A wander through the streets off to the right of the Arc de Triomf is guaranteed to be interesting. Each street seems to have its own Chinese grocer, Chinese restaurants are many as are the Chinese spas (and/or houses of corporal pleasure). I recently tried one out – the former not the latter. My feet were dipped into a wooden bucket, the inside of which was sheathed in plastic, in water hot enough that my veins bulged alarmingly. While my feet cooked gently, a handsome muscled Chinese man in a tight red T-shirt pinched and kneaded my shoulders with such a force that I used breathing exercises to ride out the pain (my back was extremely relaxed 48 hours later.) The male attendants are the ones to go for, the women totter about in high heels and hot pants and half-heartedly rub a shoulder with one hand while furiously scrolling through their phone with the other. It was a weird but enjoyable hour that culminated with a foot massage, comfortably ensconced in a large leather armchair, in a room with 5 other people (mostly Chinese female customers but also some local men) for the bargain price of 25€
The area has been changing though. No doubt helped by attractive rents. It’s no longer just Chinese restaurants and Spanish all day bars with the generic sandwich board signs. Concepts are springing up. Like El Puesto, with its name printed on the chain mail curtain, a kitchen visible under a beer yellow textured glass, with strings of tomatoes hanging attractively and an industrial meat slicer in prominent view.
The offering is straight forward. Small plates of delicious things to pick at with a drink. A plate of cod with chives, tomato pulp, and olives (6.5€).
Shaved mojama with Marcona olives and a spiral of praline sauce (6.5€). A delectable Ensalada Rusa (4.5€) with enough salty briny bits to counteract the fatty mayonnaise. It’s plating of good things and the careful curating of a handful of cooked dishes.
El Puestu is a place that begs to be visited in a group. Before you’ve decided on dinner a lunch – a stopover where you wait for the band to collect. You quip “Hey, I know a cool place for a drink and some snacks. We can even sit outside – it’s on a pedestrian street.” On the way there you point to the weird massage parlor and regale your friends with the time you went and discovered it was just that and nothing more.
C/ Ribes 39
Fort Pienc Eixample