Eating out with kids in Barcelona

Barcelona is one of those cities that was almost built for family holidays. You see an exquisite Gaudi building, they see a 'spooky bone house'. You enjoy a stroll down the historical boulevard of Las Ramblas, they enjoy trying to 'gently persuade' you to buy a rabbit from one of the open-air pet stores. Everyone's a winner. But after a morning of sightseeing, where do you head to feed your tribe?

Lucy Wilkinson's top tips for family-friendly restaurants

As with many Mediterranean cities, children are generally very welcome in Barcelona's restaurants and bars and often end up spoilt rotten by doting waiters. Most restaurants, especially in tourist centres, offer kids' menus and even the most backwater of local bars tend to have a resident granny who is happy to suggest something child-friendly. As for local specialities, the Iberian habit of eating tapas (multiple, small plates of different dishes) is ideal for little ones who want to try a bit of everything.

Breakfast, Spanish-Style


Churros, a typical Spanish breakfast consisting of fried dough served with a thick hot chocolate, is also a big (and very messy) hit with children and sweet-toothed adults alike. If you would like to try them (or melindros, a local variant), there are several options dotted around Barcelona's old town. Granja Viader is a family-run café that has served the good stuff to punters including Pablo Picasso himself since 1870, and incorporates a small deli counter for you to pick up treats for later. Another good option is Cafè de l'Òpera, a haven of proper food and tranquility amid the noise and bad paella of Las Ramblas. Kids will love the churros and pretty cakes; grownups will love the neoclassical decor and similarly chic drinks list. Cafè de l'Òpera – Las Ramblas, 74; Tel 0034 933 17 75 85;

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Tapas for tots


For family-friendly bars with an authentic edge, try Bar del Pi – a traditional bar in prime sightseeing territory that has the added bonus of a fairly large (and usually quiet) seating area downstairs, ideal for families. If you are heading to the beach at Barceloneta, seafood restaurant El Rey de la Gamba is another good option with vast paellas, fideua (a local noodle-based fish dish) and very accommodating staff. A word of warning though – fussy eaters may be put off by the sheer number of ocean beasties that arrive on your plate. Typical dishes that appeal to kids include pan con tomate (tomato bread), calamares (fried squid) and croquetas.

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Go retro with 1950s cool


Peggy Sue's, with branches on Calle Balmes and Travesera de Gracia, makes a good change for older children pining for burgers, fries and a bit of rock 'n' roll. These retro diners (complete with free jukeboxes) serve up some of the best American-style food in Barcelona. Peggy Sue's – C/Balmes, 24 and Travesera de Gracia, 35; Tel 0034 93 304 20 94 or 0034 93 414 25 20 respectivel; Opening hours 1.30pm-11.30pm

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Catalan cooking lessons and pudding hotspot


For a fun afternoon (and at the same time to score a lovely quiet adults-only lunch), check out chic restaurant Semproniana – a Catalan restaurant whose owner also runs Patacutxi: on-site cookery classes (in Catalan/Spanish) for children for the meagre price of €20 per head. These run on term-time Saturdays from 13.30 to 15.30 and include lunch for the kids. If you are still hungry after all that, Pudding on Calle Pau Claris in the Eixample, is an Alice in Wonderland-style eatery famed for its excellent cakes and, as the name would suggest, desserts. For those of you who do not live entirely on sugar, they also do a Menu del Dia (set menu) for 10.50 and organise some distinctly high-brow cultural classes for children including opera, Chinese and (ahem) comic books. Semproniana - Carrer de Rosello 148; Tel 0034 934 531 820; Opening hours: Mon-Sat 1pm-4pm and 8pm-11.30pm Pudding – C/Pau Claris, 90; Tel 0034 936 761 025; Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8am-10pm, Sat 9am-9pm, Sun 10am-8pm

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Further afield


Just outside the city centre and on the way to the famous Parc Guell, the family-friendly neighbourhood of Gracia is another good place to find restaurants that accommodate little ones. When the weather is good, the terraces around Plaza Vila de Gracia, Plaza Virreina and Plaza de la Revolució de Setembre del 1868 (which also has a little play area) are a good place to chow down while the kids burn off some energy. Chocolateria La Nena, a local favourite, is exceptionally good for families, with super cakes, veggie food and board games and books. Further afield, Poble Nou's Papas & the Mamas is a new, chic café designed specifically with families in mind, from allowing adequate space for buggies to providing a play area and child-friendly menu. La Nena – C/Ramon y Cajal 36, Gracia; Tel 0034 93 285 1476; Opening hours: 9am-2pm and 4pm-10pm Papas & the Mamas - Rambla del Poblenou 125-129; Tel 934 856 793; Opening hours: Mon 1pm-8pm Tue-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 10am-8pm

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