My secret tip is the restaurant El Velódromo in Barcelona. I think it was the name that first attracted me, as I was an aspiring cyclist when I was a teenager, and still like to get out on two wheels when I can. The man who created it, Manuel Pastor Bone, was also a great fan of cycling.
It opened in 1933, and has a rich cultural history. During the Spanish Civil war in the ’30s, it was a haunt of the Republican government in exile, which occasionally held meetings here. It was the heart of the Gauche Divine movement of artists in the ’60s, the birthplace of Catalan history and culture magazine L’Avenç in the ’70s, and the place where the fashionable came in the ’80s to hang out and play pool before hitting the nightclubs. After being restored to its original Art Deco splendour, it reopened in 2009 with a great chef – the Michelin-starred Carles Abellán. You can really feel the history when you go there for a meal or a coffee.
We have pubs in the UK, the Americans have bars, and the Europeans have café culture, and here, at El Velódromo, you always get the impression you’re in a place where politicians, artists, creatives, intellectuals and the youth have come over the years to get together over a beer or a plate of tapas, and still do. And true to Spain’s late-night culture, it stays open from 7am to 2am during the week, and 6am to 3am at the weekends. I try to go whenever I’m in the city. I can recommend the croquettes.
El Velódromo, Carrer de Muntaner, 213, 08036 Barcelona; barvelodromo.com