Ever find yourself walking in El Born, right by the old market, and see an enormous line of hungry and excited-looking people? Ever wonder what on earth they could possibly be waiting for, with smiles on their faces? After passing by this restaurant at least 50 times, I decided to jump in that line and wait my turn for what looked like.. a
After passing by this line at least 50 times, I decided to jump in and wait my turn for what looked like.. a seafood market?
La Paradeta is a chain of six restaurants, with their latest addition opening in Gracia less than two weeks ago, where one can truly experience good seafood without losing one’s appetite after seeing the bill.. In other words, great food, great prices, and Catalan approved.
How it works
So the first few times I passed by this place, I thought it was legitimately a seafood market and that they had the best quality undersea critters in the city. Wrong, but only partially wrong.
This restaurant is unique in that it is set up like a market: you look over the supreme selection of prawns, tuna, baby squid, lobsters, mussels, oysters, etc, then you make a decision of what you want and how much, and then they weigh it for you.
It’s different than a market because, after choosing your catch, you tell them how you want it to be prepared, cooked or fried, with garlic and parsley, and in addition you can ask for salad or whatever seafood soup of the day there is.
You pay for the meal before eating. They will call your number (in Spanish and English) that is on your receipt, and you go and fetch your supper from the kitchen window directly. The tricky part is finding a table because this restaurant is set up like a cafeteria/canteen,.
Speaking of decoration, this place is not the ideal Michelin Star setting for a romantic date or a place to bring your boss in a suit. However, if you are there to impress your palate and protect your wallet, this place will not fail. Not only is it fresh, and I mean literally straight out of the ocean fresh, it is local, and a place to enjoy some quality seafood in Barcelona without the sky-high tourist bill.
Plan which day you want to go, obviously there will be fewer people during the weekdays than on the weekends. Get your competitive spirit going, and get there early. I don’t mean Spanish early, I mean 15 minutes before the restaurant opens. You will wear a triumphant smile as you see the other stragglers hanging their heads in defeat and dragging their feet towards the back of the line, kicking themselves for not arriving earlier.
As I mentioned before, there are six chains (one is in Sitges), all of which have timetables and addresses on the website, but all are closed on Mondays. My two personal favorites are the locations in El Born and in Sants, however, I have yet to go to the brand spanking new location in Gracia!
It makes everyone’s life much easier if you pay with cash, but I believe they are now accepting credit cards in some locations.
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