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What Not to Do in Barcelona

by Suzanne Wales

Don't…
Visit La Boquería

Ever since Catalan cuisine hit the global radar, the Boquería food market has borne the dubious status of a "must do" Barcelona experience. Food journalists and bloggers wax about the colors, the aromas, the scope of the seafood, the value of the vegetables, and the joy of the jamón. Fair points—but what about those stall owners hawking smoothies, bags of mixed sweets, and pizza slices? Well, they exist to cater to the constant stream of tour groups piling in from La Rambla. You can seek solace from the tourists and camera crews in the offal section. Though don't expect a friendly greeting when the stallholders find out that you're just looking.

Instead…
Buy Local

For a more authentic experience, check out one of the city's 39 neighborhood markets. Over the past decade or so, each of them has been earmarked for a makeover, often with stunning results that combine revamped stalls, gourmet goods, great eateries, and striking architecture. Frequented by a lively mixture of housewives and hipsters, the Miralles/Tagliabue–designed Mercat de Santa Caterina (pictured) anchors the Born district with its undulating, polychromatic roof and hosts the small bistro Cuines Santa Caterina. The architects of the Barceloneta market created a metaphor for this maritime 'hood's past in its postmodern industrial form, yet inside it's all working-class cred and briny charm. Pull up a stool at El Bar de Paco, where the amiable eponymous owner will greet you like a regular; order up the best tortilla de patatas in the barri.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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