Photo by David Iskander

Barcelona reads: The Literary Cafés and restaurants of this city

"In this establishment you can read", states a painting hanging on the wall of La Nena café. Just like in this mythical establishment in Gràcia (one of the many neighbourhoods in Barcelona), ​​there are many cafés and restaurants in Barcelona where books are much more than a decorative item.

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adly placed on the shelves, on the tables or perfectly arranged in a library, the books invite you to discover the stories that fascinate those who dedicate more than 5 minutes having breakfast or a cup of tea. Globalization erases the long life’s bar, but not all is lost. There are historical cafés and restaurants that, thanks to literature, have a fixed clientele.

From bookstore cafés like Laie or La Central to new places where book crossing is practiced, Barcelona is full of literature: late readings, alone or accompanied, not only by friends or your couple, but also by a good piece of cake, a muffin, a coffee or, now that the good weather is finally arrived, an orxata. Take the book you have not yet finished. Today you will advance many pages. In a few days they will surely gift you with another one (Sant Jordi /International Book Day) and, therefore, you should not stop reading.

We propose a tour to know the best Literary Café and restaurants in Barcelona. Shhh, silence. There are people reading.

Clients share newspapers and go on reading the book they carry in the bag. People read in the bar, in the seat of the piano that occupies a corner of this dairy and, even, cueing.

 

La Nena

LA NENA  (C/ Ramón y Cajal, 36-38)

If any adjective defines this chocolate ‘s establishment in the neighbourhood of Gràcia, it is endearing. White marble tables, a wooden bar filled with cakes and biscuits and a room dedicated to children with dozens of construction games, have made this spot one of the favourite areas of many to have breakfast or a snack. The menu is sublime: natural juices, hot chocolate, artisan ice cream, crepes and an assortment of sandwiches and toasts conquest even the less sugar’s lover.

In the mornings, including those of the weekend, La Nena becomes an improvised library, without Wi-Fi. Clients share newspapers and go on reading the book they carry in the bag. People read in the bar, in the seat of the piano that occupies a corner of this dairy and, even, cueing. It is the calm moment of the chocolate’s establishment, since in the afternoon the children eclipse any solitary activity. Mornings that move towards midday between printed ink and a happy belly.

 

Laie’s Café

LLIBRERÍA LAIE (C/ de Pau Claris, 85)

The taste for culture goes even beyond: Gastronomy! The café at the Laie bookstore on Pau Claris street, very close to Urquinaona square, stands out for its calm and relaxed atmosphere. Located just above the bookstore and with a wonderful interior terrace where the natural light favor any lunch or reading, it is an ideal space for those seeking the privacy that require certain conversations and certain books of arduous prose.

It is conceived as a traditional Café where you can eat and drink at any time. The gastronomic offer is based on traditional cuisine, prepared with contemporary sensibility. Who said you can’t eat with one hand and hold a book with the other? Spend any day at Llibreria Laie and you will see what literally is being a book’s lover.

A bookshelf full of books of the most various origins and of all genres, from Robertson Davies to Agatha Christie through a small album with the snapshots of the famous photographer Kim Manresa

 

Adonis Café

ADONIS (C/Bailén, 188)

The right side of L’Eixample is still a quiet neighbourhood, which is only awakened by the Ping-Pong tables on Passeig de Sant Joan and the restless Mercat de la Concepció. The bars opt for traditional wooden decoration and many base their popularity on television sets that broadcast football matches. That’s why the Adonis looks like an alien in the middle of Bailén street. A UFO arrived from the north of Europe, with large windows, very high ceilings and a beautiful stairway that metamorphoses into a top-floor.

It is in this kind of garret where there’s hidden the treasure of the establishment. A bookshelf full of books of the most various origins and of all genres, from Robertson Davies to Agatha Christie through a small album with the snapshots of the famous photographer Kim Manresa. If you want to scape from reality, Adonis is the perfect place where, reading will heal any bound. And if you get hungry, the fast but 100% handmade dishes will wind you up to continue submerged into a ink’s story and, from time to time, spy the neighbours. Writing, reading, is a kind of espionage, isn’t it?

Els Quatre Gats

ELS QUATRE GATS (C/ Montsió 3 bis)

Els Quatre Gats was born on June 12, 1897, inspired by the restaurant Le Chat Noir in Paris. It stood out for being an unusual place, halfway between the bars, the traditional hostel and the refinement of modernist breweries. Precisely because of this innovative character, it soon became the meeting point of a group of artists, bohemians and intellectuals. Pablo Picasso and Santiago Rusiñol, among others, hung their first paintings in this place without suspecting the value they would have in the future. Picasso even designed the cover of the menu. Isaac Albéniz and Antoni Gaudí also frequented the place that even today is one of the most visited restaurants by tourists.

In any case, Els Quatre Gats still has a fixed native clientele, regulars who love the tradition, who settle in one of the small tables of the restaurant with an art’s catalogue or a a book of poetry. Once in a while, in a reflexive’s pause, they are absorbed by the beauty of this magnificent spot located on the ground floor of a building designed by the Modernist architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch.

Next to the space where shows of all types take place (theatre, monologues, magic, music and varieties) there is a kind of library from which you can pick up a book and if you have not yet finished it when you must go, you can take it with you

CAFÉ TEATRE – TEATRENEU (C/ Terol, 26)

The first time you enter the Sala Café Teatre you found yourself in a unique place. Theatre is breathed and the sparkle of so many artists. The proximity of the stage and a very studied decoration make the Café Teatre a very special place to feel comfy and calm, not only to read dramaturgy.

Next to the space where shows of all types take place (theatre, monologues, magic, music and varieties) there is a kind of library from which you can pick up a book and if you have not yet finished it when you must go, you can take it with you. In return, Teatreneu asks you to give them any book you own that do not convince you or that you will not read again. Everything depends on the conscience of each one, but what is clear is that the regulars of this Café know the value of a library like this and that is why they help to perpetuate it.

 

Salambó

SALAMBÓ (C/ Torrijos 51)

Café Salambó is not only a well-known restaurant and a meeting point for those that adore reading and going to the cinema, but also a space that promotes literature and local authors. The owners often organize lectures with renowned local writers, such as Enrique Vila-Matas or Jordi Puntí.

The Catalan cuisine accompanies many readings that start on a Saturday morning and, thanks to the intimate atmosphere of this space, you will spend hours reading without being conscious.

LA CENTRAL  (C/Mallorca 237)

The café in this bookshop is a bright space in the Eixample where you can combine the pleasure of reading and a good gastronomy. Nothing better than relaxing in the middle of the afternoon contemplating the last editorial launches, succumbing to a new author and reading your new book with a good piece of cake and a cup of tea.