If you’re a visitor interested in a memorable dining experience, you may wish to stop at the legendary restaurant Els Quatre Gats for lunch or dinner. Located amid the gothic maze of Barrio Gotico’s narrow, twisting streets, the restaurant serves traditional Catalan and Mediterranean cuisine. And, while it is highly-regarded for the preparation and presentation of its dishes, it is also well-known for its remarkable history.
In fact, Els Quatre Gats origins date back to the late 19th century. At that time, a local businessman, Pere Romeu, became impressed with the charm and ambience of a Parisian café-restaurant with cabaret named Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat) and decided to replicate it in Barcelona.
And that is exactly what he did. Pere Romeu’s new restaurant, located on Montsio Street, opened its doors to the public for the first time on July 12, 1897 and became an almost immediate success. The restaurant became a popular destination for Barcelona’s most prominent and best-known avant-garde artists of the early twentieth century.
Pablo Picasso dined there frequently and even held the first two exhibitions of his early work in its main dining room in 1900.
Many other famous people of the day dined at Els Quatre Gats regularly, as well. These included famous musicians like Albanez, Barcelona’s most-revered architect Antoni Gaudi and many other famous and not-so-famous bohemian artists from that period.
Visitors to the restaurant today can still sense the creative spirit and bohemian flair instilled in it by the famous diners of so long ago. Moreover, many remnants of that remarkable period are clearly evident on the walls of Els Quatre Gats now, in 2009 – in the works of Picasso, Russinol, Casas and Monell.
Amid all the glory … a dark period. While the restaurant enjoyed great success in the first few years after it opened, it fell on hard times by 1903. That is when Pere Romeu, as a result of mismanagement, became buried under a mountain of debt and closed the famous and beloved restaurant. Remarkably, it remained closed for many years.
In the 1970s, new owners restored the restaurant and re-opened it to the public – at the very same location where it once stood … Montsio Street.
Today, Els Quatre Gats is representative of the district where it is located – Barrio Gotico – and of Barcelona’s grand Modernist period, as well. It is also very popular at lunch and dinner with both locals and visitors alike.
A visit to this restaurant begins on the outside at its impressive arched wood-and-stone entrance. A complete menu, with prices, is also clearly visible to people before they enter through the front door.
Els Quatre Gats is equally impressive inside. These is a handsome and stylish bar set aside for diners interested in enjoying only a simple snack or a cup of hot coffee. The bar is noteworthy for its antique marble tables, dark, polished wooden furniture, ornate and decorative carvings, original drawings and photographs.
The main dining room is, of course, magnificent. It seats up to 120 people and features marble columns, traditional ceramic floors and large crystal chandeliers.
There is also a unique “upper level”, a narrow floor that runs along the perimeter of the dining room all along the walls. Ideally-suited for couples interested in enjoying a romantic dinner, this special area includes “tables for two” set comfortably apart from one another.
Diners are also treated each evening to charming, relaxing and soothing live music provided by a piano player and a violinist. The combination of the two helps to create a very pleasant dining experience.
Prices are surprisingly affordable. Lunch is served daily from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. and is reasonably priced. Els Quatre Gats offers a prix fixe luncheon at only 12.97 Euros plus a modest 7% IVA that includes all of the following: first and second courses (4 optional selections for each), choice of dessert, bread, water and wine.
Dinner is available a la carte and is generally somewhat more expensive (about 30 Euros per person). While more costly than lunch, the price is still considered reasonable and the meal portions are considerably larger than those served at lunch.
The menu choices are excellent and all are very well prepared. Diners can order such entrees as Trout a la Meuniere, Iberian Loin of Pork with Mustard, Botifarra I Mongetes (grilled black sausage with white beans), Esqueixada (salt cod salad with onions and peppers) or delicious Salmon Lasagna.
Many of the dishes, like those mentioned, are classic Catalan cuisine. The restaurant also serves typical Spanish fare, as well.
The restaurant is open daily from 8:00 A.M. to 2:00 A.M. It is located at Calle Montsio 3 bis.
Telephone: (34) 93 302 41 40
How to get there:
Els Quatre Gats is easily accessible by Metro – Plaza Cataluna Green Line (L3); Red Line (L1).
The opportunity to enjoy lunch or dinner at a table where Pablo Picasso may once have sat is unique and special. Take advantage of it. Add a visit to Els Quatre Gats to your itinerary during your stay in Barcelona.