BARCELONA Barcelona: The Local Insider

We talk to one of Barcelona’s style innovators, Maxi Zigart, about the city’s design scene and the best, secret spots to eat.


Barcelona: The Local Insider

We talk to one of Barcelona’s style innovators, Maxi Zigart, about the city’s design scene and the best, secret spots to eat.

best places to shop and eat

Follow the trail of Barcelona’s cool-hunters and design buffs and soon or later, it will lead you to Luzio, a nexus of Barcelona’s design scene.  One of the city’s first concept stores, opened in 2006 by Argentine Maximiliano Zigart and his Catalan wife Maria Jose Gomez, the store now spans 1000 metre2 of light-filled set in Sant Gervasi, one of the city’s chicest neighbourhoods. ‘When we began, it was tough, there wasn’t much like it in the city, but we wanted to share our vision, and in the end, it paid off with the business growing 25% a year in the past 3 years”.  With hand-curated pieces sourced from global travels, Luzio is like an Aladdin’s trove of treasures combining antique jewellery with contemporary design pieces, custom-made furniture with collector’s items and one-off pieces hand-crafted by artisans. Constantly on the edge of innovation, the entire shop transforms every 15 days, challenging its diverse range of clientele to see things in a new light and reimagine how different styles and origins can be combined in surprising, seductive and seriously instagrammable ways.  The pair also channel their interior design talents and unique perspective into private and commercial projects, including 5 star hotel  such as The Pulitzer in Paris and The Principal in Madrid, as well as a diverse catalogue of some of Europe’s hippest private homes. A die-hard foodie, Maxi (as he is known to friends) fulfilled a lifelong dream in July 2016, when he opened his own restaurant inside Luzio.  A Brooklyn-inspired Gastro-Bar, Iluzione serves traditional Italian food in an open-minded way; “We source our pastrami from Poland. I had to do some serious research before we opened, which led me to eat pastrami all over New York. The one we serve is the most similar to the one in Katz, you know, where Sally has the orgasm in when Harry met Sally?!” One of the most connected innovators in town, Maxi shares his take on Barcelona’s design culture, how the city is changing and the best places to eat in Barcelona.

What do you find inspiring about Barcelona from a design perspective?

From the art to the buildings, the city is so intricately connected with design in a way that other cities aren’t. Take the architecture, take Gaudi, so many of the buildings were experiments, so the style here is very eclectic. Being stylish in Barcelona is all about individuality, everyone likes to be original from one another, so it’s about how to stand out, how to collect items over the years and mix them together.  Besides the football club, there are no designer brands here, Barcelona is much more about the artisan culture.  You won’t find locals wearing Ralph Lauren, what they care about is their own style and how they can combine things in a unique and innovative way.

How have you seen Barcelona evolve since you first arrived?

It has evolved a lot.  It used to be quite a tough city as the locals can be quite closed when it comes to foreigners, but when someone opens their home to you, it’s totally real. Now people from all over the world are coming to live here, so it’s opening up. The other thing is the food scene: it used to be 99% Spanish food, but now you have great food from Mexico, Korea, Japan…. You get the same diversity as London but the quality is much better.  I feel bad to say it as an Argentine, but the quality of meat you get is ten times better than Buenos Aires!

What do you love most about living here?

The food is one of the top things, then there is the weather and the location, the fact you have both amazing beaches and mountains nearby, and finally the people. They are starting to open up and trust more, and that is changing the atmosphere here.  

Maxi Zigart’s Insider Take On…

Where to eat in Barcelona.

1. Sense Pressa

Make sure you ask the waiter for the specials at this traditional Catalan spot, which combines beautiful home-cooked food with an intimate atmosphere of just 8 tables.  It’s worth booking ahead.  

Carrer d’Enric Granados, 96, 08008

+34 932 18 15 44

2. Cal Siscu

Old-fashioned, relaxed and full of charm, this local spot specialises in vermouth and fantastic fish dishes at great value prices.

Carrer Dr. Martí i Julià, 84, 08903

+34 934 40 72 58

3. Disfrutar

Set in chic Eixample, Disfrutar is a foodie mecca, with innovative Mediterranean dishes expertly crafted by 3 El Bulli Alumni that delight the senses with their creativity.  Be sure to book a few weeks in advance and opt for the tasting menu.

Carrer de Villarroel, 163, 08036

+34 933 48 68 96

4. BarMut

Expect stylish seafood (sea-urchins and lobster scrambled eggs) at this chic bar-restaurant that straddles a corner in the hippie-chic neighborhood of Gracia. The charming service and soft lighting make it a great spot for a date.

Carrer de Pau Claris, 192

+34 932 17 43 38

5. D’Giorgio – Rubi

Serious Italian-style pizza cooked in the wood-fire oven are the speciality at this cozy neighborhood spot, which locals claim rivals Naples best.

Av. de l’Estatut, 229, 08191 Rubí

+34 936 99 62 31

6. Cheriff

Don’t be fooled by the unassuming exterior of this laid-back spot close to the Port, Cheriff serves up some of the best paella in town, along with a range of super fresh seafood. It’s not the cheapest option, but portions are big enough to share.

Carrer de Ginebra, 15

+34 933 19 69 84

7. Le Petit Paris

Tucked away on a back-street, this wonderful tapas spot something of a local secret, and a great spot for both lunch, dinner and snacks at reasonable prices.

Carrer de Calàbria, 136

8. Parco

Set at the top of Paseo de Gracia, this happening Japanese-fusion restaurant is a favourite of foodies looking for an innovative take on Japanese classics.  Trust the waiter to guide you through the  speciality sashimis.

Passeig de Gràcia, 119

+34 932 38 78 22

9. Koy Shunka

You can watch the masters at work while sat at the sushi bar at this world-class Japanese dining spot.  The sophisticated setting and mind-blowing flavours don’t come cheap, but the experience is well worth it.

Carrer d’en Copons, 7, 08002

+34 934 12 79 39

10. Piccola Cuccina Italiana

Nestled in the mountains between Barcelona and St. Cugat, this tiny-hole-in-the-wall spot is a serious find, specialising in beautiful prepared, fresh Italian food served in characteristic abundance by the charming Napolitan owners. Don’t miss the tasting menu.

Carretera de Vallvidrera A Sant Cugat, 08198

+34 628 63 88 78