The top breakfast and brunch spots in Barcelona and Madrid

Both cities have adopted a trend that began in New York City and adapted it to fresh, local Mediterranean produce. And judging by the numbers, it looks like it has been a success.

Pancakes with whipped cream in the Meatpacking Bistro, in Barcelona’s Gràcia neighborhood.
Pancakes with whipped cream in the Meatpacking Bistro, in Barcelona’s Gràcia neighborhood.Alfredo Arias

Brunch is a blessing for those who enjoy a lazy Sunday morning every now and then.  This late breakfast/early lunch invention, the product of a New York City trend, is in Spain to stay. In fact it’s been so successful that some restaurants have extended their brunch menu from just Saturdays and Sundays to every day of the week.

Barcelona has always had its spot or two for brunch, whether it be at El Milk (Cignàs, 21) in the Gothic quarter with pancakes, bacon and maple syrup, to Flax & Kale (Tallers, 74), which serves up “flexiterian” brunches (not quite vegetarian, but almost).

Madrid isn't left in the dust though, with early-to-midday breakfast locales such as Pum Pum Café (Tribulete, 6), where you can get whole-grain avocado toast and other vegan meals in a remodeled butchers shop, or Motteau (San Pedro, 9), a small and modest establishment with a delicious lemon tart.

The following is a list of the most noteworthy brunch spots in both cities because of of their extensive menu, good  atmosphere and friendly staff.

Auto Rosellón

Ronit Stern and Rafa Campos discovered that an old garage where used car parts were once sold was the perfect location to launch their gastronomic project, based on a simple theme and local produce, which they used in recipes brought back from their trips around the world. Having originally worked in the textile industry, they both have a passion for food and adventure, which led them to open this wonderful space. What Ronit lacks in experience she makes up for with her passion and clear, creative ideas as head chef, while Rafa runs the business behind the scenes. Auto Rosellón’s success has driven its owners to take on new ventures, such as the restaurant Toto, and the Crustó bakery, each of which reflects the original establishment’s own philosophy: quality, local products, originality and friendly vibes. (Roselló, 182. Tel: 938 53 93 20;

Meatpacking Bistro

Eduard Puiggròs has been at the helm of this establishment for more than seven years and was one of the pioneers in popularizing the brunch experience in Barcelona. Enamored of New York and its lifestyle, he wanted to bring back the Big Apple’s atmosphere and translate it into the streets of his own Mediterranean, cosmopolitan city. Perhaps herein lies its success: combining classic brunch specialties such as eggs Benedict or Florentine and a Philly Cheese Steak with fresh juices and salads, all making use of fresh local ingredients. The restaurant has a nostalgic air to it, which is attributed to the artist Lázaro Rosa-Violán, and inspired by American establishments and bistros. Other than brunch, the Meatpacking Bistro (whose name references the trendy southeastern Manhattan district) offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as cocktails in the adjoining bar, which is also NYC inspired. (Travessera de Gràcia, 51-53. Tel: 932 00 89 08.

Foodies Barcelona

From journalist to culinary entrepreneur, Daniela Santos’ story resembles that of many others, a process of adaptation to a reality that sharpens our creativity and wakens our passions. This is how Foodies’ got started as a physical location in the heart of Poblenou, one of the trendy Barcelona neighborhoods, (up until recently it had been exclusively virtual), and business is booming. A multinational, young clientèle occupies the light wooden tables inside Daniela’s business, and she personally waits on customers, suggesting dishes from her renowned brunch menu, inspired by the classics, but with an original twist, such as eggs Benedict with guacamole instead of Hollandaise sauce. “We simply love to cook, eat good food and discover new flavors from right here and from around the world,” say the folks at Foodies. (Pujades, 225. Tel: 937 60 68 43.

Federal Café

Its enlightening location near Madrid’s cultural center, Centro Conde Duque, and the attentiveness of the staff stand out at this particular breakfast locale. Its success can be witnessed on any day of the week, say a Wednesday at midday, when people will be pressed like olives inside. This café is just one example of the growing movement of coffee shops that start serving at the crack of dawn. Its proprietor, Tommy Tang, an Australian who has lived in Spain for 15 years, says there wasn’t enough attention to detail in Madrid when it came to pouring a good cup of coffee. So in 2010 he opened the first Federal Café in Barcelona, and it rose to the top of hipster trends. With a new location in Madrid, locals can go and try some of their trademark dishes, like the baked free-range eggs with mushrooms, Gruyère cheese, spinach, and fresh toasted hazelnut cream. (Plaza Comendadoras, 9 Tel: 915 328 424

Panela & Co

Stepping into this restaurant is like visiting New York, Berlin, or Paris— it wears cosmopolitanism on its sleeve. Once you submerge yourself in the relaxing atmosphere on a “first come first served” basis, and try food bites such as the spinach, quinoa, chicken curry, goat cheese, caramelized peanuts, raisins, and balsamic vinegar wrap. (Lopez de Hoyos, 10 Tel: 915 63 60 69

Santa Eulalia Boulangerie

This factory of French-style baked goods is both elegant and creative, and contains the ruins of the old city wall within its own walls. Called one of the best bakeries in Madrid, it was started in 2015 by Ana Ramos and José Alberto Trabanco, and quickly became one of the most popular pastry shops in the city. Fans of all things sugary and sweet will not be able to resist grabbing a bite of their vanilla parfait with raspberry cream. (Espejo, 12. Tel: 911 38 58 75)

English version by Laura Rodríguez.

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