A homage to 10 classic Spanish bars and restaurants that have closed down due to the pandemic

Around 85,000 bars and restaurants across Spain have had to close permanently due to crippling Covid restrictions. Here we pay tribute to some of the most loved Spanish bars and restaurants that locals and foreigners will miss, from San Sebastián to Sevilla.

Senyor Parellada
Senyor Parellada

Zalacaín, Madrid

One of the most elegant and luxurious restaurants in Madrid, Zalacaín was the first restaurant in Spain to be awarded the prestigious three Michelin Stars. It earned its stars in 1987, but had been going for almost 50 years, before it was forced to close its doors. Dishes that it became famous for included quail egg with smoked salmon and caviar; ravioli stuffed with mushrooms, truffle and foie gras; and wild sea bass with pink peppercorn sauce. Over the years Zalacaín had welcomed everyone from Spanish politicians to celebrities. 

Restaurante Zalacaín in Madrid

Bar Manolo, Sevilla

Located on the Plaza Alfalfa, one of the most popular squares in Seville’s historic centre, Café Manolo had been a favourite on the Seville tapas scene for the past 85 years. Manager Felix Jímínez, who had worked there since 1979, was just 15 years old when he started. They were loved for their pavías (battered fish) and ensaladilla rusa (a salad of avocado, tuna belly and tomatoes). Upon closing, Jímínez told OK Diario “It’s a nightmare and many more will follow”.

Ensaladilla rusa at Bar Manolo. Image: Metukkalihis / WikiCommons

Cal Pinxo, Barcelona

One of the most historic bars in Barcelona’s old fisherman’s quarter of Barceloneta, Cal Pinxo offered spectacular views over the city’s marina and multi-million euro superyachts. During its 60 years of history, the restaurant had been owned by the same family and was passed down through five generations. From humble beginnings as a chiringuito, which was knocked down in the 90s, it went on to become a swanky spot loved by locals and tourists alike. The restaurant was famed for its rice dishes, paellas and fideuás (similar to paellas but made with short noodles instead of rice).

Fideau from Cal Pinxo

Hontanares, Madrid

Bar, café and bakery, Hontanares was one of Madrid’s most well-known establishments. It had been a city staple on the scene since 1966. Since its opening, the café hadn’t been shut a single day, until the pandemic stopped it at the end of 2020. Visited by an average of 1,600 people per day, Hontanares was well-liked because of its simple offerings: pastries and toasts for breakfasts; sandwiches, burgers and tapas for lunch; dinners and then cocktails in the evenings.

Cafetería Hontanares in Madrid. Image: Eric Milet / Flickr

Taberna Basaras, Bilbao

The oldest bar in Bilbao’s Casco Viejo, the tiny Taberna Basaras was a Basque city favourite for over 80 years. It was known for its delicious salted anchovies, juicy tortillas de patata (potato omelettes), croquetas de bacalao (cod croquettes) and chorizo a la sidra (chorizo in cider) and was frequented by the city’s chefs, just as much as it was the public. Its regulars included everyone, from local artists to famous Basque singers, and it will surely be missed.

Anchovies. Image: Luis Fernando Talavera / Pixabay

Senyor Parellada, Barcelona

One of Barcelona’s most emblematic restaurants, Senyor Parellada was part of the Hotel Banys Orientals in the Born district of the city. It was opened by Ramon Parellada in 1983 and has been delighting locals and tourists with its quirky art-filled interiors, traditional Catalan cuisine and delicious paellas for the past 38 years. Parellada himself is from one of Barcelona’s great food families. His grandfather took over one of Barcelona’s oldest restaurants – 7 Ports and his daughter works at the well-known Fonda Europa de Granollers restaurant, founded in 1771. This is also where Parellada grew up and learned his skills in the kitchen. 

Senyor Parellada, Barcelona. Image: Senyor Parellada

Ferpal, Madrid

A large deli with counters full of cheese and legs of ham, strung up from the ceiling, Ferpal was a popular fixture in Madrid for the past 50 years. Locals would come to stock up on cold cuts, cheeses and canned goods, then stop at the little bar for a homemade sandwich and a chat before continuing with their shopping.

Cheese counter. Image: meineresterampe /Pixabay

A Fuego Negro, San Sebastián

A Fuego Negro may have not have been open as long as some of these other restaurants, but certainly made a name for itself in the last 15 years as one of San Sebastian’s most famous pintxos bars. In a short time, it became one of the masters of modern Basque cooking. Its pintxo offerings included bread topped with tomato purée, mussels and béchamel sauce and a dessert pintxo of frozen chocolate and corn. On its website, the owners shared their sadness of being forced to close. “We are happy with our contribution to gastronomy, pintxos culture, and thank Donostia for welcoming us for the last 15 years” they added.

Offerings at A Fuego Negro. Image: Kent Wang / Flickr

Casa Eme, Seville

The historic Casa Eme is another of Seville’s much-loved bars that was forced to close. Decorated with brightly-coloured tiles, religious icons and photos of Seville’s Semana Santa, it was a typical Andalusian bar where dishes were written up in chalk each day on the blackboard and orders were shouted into a microphone when they were ready. In 2019, it won the Premio GURMÉ for the ‘Best Traditional Restaurant’. Run by the friendly Emeterio Serrano, better known as Eme, for the past 30 years it served up tasty tapas dishes such as fried almonds, solomillo al whisky (sirloin in whisky sauce), grilled seafood and snails. 

Fried almonds from Casa Eme. Image: Juan Emilio Prades Bel / WikiCommons

Diagonal Can Soteras, Barcelona

A traditional Catalan restaurant, Can Soteras, as it was more commonly known, was in business for over a century until Covid forced it to close down. Founded in 1915 by Jaume Soteras, it began as a place where drivers and transporters could rest their animals and get something to eat before continuing on their journey. In 1930, the old inn was transformed into the Diagonal Can Soteras restaurant which was popular with families going out for celebratory meals. One of its house specialities were the snails, which have been a favourite on the menu for the past 30 years. 

Can Soteras, Barcelona. Image: joan ggk/ Flickr 

Member comments

  1. Don’t waste time and resources into this drinking stuff. Luke 12 and 14 forsake everything, and everyone, and your life 4 Me.
    Matthew 5-7 work for Me not money and I will give you food and clothing.
    Mark 16 share the Truth to all.
    John 17 work together in love.
    Don’t take the Mark of the Beast; right hand or forehead, only way to buy or sell (not a mask or vaccine, but could be a quantum implant or tattoo thing). Revelation 13+14.
    USA maybe the Babylon, to be destroyed with fire in one hour. Revelation 17+18.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Does Spain have a dog poo problem?

Many foreigners in Spain complain that the streets are full of dog faeces, but is that actually true and what, if anything, is being done to address it?

Does Spain have a dog poo problem?

Spain is a nation of dog lovers.

According to the country’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), 40 percent of Spanish households have a dog.

In fact, believe it or not, the Spanish have more dogs than they do children.

While there are a little over 6 million children under the age of 14 in Spain, there are over 7 million registered dogs in the country. 

But one bugbear of many foreigners in Spain is that there’s often a lot of dog mess in the streets, squares and parks.

The latest estimates suggest it’s as much as 675,000 tonnes of doodoo that has to be cleaned up every year in Spain.

Many dog owners in Spain carry around a bottle of water mixed with detergent or vinegar to clean up their dog’s urine and small plastic bags to pick up number twos.

And yet, many owners seem to either turn a blind eye to their pooches’ poo or somehow miss that their pets have just pooed, judging by the frequency with which dog sh*t smears Spanish pavements. 

So how true is it that Spain has a dog poo problem? Is there actually more dog mess in Spain than in other countries, and if not, why does it seem that way?

One contextual factor worth considering when understanding the quantity of caca in Spain’s calles is how Spaniards themselves actually live.

When one remembers that Spaniards mostly live in apartments without their own gardens, it becomes less surprising that it feels as though there’s a lot of dog mess in the streets. Whereas around 87 percent of households in Britain have a garden, the number in Spain is below 30 percent.

Simply put, a nation of dog lovers without gardens could mean more mess in the streets. 

Whereas Britons often just let their dogs out into their garden to do their business, or when they can’t be bothered to take them for a walk even, Spaniards have to take them out into the street, unless they’re okay with their pooches soiling their homes. 

There aren’t many dog-friendly beaches in Spain, and the fact that on those that do exist, some owners don’t clean up their dogs’ mess, doesn’t strengthen the case for more ‘playas para perros‘ to be added. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / STR / AFP)

Doggy dirt left in the streets is most certainly not a Spain-specific problem either, but rather an urban one found around the world.

In recent years, there have been complaints about the sheer abundance of canine faecal matter left in public spaces in Paris, Naples, Rome, Jerusalem, Glasgow, Toronto, London, San Francisco and so on.

READ ALSO: Why do some Spanish homes have bottles of water outside their door?

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a worldwide study to shed light on which cities and countries have the biggest ‘poo-blem’, with the available investigations mainly centred on individual nations, such as this one by Protect my Paws in the US and UK

And while it may be more noticeable in Spain than in some countries, it doesn’t mean the Spanish are doing nothing about it.

In fact, Barcelona has been named the third best city in Europe for dealing with the problem, according to a study by pet brand

Although Barcelona’s score of 53/80 was significantly lower than many British cities (Newcastle scored 68/80 and Manchester 66/80, for example) its hefty fines of 1,500 for dog owners caught not cleaning up after their canine friends might be a reason. 

And some parts of Spain take it even more seriously than that.

In many Spanish regions doggy databases have been created to catch the culprits. Over 35 Spanish municipalities require dog owners to register their pets’ saliva or blood sample on a genetic database so they can be traced and fined, if necessary. 

In Madrid, you are twice as likely to come across someone walking a dog than with a baby’s stroller. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

This DNA trick started earlier in Spain than in many other countries; the town of Brunete outside of Madrid kicked off the trend in 2013 by mailing the ‘forgotten’ poo to neglectful owners’ addresses. Some municipalities have also hired detectives to catch wrongdoers.

So it’s not as if dog poo doesn’t bother Spaniards, with a 2021 survey by consumer watchdog OCU finding that it’s the type of dirt or litter found in the streets than bothers most people.

READ ALSO: Clean or dirty? How does your city rank on Spain’s cleanliness scale? 

It’s therefore not a part of Spanish culture not to clean up after dogs, but rather a combination of Spain’s propensity for outdoor and urban living, the sheer number of dogs, and of course the lack of civic duty on the part of a select few. Every country has them. 

On a final note, not all dog owners in Spain who don’t clean up after their pooches can be blamed for doing it deliberately, but it’s certainly true that looking at one’s phone rather than interacting with your dog, or walking with your dog off the leash (also illegal except for in designated areas) isn’t going to help you spot when your pooch has done its business.

Article by Conor Faulkner and Alex Dunham