Beards, Bars and Culture: Barcelona’s Gracia Neighborhood

Fuzzy beards. Check.
Dive bars. Check.
Catalan culture. Check.
Shiny new buildings. Nope.

Barcelona’s Gracia neighborhood is an eclectic mix of young artists and old originals who’ve congregated in the old neighborhood to enjoy a haven of regional identity, good food and a patchwork of diverse squares which serve as the meeting point for the sprightly and the wise.

Fireworks spinning with fury at the 2014 Festa Major de Gracia correfoc


Where is Gracia?

The Gracia neighborhood is a wedge of culture crammed in between the L3 green line to the west, the L4 yellow line east, the L5 blue line to the south and the busy Traveserra de Dalt to the north. Because it’s boxed in by public transportation, Gracia is one of the easiest neighborhoods to access during your stay in Barcelona.

Why is Gracia cool?

Boheminan — that about sums it up. Gracia is where you go if you want to mix it up with young locals amid a seemingly endless maze of back alley bars, busy plazas and local restaurants.

There are few neighborhoods in the city which offer the same sense of regional pride and culinary diversity as Gracia. At times, the spirit of the neighborhood transports you back to a time when Catalan residents outnumbered the tourists and the foreign renters.

We wouldn’t say Graica is a hipster haven; that title is reserved for the Sant Antoni area. We will say that Gracia is the perfect place for twentysomethings to get in touch will good food, good drink and a good dose of young Catalan idealists.

What’s the history of Gracia?

The Gracia neighborhood used to be a tiny village on the outskirts of the city. Largely agrarian, it was like many of the tiny communities that sprung up outside of Barcelona’s metropolitan area. Over time the city’s sprawl slowly crawled out toward the surrounding villages.

Eventually the urbanization overtook Gracia, and while the neighborhood doesn’t give you the sense you’re in a high rise-laden downtown district its busy streets and alleys are a reminder that the days of the yore are long gone.

What should I do in Gracia?

We’ve mentioned the bohemian countenance of Gracia, and we, as a Barcelona travel blog of the enthusiastic kind, would be remiss if we didn’t recommend a few places to you. We’ll stick with what we’ve done ourselves so you have the security of knowing our suggestions are BE-approved.

Food

Two places high on our list are La Llesca and Pizzeria Lucania II.

Photo courtesy of Tavernalallesca.com

La Llesca is a Catalan restaurant, which means it features cuisine typical of the region of Catalonia. Their menu is packed with traditional favorites like butifarra (sausage) and llesques (big slices of grilled toast topped with deliciousness). Try the  botifarra catalana and the sobrassada amb llesque. La Llesca is located on Carrer de Terol 6 and is a great place for young and old.

If Catalan cooking isn’t your cup of tea, head up the street to Carrer de Terol 29-33 to try some of the neighobrhood’s best pizza at Pizzeria Lucania II. This modest pizzeria is home to a lively atmosphere and hefty slices of pizza at reasonable prices. Lucania is a favorite of the younger crowd.

Photo courtesy of Salir.com

The real treasure here is the hole-in-the-wall’s house wines. You can crack open a bottle at your table for about 5 euros. Mangia!

Entertainment

If you want an authentic neighborhood experience, head to Barantino on Carrer Mozart. This Quentin Tarantino-themed bar hosts an open mic every Thursday at 9 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Edicioneshg.com

You might be the only foreigner in the bar but the oddity of your presence will soon get swirled up into a haze of low lights, good music and the sound of local beer gurgling it’s way from bottle to cup. Andalusian native Antonio leads the weekly open mic. His earthy, heartfelt crooning is worth the trip to Barantino on Thursday nights.

If you’re here during the August you must experience Festa Major de Gracia, a long-standing tradition in which neighbors join together to decorate their streets with elaborate and amazing designs.

A highlight of the festa is the correfoc, a tradition in which a parade of devils, dragons and other mystical creatures walk down the street lighting fireworks.

The food, fun and culture you experience at the week-long festival is unbeatable! Click here to read more about Festa Major de Gracia.

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