Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bars - Poble Sec

Of all the barrios of Barcelona, Poble Sec has always been my favorite place to hit the town. Not as trendy as el Borne or as packed with tourists as el Barrio Gotico, its eclectic mix of bars and vibrant streets is where's you'll find the city's more bohemian and artistic crowd heading out; along with an interesting mix of local characters such as Pepe the gypsy artist whose knowledge of English consists of porn dialog, and Steve - a transplanted Liverpudlian with an encyclopedic knowledge of beer an a quick wit.

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Most of the action takes place between the Poble Sec and Parallel metro stations.  On the south side of the Avenue is Barcelona's theater district, and behind it - the start of Calle Blai.  A terrific little street filled with terraces and bars that serve food, it's the perfect place to grab a drink and a snack if you're out during the late afternoon or early evening when most of Barcelona's other places are closed.  Two of my particular favorites are Bar Zodiac on the corner of Calle Margarit and Bar Ramon a little further down.  Both offer a limited menu of non typical Spanish dishes with the latter specializing in tapas from the Canary Islands, and a selection of draft beers that aren't Estrella or San Miguel.

If you're there at night around ten, walk up Margarit a few blocks to number 43 and the Jazz Bar for a selection of German and local brews to wash down some of the best sandwiches and burgers in town, or head to Bar Rouge on Poeta Cabanas for a comfy seat on a plush sofa and take in some memorable tunes or an impromptu show, while sipping on a potent cocktail.  It's also now the place where a Spanish and English poets group meets, if that's your thing.  And, if those aren't enough: there's always La Tinta Roja!

But that's just the Montjuic side of Poble Sec, cross Parallel to Ronda Pau and you'll literally find one cool bar right after the other, starting with La Confiteria - a renovated bakery from the end of the nineteenth century - and ending with Ultramarinos where you're likely to watch a fish documentary while a DJ spins anything from soul to house.

And, if at three in the morning, you're still standing with energy to burn, cross back over to the Apollo night club or Discoteca Plataforma on Nou de la Rambla, 145 if you feel like booging to a mix of cheesy rock tunes.

On a cautionary note: Poble Sec is safer than el Raval and el Barrio Gotic, but it's still best to be mindful of your wallets and not get blinding drunk.

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