If you’re in Barcelona and looking for some fresh seafood then you need to check out La Paradeta. This place has seven locations throughout the city, so it is likely that you will find one near where you’re staying. I typically try to avoid chain restaurants when I’m traveling; I made an exception for La Paradeta for their unique dining experience. (We also stopped in a Taco Bell in Valencia when we saw that they served beer and French fries, we just had to try them)
La Paradeta is very popular among locals and tourists, if you plan on going then you will want to show up early, there will probably be a line formed before the restaurant opens, and the queue will remain throughout the night.
La Paradeta serves up fresh seafood in a market style setting. When you walk in the door, all of the options are right there in front of you. There were so many options to choose from, basically every shellfish you can imagine, including live lobster, mussels, clams, and my new favorite, navajas. I had eaten navajas earlier in the week at another great restaurant in Barcelona, Casa Mari y Rufo, and really loved them. You can also get fish; they had tuna and monkfish available when we were there. Cuttlefish, squid, and octopus were also offered. It’s a great selection, and some of the items may even still be alive, talk about fresh!
All of the food is sold by weight, all you have to do is tell the attendant at the front how much of each item you want and they place it in a tray for you, weigh it, and send it back to the kitchen to be prepared. There are a few items that you will have the option of having it fried (frito) or grilled. (a la plancha) After everything is weighed out you will be given a ticket to bring to the cash register. When you get to the register you can add on some side items like bread and salad, get drinks, they have beer and a selection of wines, and pay the bill. Once you have paid all you need to do is find a table and wait for your number to be called. The number shows up on the ticket, so don’t lose it. Some items come out later than others, so you will have to keep listening for you number until you have everything that you ordered.
We were touring La Sagrada Familia before we went to La Paradeta, so we went to the location nearest the basilica, which is conveniently called “La Paradeta Sagrada Familia.” Just a short walk from one of Barcelona’s best attractions, we arrived about thirty minutes prior to the 8pm opening time, and a there was already a line. The restaurant opened right at 8, and the line moved fairly quickly. All of the day’s options were displayed on ice, everything looking very fresh and delicious.
When it was our turn we ordered clams, cuttlefish, giant prawns, tuna, and of course, some navajas! We ordered all of the items a la plancha (grilled) and they were sent to the back once we were given our ticket with the weights and prices of all of the items. Everything is labeled with it’s name in both Spanish and Catalan, (a language typically spoken in Barcelona) the prices for the items are also clearly displayed. Getting through the ordering process was pretty easy; most of the staff speaks English. Let the staffer that’s helping you know what you want as you move around the display counter and they will pull it for you.
Once we had completed our seafood order and recieved our ticket, we went to the cash register and ordered a couple of beers and some bread to go with the seafood feast to come. We found a table in the middle of the restaurant and waited for our number to be called. (numbers are announced in Spanish and English luckily) While we waited, the restaurant continued to fill up and the line in front continued to grow. Thankfully we got in the door early.
After about ten minutes, our number was called for the fist time, and our clams were ready. They were sautéed in a light tomato and oil sauce and were very good. Our number was called again a few minutes later, and the rest of our food was ready. The giant prawns, tuna, navajas, and cuttlefish were all delivered on the plate so we could split the dish family style. All of the shellfish was lightly seasoned and tasted great. Seafood this fresh does not need much seasoning. Once again I loved the navajas, wish I could find them in the states!
The only part of the meal that wasn’t very good was the tuna. It was a bit overcooked and a little chewy. Given another chance, I probably would order the monkfish instead. Overall the meal was delicious. The total price for both of us was about €50, that’s not too bad for so much seafood in my opinion. Since we were full, we had no need to go back up and order more food, but some other diners were going back up to order other items, and they were allowed to order without standing in the huge line.
At the end of the meal all diners are expected to bus their own tables, as there is no table service available. We complied, but there were several other patrons who just left their trays and plates on the tables, making it harder for incoming diners to get seated quickly. So if you go to La Paradeta, make sure to be courteous to other diners and the staff, clean up your table when you’re done.
A meal at La Paradeta is truly a unique experience, and if you like seafood, it’s a must when you’re in Barcelona. Reasonable prices for excellent and fresh seafood is what you’ll find there. There are not many places where you get to point at exactly what you’ll be eating, that is pretty cool.