By Nancy Todd
Back from our vacations and rejoining the Barcelona buzz, Regina, Arthur and I wanted the perfect place for tapas to linger and catch up. The food news is that we merged at my favorite neighborhood hang out, Café del Centre, a great gathering place for Barcelona food. I love Café del Centre. Being there makes me feel connected to community. Food in Barcelona makes everyone feel connected.
Owned by the Gimenez family since 1873, this typical Catalan restaurant is unsophisticated charm.
It is not hip nor does it pander to the pseudo antique look.The black and white marble floors of Café del Centre are chipped and stained with decades of chair shuffling and red wine spills. The family prepares basic food with kindness and love of tradition. All of this in an art nouveau bar.
Gray marble table tops with curvy edges are set on scrolly, black iron bases.My favorite parts of the décor are the hand carved, dark wood, flowery art nouveau benches that line one wall. Frilly, white glass lampshades hang from cloth cords. Large beveled mirrors tarnished with the years and old photos deck the walls. Jordi Bel, grandson of the original owners, says the upright piano in the back of the restaurant can’t be played anymore as the neighbors complain. The music is the soft murmur of the Catalan language.
Jordi’s Mother, Inez, cooks Catalan specialties. She shyly comes out to smile at customers, wiping her hands on her apron, and checks to see if you like the rovelló mushrooms fresh from the Pyrenees Mountains. Choices include boiled leeks stuffed with anchovies. Torradas, a big slice of country style round bread brushed with tomato and olive oil. Torradas toppings vary with sausage, herring fillets, duck breast, and of course, the Spanish staple, ham.
To heck with calories. I am going back for another torrada with creamy Spanish cheese and a glass of white wine.
More Barcelona Scoop: What’s the best way to see Barcelona? It’s a big city after all…. although the Scoopettes are not into tour groups usually, we do recommend hop on hop off Barcelona to view the city. This bus is perfect for jetlag days and will give you an overview of the city while giving your feet a break.