7 Portes: Best Paella in Barcelona

Visit 7 Portes in Barcelona and you don’t need to look in the history books to know this luxury restaurant has something special about it. As soon as you spot the grand arched windows, elaborate stonework and luxury dining setting, you can almost sense there are a thousand stories behind this place.

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If you have a penchant for luxe dining and a piece of history, you’ll be interested to know this is the oldest paella restaurant in the city and its roots go back more than 170 years ago.

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The founder, a Catalan businessman called Josep Xifré I Cases opened 7 Portes initially as a café. He wanted to imitate the elaborate buildings of luxurious Parisian squares in the pre-First World War era.

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The building didn’t stay as a French café. It underwent several transformations and name changes before it became the famous Spanish restaurant you see here today. But if you visit, you’ll find chintzy old-fashioned lampshades, monochrome tile flooring, old wooden beams and traditional artwork all help retain the charming Parisien feel.

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Why the name 7 Portes? Well it all came down to Josep’s goal to imitate the Style of the French upper class. Translating to ‘seven doors’, he wanted to create many glass entrances through which diners could enter. You’ll find that all seven of them still wrap around the building today.

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On to the most important thing: the food. You won’t find a menu solely made up of paella at 7 Portes. You’ll find various lovely and fresh appetizers such as Catalan-style salads, pasta mains such as veal cannelloni and glorious meat dishes including entrecote of Galician veal.

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The seafood is, as expected, a star of the show here too. So an array of delicious seafood medleys and sharing platters have all earned 7 Portes its revered reputation.

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But I’m not in Barcelona very often, and high profile customers have been coming here for years just for the paella. So it only seemed right to sample their version of Spain’s iconic dish.

You’ll find around eight different versions of rice, varying from the black rice cooked with cuttlefish ink to meaty paella and even a soup style paella.

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On the waiter’s recommendation, I ordered the Rich Man’s Paella – an amazing mixture of chicken, pork, cuttlefish, sausage, lobster and prawns. If you’re something of a paella aficionado, you may know this dish has become quite famous in Barcelona.

It dates back to a wealthy man named Juli Parellada who spent a lot of his time in Barcelona’s most expensive restaurants.

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Feeling a little bit bored with the café menu, he asked the waiter if the chef could cook him up a special rice dish. The result was the hearty and bold flavours of the Rich Man’s Paella you’ll find here today.

Go and try the Rich Man’s Paella. It’s a fantastic addition to your bucket list ideas and make sure you request an al fresco table so you can sip wine amidst the twinkling outdoor lights. Then perhaps head indoors and enjoy dessert in the surrounds of the Parisian-style interiors.

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This is the perfect luxury restaurant to enjoy your Spanish supper, and a traditional one at that.

Lucy McGuire

Lucy is an award-winning journalist and founder of the travel blog The Travel Journo. When she's not hunting down the latest luxury spa or London food trend, or jetting off somewhere for a travel assignment, she's drinking lattes and tapping on her laptop from the cafes of South London. Her favourite travel destinations are New York & the Caribbean.

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