If Grand Central Market is an urban food hall for hipsters, then El Nacional is an international food palace for travelers. Located right in the heart of the main shopping street of Gràcia, El Nacional is like a classy version of an opulent Vegas food court. Consisting of four bars, four restaurants and other specialty areas, each section has its own theme, from meats to tapas to oysters to cocktails.
The space itself is opulent and luscious, filled with gilded details and plants and jewel tones. It’s like overstimulation in every way, so much to see, smell, taste. For visitors, it’s a convenient one-stop-shop for all the local foods in a beautiful setting. Whether you’re here for a full meal or just for a drink, it’s practically a tourist destination in its own right. It’d be easy to spend hours just hopping from one restaurant to the next, all under the same roof.
Go here for: a beautiful, easy, tourist-friendly yet classy eating experience
Order this: well you have a lot to choose from, so it depends on which restaurant you’re in
Amount of time to spend: an hour or two, or several depending on what you’re feeling
When to come: peak meal times (which are a couple hours later than American meal times) are quite packed and there will likely be lines for at least some of the restaurants, so come at normal American meal times and it should be fairly safe
Getting here: conveniently located right by the Passeig de Gràcia station, lines 2, 3, 4.
Other things to note:
Even though they call El Nacional a restaurant, it is more of a collection of related restaurants, so each sub-restaurant does have its own menu and dedicated seating area.
Last visited: May 2019
Last updated: August 2020