I want to share a secret with you: La Xampanyeria.
Can Paixano is my favourite eating spot in Barcelona. It’s not just my favourite because it sits on a tiny side street called Reina Cristina, which literally translates as Queen Cristina… but I’d be lying if that wasn’t part of it.
My mum is from Barcelona so, although I was brought up in England, I grew up around Catalan culture and I visit at least once every two months if I can.
When I do, I always ask to come here.
Can Paixano is known as La Xampanyeria (La Champaneria in Spanish, the Champagne place in English) and is hidden in a street by the port.
There’s not much else around it – apart from homes and slightly dodgy looking shops – but when you get there it will inevitably be full.
It has been there for decades and is hugely popular with the locals. Its appeal is low prices and authentic, no frills cava and tapas – a hard find in the centre of Barcelona these days.
When you find your way to Can Paixano’s wooden door, marked by a striking brass handle, you will have to fight your way in.
Getting a seat/table is not the custom here, instead you are sardines in a bustling room full of cava bottles, Jamon on hooks, smells of cooking and the cheerful bustles of both customers and chefs alike.
One of the first times I came here, I got really claustrophobic. If you’re not into standing up and nudging people with your elbows, it is not for you. But if you embrace the vibrant and busy nature of the place, you’ll love it.
There can be a bit of hostility towards tourists, my half-Spanish-self included, but proving yourself to be confident and keen to taste the local food will stead you well with the chefs and other locals there.
So once you’ve pushed to the bar, order some DELICIOUS cava. It has been serving its Berenguer Ramon Cava since 1969 when it opened. It’s around five euros for a bottle, one euro a glass – I can’t really remember exactly as they just keep totting you up but I’m always amazed at how reasonable it is.
And when you’re hungry, might I recommend a bocadillo? Can Paixano does serve simple, scrummy tapas but if you want to be truly Catalan, you want to order their sandwiches.
Yes, I usually eat two…
You can have whatever you like in them – ham, sausage, pork – but the meat is all fresh, cooked literally before your eyes and they only cost around 3 euros!
If you’re travelling to Barcelona, please give this bar a go. Don’t expect any airs, but if you want a true taste of Catalonia, here is the place.