Hungry in a Bookstore in Barcelona

posted in: Destinations, Spain | 0


I wanted to go somewhere in Barcelona where I could read books all day and take advantage of free wifi. Mostly I wanted to be someplace where I could people watch and read tourist guides behind a big art book. I was pointed to the bookstore/cafe La Central.

La Central is a bookstore chain with three locations in Barcelona. The location on carrer mallorca boasts two floors and an outdoor terrace filled with greenery. Books lines the lacquered black shelves, which are organized into categories like art, comics, poetry, history, infantil, etc. English books sit alongside Spanish ones, making it easy for a gal like me to plop down and read some Bukowski poetry.

The bookstore has a cafe upstairs that serves up pastries, sandwiches, juices, and coffee. People come here to chat politics with one another, read newspapers, and discuss group projects. Paint penned art covers two walls, showing men and women reading and passing books to one another.

For breakfast, the cafe offers a spanish omelet, made of a thick slice of egg, cubed potatoes, basil, chickpeas, and mushrooms. Holy hell is it divine. It comes with two slices of bread rubbed with olive oil, tomato skin, and sea salt. Bread rubbed with tomato and olive oil is a standard Catalan snack, often to be eaten in between breakfast and lunch or as an appetizer.


A meal at La Central's cafe
A meal at La Central’s cafe


This coffee right now. My god. I had almost forgotten what good coffee tastes like. I like my coffee to basically milk with a tiny bit of espresso. This one is extra frothy, with so much milk. I’m not a sophisticated coffee drinker in the least and can’t tell caribbean beans from kona ones, but I’ve never enjoyed coffee at Starbucks in the States (I do dig their hot chocolate though) and didn’t like the flavor until I had a flat white in Melbourne, which this Barcelona coffee is strongly reminiscent of. So it gets my non-expert approval.

My coffee + breakfast combo was only 6 euros and because I’ve got no euros at the moment I gotta order something else. My friend Pau briefed me on how paying for items less than 10 euros with a credit card is considered rude in Spain. I wonder if it would be weird to get the same thing again. This clearly is not a breakfast establishment where people go to nom, but I am so hungry and ready to devour more yummy tomato and olive oil bread.

I read an item on the menu called cafe i pasta and took that to mean coffee with spaghetti, and was amazed to see it was 4 euros. The lady behind the counter kind of shook her head at me like no no no, not a pasta it’s a pastry like from the bakery. Whoops. Note to self: pasta does not mean pasta but pastry.

I’m plopped down in the corner with this huge photo book called Paloma Wool and between coffee sips I’m also navigating through a Barcelona architecture pocket guide. Did you know that the architect Antoni Gaudi died because he was hit by a bus on his way to the Sagrada Familia?

I’m learning new things everyday.


Photo from art book Paloma Wool
Photo from art book Paloma Wool


For more information on La Central, go to

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