Choux puffs from Patachou in Barcelona

Hometown: Paris, France
Occupation: Co-owner, Patachou
Years lived in Barcelona: 3

Click here for Thomas’s shortlist

Must-Visit Standout Restaurants

There’s a multitude [of tapas restaurants] in Barcelona but two of my favorites are Paco Meralgo in central district Eixample, and the other one, that I would place slightly above because of its more rough and down-to-earth looks is called El 58 and can be found in the center of Poblenou on the main rambla of the district.

I’m very much into fine dining also, but my preference goes for quality street food or simple casual dining so I’ll give some props to what has recently become my favorite burger in town and that can be found hiding away in a small Poblenou street. It’s a little rough burger joint with LA vibes called Chingon.

Moving on to a worldwide favorite, and quite big in Barcelona (the Italian community being very big here): pizza. My favorite pizza place has to be Parking Pizza. Their main spot is on Passeig de Sant Joan, where you can find a few cool spots for brunch. The place is big, nice, cool, maybe a bit hipster for some, and the pizza is traditional Neapolitan-style dough topped with high quality products. You can’t go wrong with that.

I love Asian food, once again for the diversity of their street food, and also for the flavors. My favorite cuisine is probably Indian cuisine. Masala 73 in Eixample does a really good job at mixing a bit of the Spanish culture with Indian flavors in a cool, relaxed atmosphere.

The restaurant I go to the most in Barcelona is probably Mosquito, a small place doing “Asian tapas,” which basically means they have a wide range of dim sum and small portions you can share for dishes, which is, in my opinion, the best way to eat Chinese-style food. It’s situated in Born and has the best quality price I’ve seen in town.

Last one will be if you want a bit of the local feel, a small restaurant just next to home called Can Boneta. It’s a small family-run business that serves local Catalan cuisine.

Cream puffs at Patachou
Cream puffs at Patachou

Personal Favorite Dish at Patachou

Hard question. I think I would go for the passion fruit chou. It’s a popular choice but is still a change from a regular French pastry flavor, and maracuya is probably my favorite fruit. But when my sweet tooth is on the rise, I go for white chocolate and dulce de leche or one of the cakes we serve at Patachou.

My Perfect “Dining Out Day”

I’m going to try and keep my choux and éclairs out of this one, as it would seem too biased 😉, but I think I would still start my day early with a stop by Patachou as we serve really good coffee, for a nice café con leche and a proper pain au chocolat — not an easy thing to find in town.

I would then stop at a nice brunch place at 11, maybe The Benedict for something more on the full English breakfast side, or Can Dendê, Granja Petitbo, Brunch & Cake . . . there’s a multitude of [brunch options] here.

Bagel with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon from Brunch & Cake Barcelona
Brunch & Cake’s scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, and guacamole on an organic multiseed bagel, with a side of hummus fatteh

Around 2 p.m. I would go for the Asian tapas I talked about at Mosquito, fill myself up with dumplings. Around 6 p.m. I would make a stop at any local Catalan bar for a drink with friends and some simple tapas (patatas bravas, pimiento del padron, maybe a portion of pan con tomate).

To finish off the day, I would head to a proper 3-course restaurant of my choosing, probably Indian if I really have to pick my favorite. After all that, I think I should be ready to sleep.

Favorite Tapas Spots

As I said above, two of my favorite places for tapas are Paco Meralgo and El 58, but there are a lot of really nice ones in town. Sensi Tapas is also a very good choice, and if you want something slightly less pricey and more traditional, I think my basic, classic, and good tapas place would be Flauta. It’s one of the “institutions” for tapas in Barcelona, and chances are that if you go to any of the “institutions,” you’re going to places owned by the same group. But my personal favorite is Flauta II. It’s the most authentic and old-fashioned one and since you are slightly higher up in the center, next to Diagonal, you will have a bit less tourists and it’ll be less hectic.

My Guilty Pleasure

The kebab at Bismillah Kebabish might be my guiltiest pleasure. It’s a cheap fast food place, the real regular kebab place. Except there’s a twist that reminds me of home where it has become a famous way of serving it and is, in my opinion, the one little thing that French people managed enhancing in Indian cuisine. Instead of using the regular dürüm or bread, they put your kebab meat in a cheese naan (the French version of cheese naan that basically has the cream cheese with a red cow on it in the naan, not to name any brands . . . it’s heaven 😊).

Favorite Watering Holes

Barcelona has a pretty big nightlife and the number of bars per habitant is crazy. I’m into my music so I tend to go out to see specific artists, whatever the place, but if I had to name a few places I would go drink with friends, I would say Guzzo or Bar Sauvage in Born district for a party night; any terrasse on Carrer d’Enric Granados for a little relaxed after-work drink with friends; a cocktail at Pipa Club on Plaça Reial on a night out; or at The Academy, part of the Dry Martini Bar, for a master signature cocktail during a classy evening.

Must-Try Barcelona Specialties

It’s hard to say. I mean, anyone coming to Spain in general isn’t going to leave without a paella, some churros, turrón, but all those aren’t really from Barcelona in my opinion. Doesn’t mean you can’t eat great ones here, though.

For paella, actually, I would recommend the restaurant Arume — best one I’ve had in town. It’s really popular, but off the beaten path. And for good paella, I think it’s good to go off the beaten path, actually, even if I understand wanting to be next to the beach while eating seafood (it’s just most of those places are tourist traps). I have the duck confit and mushroom paella topped with fresh aioli when I go there anyway 😉.

One thing that I could name that is definitely local is crema Catalana, so try and find a nice one in a local Catalan restaurant (My inner Parisian is crying out, “Crème Brulée is French though,” haha).

The Best Thing About Barcelona’s Food Scene

I love the diversity of food in Barcelona. Spanish cuisine is quite rich and Catalonia is home to very creative cuisine, while all the same being very serious about their “terroir” cuisine and all the traditions around it. In other parts of Spain, I believe you don’t go beyond the “terroir” as much as you do in Barcelona. Places that are home to a multitude of cultures have this big advantage with regards to everything food-related. Also, I’m terribly fond of bite-sized foods, street food, etc., and even if tapas finds its origin in other parts of Spain, this culture is very present in Barcelona, too.

The One Thing Any Barcelona Visitor Must Do

Barcelona is a city you visit from outside. No need to pay for every single Gaudí place — just pick one and stick to seeing the others from the exterior. Just get out as much as possible. Walk around town, feel how vibrant the city is — the different moods depending on the districts — enjoy the sea (slightly outside of Barcelona if you can, or at least near Poblenou instead of going to Barceloneta), the nightlife in the center and Old Town, and maybe keep one sunny evening to go up and have a sunset picnic at Bunkers del Carmel, one of the best views of the city.

Thomas Pennington’s Shortlist

Patachou, Roger de Lluria, 114 (Eixample); French bakery, open 9:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m. Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sunday.
Recommended items: passion fruit chou, dulce de leche chou, pain au chocolat, coffee.

Paco Meralgo, Carrer de Muntaner, 171 (Eixample); tapas, open 1–4 p.m. and 8 p.m.–12:30 a.m. daily.
A standout restaurant

El 58, Rambla del Poblenou, 58 (El Poblenou); tapas, open 1:30–11 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday, 1:30–4 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday.
A standout restaurant

Chingon, Carrer de Pallars, 329 (El Poblenou); Californian, open 12–4 p.m. and 7:30–11:30 p.m. Tuesday–Thursday (until midnight Friday–Sunday), closed Monday.
A standout restaurant
Recommended item: burger

Parking Pizza, Passeig de Sant Joan, 56 (Eixample); pizza, open 1–4 p.m. and 8–11 p.m. daily (open until midnight Friday–Saturday).
Second location: Carrer de Londres 98 (Eixample); open 1–4 p.m. and 8–11 p.m. daily (until midnight Fridays and Saturdays).
A standout restaurant

Masala 73, Carrer de Muntaner, 152 (Eixample); Indian, open 1–4 p.m. and 8–11 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday (until midnight Friday–Saturday), closed Sunday–Monday.
A standout restaurant

Mosquito, Carrer dels Carders, 46 (El Born); Asian tapas, open 6 p.m.–12:30 a.m. Monday, 1 p.m.–12:30 a.m. Tuesday–Wednesday, noon–12:30 a.m. Thursday–Sunday.
A standout restaurant

Can Boneta, Carrer de Balmes, 139 (Eixample); Catalan, open 1–3:45 p.m. and 8:30–11 p.m. Monday–Friday, closed Saturday–Sunday.
A standout restaurant

The Benedict, Carrer d’en Gignàs, 23 (Barri Gòtic); American and Spanish, open 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Wednesday; 9 a.m.–4 p.m. and 7 p.m.–2:30 a.m. Thursday–Friday; 9 a.m.–2:30 a.m. Saturday–Sunday.
Recommended for brunch

Can Dendê, Carrer de la Ciutat de Granada, 44 (El Poblenou); American and Spanish, open 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday, Thursday, and Friday; 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Saturday–Sunday, closed Tuesday–Wednesday.
Recommended for brunch

Granja Petitbo, Passeig de Sant Joan, 82 (Eixample); cafe, open 9 a.m.–11:30 p.m. Monday–Wednesday (until midnight Thursday–Friday); 10 a.m.–midnight Saturday, 10 a.m.–11:30 p.m. Sunday.
Recommended for brunch

Brunch & Cake, Carrer d’Enric Granados, 19 (Eixample); brunch, open 8:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. daily.
Second location: Carrer d’Enric Granados, 145 (Eixample); open 9 a.m.–8 p.m. daily.
Third location: Carrer del Rosselló (Eixample); open 9 a.m.–8 p.m. daily.
Fourth location: Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 5 (Barceloneta); open 9 a.m.–7 p.m. daily.
Recommended for brunch

Sensi Tapas, Carrer Ample, 26 (Barri Gòtic); tapas, open 7 p.m.–midnight nightly.
Recommended for tapas

La Flauta, Carrer d’Aribau, 23 (Eixample); tapas, open 7 a.m.–1 p.m. Monday–Saturday, closed Sunday.
Recommended for tapas

Flauta II, Carrer de Balmes, 164 (Eixample); tapas.
Recommended for tapas

Bismillah Kebabish, Carrer de Joaquín Costa, 22 (El Raval); Middle Eastern, open noon–midnight daily (until 1 a.m. Friday–Saturday).
Recommended item: kebab

Guzzo, Plaça Comercial, 10 (El Born); bar, open 6 p.m.–3 a.m. Monday–Friday, noon–3:30 a.m. Saturday–Sunday.
Recommended bar

Bar Sauvage, Passeig del Born, 13 (El Born); bar, open 7 p.m.–3 a.m. Sunday–Thursday (until 3:30 a.m. Friday–Saturday).
Recommended bar

Pipa Club, Plaça Reial, 3 (Barri Gòtic); bar, open 9 p.m.–3 a.m. nightly.
Recommended bar

The Academy, Carrer de Còrsega, 247 (Eixample); bar, open 8 p.m.–2:30 a.m. Friday–Saturday, closed Sunday–Thursday.
Recommended bar

Arume, Carrer d’En Botella, 11–13 (El Raval); contemporary Galician, open 1–3:30 p.m. Friday–Sunday, 7–11:30 p.m. nightly.
Recommended dish: duck confit and mushroom paella

*Many restaurants in Barcelona close or have limited hours during the summer months. We advise contacting restaurants in advance to confirm business hours.

About Thomas: Wanting to start a business that would combine their personal and professional interests, Thomas Pennington and his friend Leopold Bonte opened Patachou in 2017.

“Being both foodies at heart and seeing that the Barcelona scene was lacking on the sweet side, we decided to venture into the world of pastry, something that is obviously important to our heart, being one of the biggest strengths of France with regards to the culinary arts,” Pennington explained.

As the name suggests, Patachou specializes in choux pastry creations. Its menu features cream puffs and éclairs, as well as croissants, cakes, quiches, and coffee. Locals, tourists, and French expats have discovered this cozy Eixample pastisseria in the past year, and the responses have been encouraging. “I’m happy to say that so far it’s been all positive,” said Pennington.