When you’re on the move with children, a restaurant that’s welcoming of the whole gang is the key to an enjoyable, relaxed mealtime. Unfortunately, finding those special places in a foreign city can be tricky. Even if an eatery is child-friendly in appearance, there’s always a chance the food isn’t going to appeal to everyone, or that the waiter isn’t going to like your kids playing hide and seek amongst the tables. Luckily, in Barcelona, there’s a wide range of quality restaurants that welcome families—you just need to know where to look.
A neighbourhood civic centre might seem like a strange option for a hearty breakfast with the family, but Centre Cívic Vil·la Florida (Carrer de Muntaner 544) has an ace up its sleeve. Tucked inside is a fabulous cafe that offers an ever-changing daily menu, featuring burgers, omelettes and usually a robust dish with that kid-friendly staple, couscous.
The charmingly rustic cafe Granja Petit Bo (Passeig de Sant Joan 82) boasts Scandinavian style decor, with sturdy hardwood benches and tables. It sits on the site of what was once an urban dairy farm, and so fittingly serves up different varieties of egg dishes and even porridge, as well as some divine homemade cakes for a sweeter afternoon treat.
With a similar style of food, decor and ambience, Federal Cafè (Carrer del Parlament 39) in Sant Antoni is a great option for Sunday brunch. With an informal open plan design over three floors, it includes a big family-sized wooden breakfast table stacked with English magazines and newspapers. On the ground floor detachable windows mean you can sit on cushioned ledges to enjoy your coffee with some fresh air, while the sun-dappled rooftop terrace will keep the kids happy. The menu offers popular dishes with a trendy twist, all carefully prepared with organic ingredients. The juices and smoothies are also highly-rated.
The aim of Family Room Cafè (Carrer de Joan Gamper 13) is for all generations to enjoy a meal together in a comfortable environment. While also offering a diverse and robust breakfast menu, Family Room Cafè really excels with its healthy meals later in the day. Every day (except Monday, when it’s closed), there’s a range of fresh, inventive salads on offer, premium grilled fish and homemade, kid-friendly dips such as hummus and guacamole. The space is modern yet warm, and weary parents will be overjoyed to know that it has a separate playroom equipped with toys and games to keep small children entertained while they eat.
Older children will be in heaven at Bar del Convent (Plaça de l’Acadèmia, s/n), which has a supervised interior courtyard where they’re free to ride bikes, skate and run around, while parents are served classy, nutritious dishes of quiches, baguettes and other vegetarian options. The Gothic stone-clad restaurant also aspires to be a focal point for the local community and boasts a range of cultural events, such as art exhibitions, food and craft workshops, and live music.
Semproniana (Carrer del Rosselló 148) is renowned Catalan chef Ada Parellada’s original restaurant in Barcelona, offering stunning reinterpretations of classic French and Catalan cuisine. Parellada often combines simple ingredients in unexpected ways, such as mussels steamed with citrus and ginger, or tuna fillet drizzled with a spicy peanut sauce. This is bona fide gastronomy, but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid to bring children along. Many menu options are available in smaller portions, and children will love dishes such as the exotic prawn tartar with a secret tang, or classic macaroni stuffed with black butifarra. On Saturday afternoons the restaurant also offers cooking workshops (available in English) for kids from four to 10 years old.
Sightseeing can be tiring, especially for those in your group with shorter legs. So after walking all over the city, why not indulge in the Spanish tradition of la merienda (an afternoon snack, usually something sweet). There are numerous xocolateries in Barcelona’s city centre, serving the popular combination of thick hot chocolate with churros or other sweet pastries, but for families the one to beat is La Nena (Carrer de Ramón y Cajal 36) in the bohemian neighbourhood of Gràcia. A bright colourful place always filled with the sound of children’s laughter, the cafe offers a selection of mouth-watering cakes to go with your coffee or chocolate.
Pudding (Carrer de Pau Claris 90), reminiscent of the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland, is guaranteed to make an impression. Bolstered by a topsy-turvy theme that sees circus tarps billowing from the ceiling amid a mishmash of eccentric tables and chairs, this French-owned establishment specialises in robust, filling tarts both sweet and savory, and, of course, a large selection of specialty teas. Giant toadstools tower over a downstairs play area, where kids can occupy themselves with books, games, chalkboards and even iPads.
A little out of the city centre in the affluent neighborhood of Sant Gervasi, you’ll find Petit à Petit (Carrer de les Santjoanistes 24). A tastefully decorated, wood-lined space brimming with fresh flowers, it’s the brainchild of Marta Codina, a young single mother who set out to pursue her dream of opening a coffee shop where parents could feel comfortable bringing young children. The idea is that adults can enjoy a relaxed time while youngsters have fun and make friends, and to this end the cafe boasts some fantastic coffee, juices, homemade cakes, and for those parents in need of an extra little something, some of the best mixed mojitos in town.