El Born (El Borne in Spanish) is right now Barcelona’s trendiest neighborhood. It’s Catalunya’s answer to SoHo; a haven for writers and artists, fashionistas and fashionable chefs. To say that the Born is charming is an understatement. The ancient streets look like something out of a storybook, with spectacular buildings and tiny little cafes. Among them is the Santa María del Mar church, which cannot be missed. Designed by Catalan architect Berenguer de Montagut and is was the first Catalan Gothic church that was ever completed, and sits on a beautiful plaza with bars and restaurants with outdoor seating for dining or just having a drink. One of the bars that you must visit while in Born is La Vinya del Senyor, a wine bar with an exhaustive wine list, specializing in foods that are in season. Try the secallona sausage and the esqueixada de bacallá.
Being the trendy destination that it is, Born is home to some of the most cutting-edge restaurants and bars in the city. El Xampanyet is a bar specializing in cava close to Picasso Museum. It’s a popular meeting place for students and young urban professionals who seems to enjoy the Daiquiri de frambuesa (raspberry daiquiri). For dining, we recommend Abac (closed in August), lead by chef Xavier Pellicer who bases his menu in Catalan dishes with a touch of the experimental, such as foie gras steamed in bamboo. On nearby Calle Argentería, try El Senyor de Parellada, which specializes in traditional Catalan dishes and desserts.
For tapas, we like Restaurante Santa María where tapas are laboriously prepared with only the finest ingredients. Nearby Cal Pep also has some sublime tapas; try the chipirones con garbanzos, the sepia con arroz or the excellent Botifarra amb foie. The clams — almejas a la marinera — are among the freshest we’ve ever had. For egg lovers, try a tortilla de chorizo with aioli.