Tucked away in the Raval, in the gardens of the Old Hospital Santa Creu, El Jardi is a quaint and very charming outdoor tapas bar and restaurant. Ideal during the spring and summer, the restaurant serves fresh salads and tapas and also features an extensive wine list. During the winter the outdoor heaters and blankets provide for a cozy and fairly warm atmosphere, while during the summer, it's hard to find a more romantic place to dine or to have an intimate evenings amongst friends. The staff are mostly unpretentious Argentineans who take things slow, so don't go there if you're already hungry as it'll take some time to get your food.
Recommended for Casual Dining because: A tasty tapas outdoor restaurant tucked in an old hospital courtyard in the Raval
Sam's expert tip: They don't take reservations so if you're going for lunch show up before 1:30pm if you want a table, especially during the summer
With its hanging disco ball, plush leather seats and wooden tables, many Ginger fans have coined this trendy wine and cocktail bar as an 'airport lounge'. It is however, rather known for it's innovative cocktails, wide selection of amazing wine and high quality tapas that make you feel as if you should be in a fancier place. This is a Barcelona gem, ideal for weekend adventures, intimate drinks and lively evenings on the town. Ginger is nestled behind Plaza Sant Jaume, in Plaza San Jus a little hard to find if you don't know where to look, but once you stumble upon it you'll be sure to mark the spot.
Romantic, intimate and cozy, this dimly lit wine and tapas bar is tucked away on one of the Gothic Quarters' many side streets. Ideal for dates or a few drinks with friends, it's owned by a Canadian and the service is top notch and so is the food. Andu is very casual with long wooden tables at the back, comfy couches at the entrance when you arrive and a mix of hippy and boho wait staff. Their menu isn't extensive but what they do have is delicious. It's the perfect place to start or end the evening or spend several hours there relaxing and sipping good Spanish wine.
Recommended for Casual Dining because: A charming, relaxing tapas bar in the Gothic Quarter great for casual dates
Sam's expert tip: Try their hummus
A trendy, young, lively and unique restaurant that specializes in Asian tapas. Mosquito has found its niche offering the most amazing Dim Sum and dumplings, you'll actually feel like you're in Hong Kong and China, while dipping into a wide variety of tapas amongst friends. Mosquito is a small locale in the heart of the Born, owned and run by a British native who spent years in Asia mastering the art of Asian cuisine. This place is always packed and for good reason. It's quite unassuming, with wooden tables and a curtain separating the bathroom from the rest of the space.
Recommended for Casual Dining because: An innovative twist on Asian fusion tapas, this is a rustic, tasty restaurant in the Born
Sam's expert tip: They have an excellent selection of local as well as international beer.
Featuring a mix of high quality Oriental and Mediterranean cuisine, Salero was established before the Born became trendy and is now one of the 'go to' hot spots for delicious food and fun evenings out on the town. Dim lighting and candlelit tables coupled with a warm and somehow magical ambiance, make this restaurant ideal for dates. Since it's situated in the heart of the action, when dinner's over all you have to do is step outside and you have tons of options at your fingertips in order to keep the night going. The ambiance might seem a little fancier, but there's no need to dress up too much for this restaurant.
Recommended for Casual Dining because: A slightly nicer restaurant in the Born, ideal for dates on a casual scale
Sam's expert tip: They have a few outdoor tables but be sure to reserve them in advance especially in the summer.
The antique decor that adorns El Salon is simply charming, and the menu is equally impressive. It is based on a Catalan traditional menu, but it is colored with French influence. Dishes you should try include roast guinea fowl with chestnut confit or an aubergine tart with goat's cheese and pesto. El Salon is owned and run by a Pakistani native who puts so much heart into his food, the menu and overall decor. It has a family-style feel yet the food is high-quality and avant-garde. The terrace is one of the greatest selling points for El Salon as it's surrounded by the old Roman Wall and is very romantic.
Recommended for Casual Dining because: A beautiful setting with tasty nouvelle cuisine in a very relaxed setting
Sam's expert tip: Try their Tuna Steak it's amazing
A beef lover's paradise, El Foro cooks a mean Argentinean bife de chorizo and is one of the few places in Barcelona that knows how to make a steak 'poco hecho' (bloody rare). This lively, airy and spacious restaurant is excellent for dates, parties or just an intimate evening out amongst friends. When it comes to lunch, they have a very affordable three-course lunch menu. Even if you're not a carnivore, you still have options; El Foro has an extensive menu including pasta, pizza and salad dishes amongst other Argentinean specialties. Every morning El Foro also features a small breakfast menu, with fresh orange juice; the restaurant also has free wi-fi.
Recommended for Casual Dining because: The best Argentinean restaurant in the city. Large, spacious, tasty food and super casual
Sam's expert tip: Try their Bianchi Malbec, an excellent and reasonably priced Argentinean wine. They also have a tasty and cheap, three-course menu del dia for lunch.
A slice of Paris in the heart of Barcelona's Ciutate Vella, if you're in the mood for a french cafe/bistro, this is the place to go. Run by all French staff, this rustic, quaint and incredibly personable cafe acts as a restaurant as well as a late night wine bar. It's an ideal place to set up shop and work for the day using their free Wi-Fi while sipping on a glass of Bordeaux accompanied with a plate of Comte cheese. Their food is high-end but the vibe is casual, unpretentious and incredibly inviting. They also have a wonderful terrace which is perfect during the summer.
Recommended for Casual Dining because: A trendy French restaurant with a great terrace in the upper born, super casual
Sam's expert tip: Try their Comte and Ham salad
A vegetarian oasis on the edge of the Raval neighborhood, Teresa Carles serves fresh vegetables and fruits, authentic salads and even brunch. This is a comfortable, relaxing, very warm and inviting place to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and even takeaway. Located in the Raval neighborhood, Teresa Carles is a pioneer of the Vegetarian restaurant scene and is constantly updating its menu to include innovative dishes, fresh fruit drinks and a more extensive lunch and breakfast menu. They also have some of the best coffee in the city. The restaurant has wi-fi and opens at 9am so if you're an early bird looking for a place to work and eat, this is idea.
Recommended for Casual Dining because: A delicious vegetarian restaurant in the Raval, stylish yet unassuming
Sam's expert tip: Try their breakfast and brunch menu served daily from 9am-2pm.
Finally a Barcelona restaurant that has mastered the brunch menu. Not only is Federal's classic decor, spacious setting and inviting ambiance selling points in themselves, but this Australian owned rustic three-story diner, restaurant and cocktail bar all rolled into one, boasts the best breakfast in the city. Whether you're carving pancakes, eggs 'benny', smoked salmon mixed with spinach or just a Mimosa to help with the Sunday hangover, this is a Barcelona treat and a brunch lover's haven. They also have an extensive lunch and dinner menu and with free wi-fi you could easily stay all day as they rarely ask you to leave.
Recommended for Casual Dining because: Casual and tasty this is a brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktail restaurant with a great terrace
Sam's expert tip: Get there before 10:30am on weekends. They don't take reservations and they are ALWAYS full