My city: Barcelona

Our my city series puts a new perspective on some of our favourite places, as we catch up with creative residents, asking them to divulge their best kept secrets. From their recommended cheap eats, to their go-to coffee spot, there are plenty of hints and tips on how to stay like a local. We caught up with one-to-watch Alvar Ayuso Thorell a young chef who runs his own restaurant, Alvart1, in Barcelona. He s currently competing in the S. Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year Awards 20162.

My City: Barcelona

Alvar outside his restaurant, Alvart, in Barcelona.

Where do you go for the best coffee in Barcelona?

La Portorrique a3 an amazing coffee shop in El Raval. They ve been operating since 1902, so they know what they re doing! Their coffee comes from around the world and is freshly ground in store. You can buy coffee beans here too, as well as chocolate.

What s your favourite cheap eat?

The Ramen at Koku Kitchen4 in El G tic. It s located down one of the area s narrow cobbled alleys and you can recognise it easily by its red neon RAMEN sign. There s usually about five different types on offer, including a vegetarian option, and the menu extends to buns, kimchi and desserts, too.

My City: Barcelona

Koku Kitchen. Image:

Can you reveal your best kept Barcelona secret?

The best day to go out for dinner in Barcelona is Tuesday, as the restaurants are not as full, but even better, the ingredients are at their freshest (most of the restaurants are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so on Tuesdays they get all their ingredients in fresh).

Tell us something that only a resident of the city would know?

There are a lot of things to see and do in the neighbourhoods that lie outside the city centre, from wine-tasting on a vineyard to zip-lining in the forest. You can even Segway in a national park! If you like architecture, head to Terrassa, which is under an hour away by train. Here, you can wander the tourist trails to see the buildings left behind from the city s industrial past, mixed with beautiful examples of Catalan Art Nouveau.

My City: Barcelona

Masia Freixa, Terrassa. Image:

What s the best thing to do in Barcelona for free?

Walk around the Bunkers del Carmel, which are located on Tur de la Rovira (Rovira s Hill). During the civil war, a series of bunkers were built here to protect the city from flight attacks and now it s a historical site. The view over Barcelona is amazing you can see Montjuic, Port Ol mpic, Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral, Torre Agbar and Eixample. It s free to enter and you can get there by bus (24 or 28).

Are there any local customs or traditions that visitors to the city should be aware of?

There is a gastronomic tradition in Catalan to drink vermut (vermouth) as an appetizer before lunch. Many bodegues (tavernas) store it in wooden barrels but you ll find it in bars these days too. It comes as either red, white or ros . Casa Mariol5 is a good place to try it, as they make it with 150 different herbs. You can buy some bottles to take home, too. Nowadays, Barcelona is such a multicultural city, you can experience many customs and traditions here from all over the world.

My City: Barcelona

Barrels in Casa Mariol. Image:

Describe your perfect day in Barcelona.

A nice walk up Montju c hill (you can get a cable car to the top if you prefer), then a good rest at the peak, enjoying the views. Afterwards, I d spend the afternoon drinking gin on the area s terraces, or I d head to the beach for drinks by the sea.

Where do you go when you need to get away from it all?

I go to my hometown, Roses, in Girona. It s about three hours north of Barcelona, on the Costa Brava. There are some really nice beaches here and, as it faces west, the sunsets are beautiful over the Gulf of Roses.

If you didn t live in Barcelona, where else would you live and why?

I would love to live in Rotterdam. I lived there for a few years and I have to say, the environment and the mood of the city is awesome.

My City: Barcelona

Montju c Cable Car. Image:

In your opinion, when s the best time of year to visit?

From April to June, as it s warm but it doesn t get too hot.

When you leave Barcelona, what do you look forward to most when you come back?

Definitely the number of places where you can get really good food that s traditional yet contemporary. My favourites for this are Bar Ca ete6 in El Raval, La Plassohla7 in El G tic and Arume8, also in El Raval. Bar Ca ete has a relaxed, bistro-like feel to it, La Plassohla is bright and modern and Arume is a quirky tavern, with a skeleton in the cellar! All serve delicious dishes which are very well presented.

My City: Barcelona

Solange. Image:

Which is your favourite bar or pub (or the best place to go for cocktails) in Barcelona?

Solange9 it s right next door to my restaurant, Alvart10, and, in my opinion, they serve some of the best cocktails in the city.

Where would you go to get your fix of Barcelona s cultural and creative scene?

El Born is a great neighbourhood for culture and creativity, the Museu Picasso11 is here, as well as the Textile Museum12. For something a bit more up to date, I go to MACBA13 (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art) in El Raval. There are plenty of other museums and creative hubs in this area too, like CCCB14 (Centre de Cultura Contempor nia de Barcelona) Spain s largest cultural centre.

My City: Barcelona

MACBA. Image:

What would you do on your perfect date in Barcelona?

First, I would go for drinks at a rooftop bar in one of the city s hotels, such as Hotel Duquesa de Cardona15 or Hotel Pulitzer16 (but there are many to choose from throughout the city). Then I would go to a fine dining restaurant, either Gresca17 (it s good value and high quality), C leri18 (Michelin-starred chef Xavier Pellicer heads up the kitchen here and offers vegetarian, vegan and omnivore version of his vegetable-based dishes) or Fogo19 (delicious Brazilian-inspired cuisine is served here). I would end the night with some cocktails at Solange20 or at Dry Martini21 in Eixample it s been a Barcelona institution for cocktail enthusiasts since 1978.

My City: Barcelona

C reli. Image:

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  1. ^ Alvart (
  2. ^ S.

    Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year Awards 2016 (

  3. ^ La Portorrique a (
  4. ^ Koku Kitchen (
  5. ^ Casa Mariol (
  6. ^ Bar Ca ete (
  7. ^ La Plassohla (
  8. ^ Arume (
  9. ^ Solange (
  10. ^ Alvart (
  11. ^ Museu Picasso (
  12. ^ Textile Museum (
  13. ^ MACBA (
  14. ^ CCCB (
  15. ^ Hotel Duquesa de Cardona (
  16. ^ Hotel Pulitzer (
  17. ^ Gresca (
  18. ^ C leri (
  19. ^ Fogo (
  20. ^ Solange (
  21. ^ Dry Martini (
  22. ^ here (
  23. ^ Follow our blog with Bloglovin (

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