim Pam out for a little while before giving it a go. This casual eaterie was clearly popular for takeaway when many of the options seemed to be available to purchase by weight; there's an impressive looking counter, filled with 10-12 different salads, four fresh pastas, tagines, curries, meat..... well, nearly everything you can think of. We both plumped for one of their confusingly good deals - I chose one of their daily salads with a delicious almond, cream & spinach tortellini (beware, they do heat this in the microwave and mine came out not quite hot enough), whilst Jamie gave me the worst case of food envy with his burger. This simple bun filled with a perfectly pink patty, gherkins, lettuce and mustard blew every other burger we'd eaten in a restaurant out the water. Two salads, a burger, fresh pasta and a beer came to around 18 euros (£16).

Next time we'll be trying the original Pim Pam Burger, round the corner at Carrer del Sabateret, 4.

Carrer del Rec, 8
08003 Barcelona


Nearing the end of our trip and craving a touch of good ol' Mancunian service (a.k.a. hipster service, as described by Good Gobble here), Mosquito was the obvious choice. Situated just a few minutes walk from the main square in El Born, Mosquito is a tiny Chinese style restaurant, specialising in dumplings and crispy duck. Oh, and not to mention a pretty damn good craft beer selection. On the evening we went, they were all out of English menus but staff were friendly and disappointingly un-hipster (though very stylish); we tried three different kinds of dumpling, their crispy duck and rice. Along with two very decent beers, the bill came to under 30 euros (or about £25). We arrived pining for Manchester* and left pining for a place like this in Manchester.

Carrer dels Carders, 46
08003 Barcelona

Pizza Paco

Every time we've visited the Born area of Barcelona, it's been hard not to notice how popular Pizza Paco is. Word has it it's hard to grab an outdoor table in the evening - so we plumped for a completely un-cool dining time of around 5 in the afternoon. The beer's crap in that way that it just about becomes acceptable because you're in a hot country, but the pizza is worth a visit. One between the two of us, with a, um, side of empanada was more than enough for a light tea. The lot came to around £13. This joint ain't gonna knock you out if you're a pizza perfectionist, but it's pretty damn good, with smiley, relaxed service and a lovely courtyard. The desserts sounded good too. No website, but the address is below.

Carrer de l'Allada-Vermell, 11
08003 Barcelona

*obviously I am lying. I have never pined for anywhere in Barcelona.
**I am exaggerating - but the amount of cheese was sort of ridiculous.