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Exploring Barcelona’s sustainable food scene

Exploring Barcelona’s sustainable food scene
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Barcelona's new eco-friendly restaurants offering green alternatives to traditional tapas. Follow our guide:

Flax y Kale

Flax y Kale is only four years old but considered the most successful restaurant from the Teresa Carles group. It has quickly established itself as a ‘place to be’ on the Barcelona healthy and ecological dining scene. Two Flax y Kale restaurants have now opened in the city; both reference for healthy flexitarian cuisine. The menu is mostly vegetarian (80%) and include a few fish options. The goal is simple : offer the healthiest meals possible, made with organic ingredients sourced locally as much as possible.

Nutritionists were hired to check the nutritional value of all the dishes. Reading through the menu, you can easily find all the indications of whether what you are going to order is a vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten free. But what really strikes you when entering the space is the cosy and luminous atmosphere : huge large windows, many plants, long communal tables, colourful flowery fabrics… There is also a little urban garden on the top level (perfect to get the freshest ingredients possible right there in your plate !)

Address: Carrer dels Tallers, 74b, 08001 Barcelona | Website

2Y - Cocina Macrobiótica y energética

This restaurant, which carefully applies the principles of macrobiotic cooking, is unique in Barcelona. Macrobiotic cooking is a food philosophy from Japan which promotes a balance and healthy way of eating, revolving around a range of whole foods that are energetically balanced between yin and yang (hence the chosen name of 2Y). “You won’t find the macrobiotic vegan cooking we offer anywhere else in Barcelona,” explains restaurant owner Eduard Sarra.

The restaurant goes a long way to promote a form of therapeutic cooking that is rigorously prepared in the kitchens, while respecting principles of sustainability and respect for the environment. And it starts with the choice of products. All the ingredients are organic, seasonal and sourced locally.

To avoid food waste and make sure only the freshest ingredients land in the clients’ plates, the restaurant has chosen to not have a set menu. “We come up with a new food offering everyday, depending on the seasonal products we have bought. The result will often be a salad, a soup and a dish including at least a cereal and a protein. People can get everything on this menu or choose only parts of it,” Sarra explains.

A strict process is also implemented for the treatment of water which is used in drinks, teas and soups. Here, water is filtered a number of times, then minerals are added to reach the best (therapeutic) quality, and served in a sustainable container (read: not plastic).

The restaurant uses 100% recycled napkins and tablecloths as well as recycled trays and cutlery made from corn starch. It also serves the take away meals in recycled bags and boxes made from sugarcane pulp.

Address: Passatge Batlló 4 08036 Barcelona | Website

Väcka

Väcka means “awakening” in Swedish, and for founder Ana Luz Sanz and Maxime Boniface it makes all the sense in the world. This is a place where people come to make their first steps into a greener lifestyle. Opened in 2015, Väcka came as a major change in the couple’s life. Living in Argentina and making documentaries led them to question their eating habits.

“At one point, we decided to launch a restaurant project to serve healthy vegan food, respectful of the environment, but in a fun, light way. This was a challenge, since people usually don’t understand that these food choices don’t necessarily have to be dull or restrictive, but that there is actually a whole new world to explore and experiment with, one where everyone can be satisfied with their meal,” Sanz points out. Both Sanz and Boniface loved Barcelona and decided to try the experience there.

All the products you’ll eat at Vacka are 100% of vegetable origin and the meals are made from scratch in the restaurant’s kitchens. “We make sure to use only fresh raw materials, seasonal and organic products. We also try to get to know all our suppliers because we believe in a collaborative and network economy,” Sanz adds.

The restaurant focuses on fermented ingredients for health and sustainability reasons. All the dishes that are served always comprise at least one fermented ingredient. “Controlled fermentation is a process that causes the bacteria and yeast found in food to generate substances that make these foods more nutritionally rich, better for the health as well as enhancing their flavours. Fermenting our ingredients is not only sustainable since it prolongs the duration of food, but it is also a way to promote cultural biodiversity and the living organisms that will grow there,” Sanz adds.

Other measures include not using plastic in any of the packages and collaborating with students who have a use for the organic waste made by the restaurant and seek to collect this waste.

Address: Carrer de Sèneca, 4, 08006 Barcelona | Website

Xavier Pellicer - El Menjador

For fancy, sophisticated dining, head to Xavier Pellicer or El Menjador, two restaurant by Chef Pellicier, which opened in 2018. Pellicer’s approach is to focus on biodynamics: a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, rooted in the work of philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner.

Seasonal vegetables and organic local products take centre stage on the menu. “We spend a lot of time meeting with our producers and building relationships with them, going to see how they work on the ground,” Pellicier describes. In the kitchen, there is only one fundamental principle to follow when cooking and designing the menus : the absolute respect for the ingredients he uses, which means limiting all kinds of food waste.

In the smaller space El Menjador, guests can choose between three tasting menu options: vegan, vegetarian and omnivore. All feature 9 dishes only made with seasonal ingredients and inspired by nature.

Address: Carrer de Provença, 310, 08037 Barcelona | Website

Espai Mescladís

Mescladis was created 15 years ago, at a time when Barcelona was undergoing a time of profound social changes and dealing with an influx of refugees. This is a project based in the field of solidarity economy, as the idea is to train migrants and refugees as waiters or cooks. People can then come enjoy a nice meal prepared by the students at the school-restaurant space Espai Mescladís.

“About 80 students each year are trained, of which 30% end up obtaining work”, explains Martín Habiague, founder of the project. Workshops and community events, often linked to cooking, are also organized in the neighbourhood to bring together all the generations, and to promote dialogue between communities as well as cultural diversity. Beyond this commitment to solidarity and support to the migrant community, sustainability is also understood here in terms of a commitment to respect the environment as all the products are bought locally in rural and ecological cooperatives.

Address: Carrer dels Carders, 35, 08003 Barcelona | Website

Words: Léa Surugue