Visit Barcelona
TURISME I CIUTAT July-August 2018 # 26

"It is our duty to do things properly to show off our cuisine to foreigners"

The love of a job well done, attention to detail and an almost sickening devotion to pleasing and satisfying customers form part of the DNA of Paco Solé Parellada, member of a dynasty of renowned restauranteurs and owner of the restaurant 7 Portes, a gastronomic landmark in Barcelona and a place to discover the history of the city and the role of Catalan cuisine.


Since 1974, Solé Parellada, chair at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), industrial engineer and economist, has been an expert in innovation, which simply means "successful change".

At the 7 Portes 50% of clients are local and the other 50% are from abroad. Over its 182 years of history it has very illustrious clients: Josep Pla, Picasso, Ava Gardner, a very young Ernesto ?Che? Guevara, John Wayne, Woody Allen and Robert de Niro, among others. "We treat a tourist exactly the same as someone who is not a tourist; full stop", and he makes it clear that welcoming foreign visitors is no hindrance to good cooking, innovating and being committed to the country's gastronomy. The greatest proof of this is the high number of Barcelona residents who are loyal to its cuisine.

Solé Parellada emphasises that a good restaurant is more than just a list of dishes, but must have personality, storytelling, or a history to recount. As well as being an experience in itself, his establishment is a pioneer in offering activities: lyrical seasons, special brunches (connected to science or other themes), change of decor around ten times a year (e.g. for Christmas, the Mercè and Sant Joan festivities) and a menu with seven defined seasons adapting to this situation.

The eyes of the owner of the 7 Portes, who enjoys playing the piano in his establishment, light up when he talks about the endless attractions of Barcelona. "We have a city that is a sum of cities, where you can lose yourself and discover different vibes. It is a varied, transversal and changing city, a place you can never cross of your list of places to see in the world even if you have been ten times already because it has unbeatable wealth of experiences and variety". Solé Parellada also praises the selection of hotels and museums on offer, and the attraction of the port and beach.

"Gastronomy", he explains, "is at its peak attractiveness in history", with extremely fast changes and a difficult balance between how the client wants to eat, how they must be served and the right price. This balance must also be found when maintaining the local heritage and advocating for "zero kilometre" products. Catalan wines meanwhile have improved "extraordinarily" and now account for 50% of wine sales at the restaurant.

The 7 Portes, famous for its rice dishes and which attracts clients by word of mouth, is almost a gastronomic icon, just as Gaudí's Casa Milà is for architecture. Solé Parellada, who is 74 years old, believes that future challenges for the restaurant industry are improving training and professionality for all staff and finding a point of stability in the supply which is continuing to grow in the city.