Oooh, Ciutat Comtal.😍 Truly, a place that never disappoints. (Jennie’s visit here.) And while we’re on the subject of food in Barcelona, here’s another must-try. This time, for some great paella!


Easily reached by regular bus or on the red route of the city’s Hop-on/Hop-off bus (read our post on the HoHo here), Set Portes – or Siete Puertas – is a Barcelona institution.

Welcoming diners for over 180 years. / Photo credit: 7 Portes

Proudly serving traditional Catalán cuisine since 1836 – Picasso was known to have owed them for several cups of coffee when he was an art student – the restaurant is located slightly off the El Born district closer to the Barceloneta area.

Even then, dining would sometimes extend outside onto the building’s famous arcade. / Photo credit: 7 Portes

Named after the seven doors through which the public could enter the building it continues to occupy to this day (an 8th door was for the service staff and deliveries), its beautiful arcades were patterned after those of the buildings along the Rue de Rivoli in Paris (where the popular café, Angelina, is located).

Proven to be a reliable place for any traveller to find delicious paella (we don’t ask for very much), a reservation in Set Portes is always wise. But if you have to wait in line for a table, it certainly helps that the view outside is easy on the eye.

Fine dining at the arcade facing the wide avenue of Passeig d’Isabel II during special holidays. / Photo credit: 7 Portes

About The Paella

Set Portes’s most popular take on this quintessential Spanish rice dish is the Paella Parellada, named after the person who authored the recipe. Also referred to as “rich man’s paella”, it’s jam-packed with all kinds of both seafood and meat, including the ingredient it’s most associated with – lobster!

The restaurant’s most popular dish, Paella Parellada. / Photo credit: 7 Portes

Now the other dish we enjoyed here was actually off the menu during a prior visit with family. We asked if they served it and, seeing how obviously disappointed we were when told that they didn’t, the service staff asked the chef if he could do something about it. Luckily, he obliged!

The dish was Fideuà Negra. Or black noodles cooked in squid ink, with squid or cuttlefish, then served with aïoli.

When the elusive Fideuà Negra isn’t possible, the Paella Negre is just as good. / Photo credit: 7 Portes

On a succeeding visit with our Spain group, however (our trip with the girls here and here), we weren’t so lucky as we had gotten to the restaurant pretty late for lunch – even by Spanish standards. And by which time, the chef had already left the restaurant and they could no longer prepare it for us. But the Paella Parellada was excellent, as usual.

Their table wine, desserts, and their coffee were all pretty good, too.

Set Portes’s Crema Catalana was simply to-die-for!

And curiously enough, instead of numbers, tables were identified by the names of famous clients who have dined there. The table Jennie and I shared with the girls was supposedly once dined at by Julio Iglesias, who we Filipinos somehow still feel a connection to as he was once married to a Filipina (yes, we are a pretty clannish bunch), who happens to be the mother of his three oldest children, including Enrique.

Look who once ate at our table?!

As is usually a good indication, Set Portes was recommended by locals. And given its popularity among tourists as well, go early if you don’t have a reservation. Just keep in mind that they open at 1pm for lunch.

Of course, service can’t possibly be perfect all the time, at least based on a few customer reviews I’ve read on the restaurant. But personally, we hadn’t encountered any problem with the staff.

Nothing but a pleasant dining experience for us each time. / Photo credit:

On the contrary. In fact, they were always helpful in explaining the dishes to us and recommending the best proportions so we wouldn’t order too much food.

But more importantly, the food has been consistently good on every visit.

So do give these personal favourites in Barcelona a try. And as they say in Catalán, Bon profit!

Photo credit: 7 Portes

Set Portes is on the Pla de Palau bus stop. For bookings and for more info, visit