Friday, April 3, 2009

Barcelona Nightlife - Bars

While Barcelona might not have the club scene of other major cities, it isn't lacking in bars. Every neighborhood offers a distinct flavor and unique places to meet friends and grab a drink before hitting the dance floor. Here are the ones I always take friends to when they come to visit:

Bar Manchester in the Raval. Looking for a cool spot and some good music? As the name suggests, this dark little bar pays homage to the English independent music scene, so don't be surprised to hear Joy Division, the Stone Roses or Radiohead playing. Beers aren't cheap by Barcelona standards at 2.50 a piece, but they make a mean mojito, and the staff is good about accomodating song requests.

Ask me to name one bar that defines Barcelona, and I would have to say the Tinta Roja in Poble Sec. Walk through the glass and wooden door to something from an Almodovar movie with a bizarre mix of styles, combining old European vaudeville, Argentinian tango, and what I call erotic kitsch. At the far back is a stage for live events where you might catch a local band, belly-dancers, or fire jugglers. Not the place to spend the night on a tight budget, but a must-see.

If you're out wandering during the day, you'll enevitably end up on Portal de L'Angel, which is the promenade lined with shops just north of Las Ramblas, heading towards the Gothic Cathedral. If so, and you feel like stopping and resting your sore feet, I suggest paying Casa de Extremadura a visit. Located on the left-hand side, across from El Corte Ingles, walk up the stone steps into a converted flat that pays tribute to the Spanish Autonomy for which it's named and smell the tapas cooking. Continue through to the large patio and take a seat at one of the plastic tables, and suddenly it seems like you're not in the congested city anymore and you feel your body relax. The beers and limited tapas menu are cheap for Barcelona, so take advantage and fill your stomach - just don't expect service with a smile - It's Spanish afterall.

There's a big football match on and need a place to go? The George and Dragon English pub off Passeig de Gracia is the place. With the biggest screen in Barcelona, it's beer selection of draught German Pilsners and English Ales is what separates it from the other theme bars. That, and the owner, Simon, a friendly Brit whose knowledge of Barcelona is second to none and a great resource if you need some advice on a place to eat or visit.

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