Picnic Fifty shades of delicious

Smack bang in the center of the ever-progressive El Born neighborhood, Picnic is an all-star foodie experience that people just can’t stop talking about. Where Brooklyn chic meets mom-and-pop cafe, it’s a charismatic little joint that’s always jam-packed and ready to deliver kick-ass grub. The owners, Tara, from San Diego and her husband, Jamie, the head chef from Santiago, combine forces to create an out-of-this-world dining experience. Tara charms la sala with warmth and grace while Jamie produces a season-tuned brunch and dinner menu that has both savory and sweet flavors, always leaving your stomach begging for more.

Some of the most treasured brunch dishes are the pancakes served with fresh figs, strawberries, maple syrup and a peanut butter glaze; their classic eggs benedict; or even the crab BLT with a chilled chipotle Bloody Mary, to start the morning off right. For dinner, you can savor a slow-roasted lamb or the braised oxtail with a spiked strawberry lemonade. The highlight of Picnic is undeniably the food but the restaurant’s style, delivery and attentiveness is the icing on their prized homemade dessert cakes.

Ocaña Las Ramblas is my stage

Ocaña makes an unconventional splash in the middle of Barcelona’s most vibrant and touristy square, Plaza Real. Far from being a trap for the Ryanair brigade, Ocaña attracts a motley crew of locals, visitors and bohemians alike. Named after Jose Perez Ocaña, the locally heralded street artist who praised every “artist” on Las Ramblas, from the pimps to the thieves, Ocaña is a reflection of his idiosyncratic art and lifestyle. Therefore, everyone is welcome and anything goes.

After eights years of renovation work, Ocaña reopened in 2012 and is more glorious than ever: gilded columns, lustered chandeliers, reclaimed furniture, parquet floors… the whole shebang. But don’t expect any hushed museum-esque reverence on arrival; the terrace is packed all-day long with people sipping cold cañas and grazing on tapas while inside gets louder and louder as the night burns on. Serious drinkers can head into an ornate Arabian cave, aka the Apotheke, where cocktails are served, as is the fashion these days, in mason jars. Which only leaves the chameleon-like club space that will showcase local labels one night then welcome corporate schmoozers the next—quite the range, so choose wisely.

Betahaus Creative beast

Two heads are better than one; that’s the idea of Betahaus. The more brainpower in one space the better. Originating in Berlin, this innovative work area and community for creative professionals and entrepreneurs is the new big thing happening all over the globe, where creativity and ideas can be shared and explored. Barcelona’s Betahaus is home to 132 members, 38 start-up companies and 97 freelancers. Talk about an impressive résumé.

This private club is a 2000 square meter workplace and event space that is made up of a funky café, private rooms, larger communal work areas, and terraces—so you can get some work done while also getting your tan on, lounging in the sun. With all that space there’s also room for workshops, launch parties and a bunch of cultural events. Although this all may sound dandy, pump the breaks. In order to get one of their exclusive memberships you need to pass the interview process before being deemed Betahaus worthy. If you do get selected to join the club you also have special benefits at the other locations in places like Copenhagen and Vienna, and soon New York City. Betahaus is one full house of tech savvy, aspiring individuals from all over the world.

TWOTHIRDS Ocean licks featured

Water covers roughly two thirds of the world (hence the name) so it’s about time there was a fashion brand dedicated to it. Based in Barcelona, TWOTHIRDS is inspired by the oceans, surfing and all life that dwells in the deep blue. And it’s for this reason that most of their wares are either recycled or organic—and also produced in Europe so as to further reduce their impact on the planet.

Not only is their apparel flipper-friendly, it’s easy on the eye too. The Cali surfer look has been a mainstay for decades now but TWOTHIRDS has taken it to a more mature, even urban level. Of course there are blissed-out beach tees and shorts by the barrelful, however, these hang alongside some darker tones suitable for evening wear too and where the Maritime theme is evidenced only in say the imprint on a shirt button or the espadrille sole of a shoe.

That said, if you love the wild open sea, why not say it loud and proud? This is the store for you. So come down to the Barri Gotic, pick up your waterproof jacket made from recycled plastics, throw in a Breton striped sweater, and swipe a ‘50s-style board for your next surf trip. All this and more awaits…

KER Club Welcome to the big league

Whispers of a new party spot had been circulating for a while until a riotous opening bash shredded any semblance of underground cred. Nevertheless, while it may be no secret, KER is still hands-down (or should that be hands in air) one of the most exhilarating clubs in the city.

Those in control of the sound streams are at the top of the game. Let’s name drop the likes of Seth Troxler and Levon Vincent, alongside electro royalty in the shapes of Laurent Garnier and DJ Harvey. Music-wise, you get the picture already, but what about the bricks and mortar? Taking their cues from the iconic Spanish interior designer, Javier Regas, it’s a pretty sleek affair that pulls off the trick of being both intense and intimate.

That’s not to say there aren’t a couple blots on their scoresheet. The old ‘buy a bottle and be a VIP for the night’ policy is just not what we call a party. And the marauding official photographer doesn’t do anything for the vibe either. Needless to say, you won’t notice such nuisances when the dancefloor starts to throb.

Barraca A xiringuito like you've never seen featured

Barraca has more than a few things in its favor. Sitting pretty on the sandy edge of Barceloneta, it is a mere croqueta’s throw away from the Mediterranean. Quite literally. You’ll therefore be perhaps unsurprised that the seafood here is wriggling fresh. Not literally this time, though nevertheless exceptionally fresh.

But the reason that this restaurant’s opening was the worst kept secret of summer 2013 had nothing to do with the location nor the fresh fish. The buzz in the air was all to do with the hype-worthy, Michelin-studded record of head chef Xavier Pellicer – a gastronomic wizard who has decided to put down his haute cuisine conjuring spoon for a while and instead go back to doing real people’s food, for real people’s prices.

The all-time peasant favorite paella has taken pride of place here—a deep sticky concoction that is crisped briefly in the oven before serving. Beneath the rich rice crust lurks a near anthology of the ocean, as can be seen in the arroz bomba—complete with squid, rock fish, mussels and clams. Barraca is also organically-minded and kitted out in a modern, nautical manner. But need we really say more…

El Palauet Ice queen

White. It’s not just a colour, it’s a lifestyle darling. That is what El Palauet would have you believe anyway. It’s truly difficult not to be taken in by the icy splendor of these enormous apartments.

If you want to indulge your inner diva this is the perfect stage. Fancy waking up to the smell of homemade breakfast caressing your nostrils? No problem! Each suite comes with its very own PA who is at your every beck and call. Make sure you ask them for a tailor made tour of Passeig de Gracia, the only shopping avenue where you can get a side of Gaudi with your Givenchy.

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