c/de la junta de comerc
(on the corner of c/Hospital)
In the middle of El Raval, home to Barcelona’s low life and chubby hookers, immigrants and foreign students Mendizabel is a kiosk-come-café that serves a few – not an abundance – of things for vegetarians and even a few fresh fruit and vegetable juices that vegans and raw vegans can enjoy. Hoorah!
It’s not always easy to get proper fresh pressed juices in Spain other than orange juice, which is the juice I most try to avoid due to its acidity. So a place that lets you choose from a few different fruits is a bit of a find. La Boqueria – just around the corner from Mendizabel serves juices but I’m not entirely convinced that they haven’t been ‘embellished’ with sugar – a strange habit the Spanish have of augmenting already naturally sweet drinks to make them unhealthier and so that they are so sweet that your eyes begin to caramelize whilst you are drinking them.
Mendizabel is an outdoor cafe with a bunch of colourful chairs and tables hidden beneath broad parasols and trees on a small placa just across the street. The back wall of the kiosk is covered with orange, blue, white and yellow tiles and the shelves are stacked with fresh fruit that courageously awaits its death by powerful juicer.
Juices (sucs naturals) cost €3 for a single type of fruit, €3.30 for two types of fruit and €3.50 for three types. The range of fruit isn’t massive, but includes carrot, orange, strawberry, pineapple, and mango. It’s no Liquiteria (NYC) but then NYC can’t boast a mild climate.
Also vegetarian friendly are the nachos for €4 and tortilla verduras (vegetable Spanish omelette) for €3. They serve boccadillos (sandwiches) with the following courageous (by Spanish standards) fillings for vegetarians: mozzarella, mango and avocado – €3.90 and feta and avocado – €3.80.
You can swill your sandwich down with a dirty beer, teas, coffees and the usual drinks.
The staff here are a touch abrupt, like they’ve put on slightly uncomfortable socks that day or have just committed some kind of minor bank job and are feeling anxious, but once you’ve placed your order, you can go and relax in the placa and soak up the unique ambience of El Raval – one of Barcelona’s most interesting districts. It’s a great spot for people watching, reading a few chapters of your current book, or deleting unwanted messages from your iphone –if that’s yer thing, if you’re unable to sit back and relax without some form of electronic gadget between your fingers.
Look out for pick-pockets all over Barcelona – but in El Raval in particular. Keep valuables hidden and bags and cameras on your lap. There’s nothing more unremittingly tiresome than spending two hours at the nearest La Policia filling in forms you don’t understand, just so you can claim on your insurance.
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