Reporting on my seriously epic, 9-day Barcelona trip with several friends (sometimes 5 of us, sometimes 7, sometimes 8) almost two weeks ago. Two day trips - one to Montserrat, and one to Girona.
Food was spectacular, throughout. Only bad meal was actually a late-night snack at some roof-top hotel bar in our neighborhood (we stayed at an apt. in the Eixample), which offered an Octoberfest menu -bleaaagh. Our fault - tipsy and should have known better.
First, the tapas bars/restaurants (or places we actually had food), and second, bars we visited (which all had food but we didn’t eat at):
We went here because two of our group are cycling enthusiasts. As our first meal of the trip, it was very good, straightforward tapas - just what I wanted. Especially loved the juicy tortilla de patata and the croquetas de bacalao. Of course, i always love navajas, whether a la plancha, or here, as conservas.
Rooftop Bar of nameless hotel
don’t remember name, all the Octoberfest food sucked, except for my favorite, pan con tomate…
We went in for “a snack” and stayed through dinner. Wonderful service, attention, extraordinary wines (we had two Priorats) and lovely food. standouts: a halibut crudo in a cucumber broth, foie under a salad. (sorry, pics are out of order.)
Botega Cala del Vermut
we just happened to pass this on our way to the Boqueria, stopped in for some of their house-made vermut and a couple snacks. Will make this a regular stop when I’m back.
El Quim is a favorite from my last time here, in 2014, and it did not disappoint. We ordered up a storm. Highlight was EVERYFUCKING THING. Plus, you get to watch a bunch of cute young hunks cooking. (ETA - Of course, you should eat EVERYTHING at the Boqueria itself!)
What can I say - this is a jewel of a place, and if you go to Barcelona, you must go. We went twice on this trip! Incredibly friendly service, outstanding food, all of it, and cheap-as-hell wonderful house cava and vermut. Our favorites were… oh, again, all of it: the pan con tomate that comes free with a lot of orders, the ous ferat (a marvelous mixture of buttery mashed potatoes and chorizo with an egg mixed in right in front of you - swoony; the snails cooked in a beef bourguignon-type stew (!!!), the absolute dreamy plate of lomo iberico and padron peppers - like the best steak you’ve ever had, you can’t even tell it’s pork, but it is, and it’s the best pork I’ve ever had. We had three orders of it. Also, roasted potatoes topped with chorizo and alioli - so good. and the anchovies and the pulpo (two ways) and stuffed cherry peppers! Oh! and a transcendent dish of very simple garbanzos, spinach and pine nuts - actually bland but so earthy, I couldn’t stop eating it. I’ve made this dish before at home, but always with cumin and paprika and chorizo… not the same at all. I can’t rhapsodize about Xampanyet enough. You must go.
Elsa y Fred
had breakfast before trying to get into the Picasso Museum (sold out). Wonderful eggs and chorizo.
We tried a paella and a fideua, both with mixed shellfish, both delicious (although no socarrat on the paella), but the stand-out for me was this dish of hongos (shrooms), jamon and huevos. The eggs here are just beautiful, and soooo… eggy-tasting.
Restaurant at Montserrat
We went to Montserrat for the day and did some light hiking on the trails, and then went down to the buffet restaurant/cafeteria/charcuteria store and just bought a bunch of bread, cheese, butifarra, charcuteria, and mini bottles of rose. A perfect lunch.
We were in Barcelona for my GF’s 50th bday, so this was her bday dinner, prix fixe with 10 or 11 courses, plus desserts and chocolate treats after. All wonderfully executed, very friendly, attentive service. Standout was the “low temperature egg with parmesan foam and breadcrumbs.” If I’d have fit in that egg I would have bathed in the stuff. Scallop was amazing too.
Unknown bakery in our neighborhood (I didn’t go to get these):
Pastries for bfast…
Fundacio Joan Miro (museum restaurant)
Although it looks like one cafeteria, you can sit on the patio and either eat at the restaurant or just the “diner” where they serve sandwiches. We went for the restaurant and had a lovely lunch. My favorite was this almost causa-like lemony potato concoction stuffed with crab - delish! but the eggplant roll-ups were divine as well. and the best couscous I think I’ve ever had!
Bodega La Tinaja
So, at this point, I got food poisoning. Another GF in the group did too (and much worse than I, poor thing), but hours later, and we’re really not sure what did us in, since we all ate all the same stuff all of the time - we shared everything. But at the time of this dinner - a restaurant I really wanted to go back to, having loved it in 2014 - I could barely look at the food. I managed to choke down a piece of their DIY pan con tomate and a glass of wine. I’ve wept over the pictures since, as my friends said it was all really good. However, service was absolutely lousy and unfriendly. Bummer. But I’d still go back, because it wasn’t that way the first time I went.
Mercat de La Concepció
After visiting the Sagrada Familia the next morning (i was 99% recovered by around 1:00 p.m. - I rallied!) we decided to buy a bunch of goodies and eat in that night. Tortilla de patata was my favorite, but also the butifarra. And we made our own pan con tomate. And we found the same cheese that we bought at Montserrat!
Before we went into Parc Guell, we were all hangry and found this little neighborhood cafe that served up wonderfully homey dishes. Excellent eggs, yet again!
Quimet & Quimet
Another iconic place. My sister and I went here three times on an 8 day trip in 2014. The food was just as spectacular this trip, but the only mar was our server. In 2014, we were served by one of the Quimets - Joana, who was an utter joy with her big, bawdy laugh and raspy voice. Her brother was there but told me Joana works the day shift now. He was friendly, but stayed behind the scenes for most of the time we were there, and our actual server was a totally rude and unfriendly dick. I’m posting a pic of him here - if you go there, avoid this man!! Other than that, we loved the food, and over-indulged as usual. standouts were their signature salmon with thick yogurt and truffled honey, bacalao with habas, pate de foie gras with volcanic salt, and a dish of pork belly, potatoes, shredded egg yolk, and roasted red peppers. Another one YOU MUST GO TO. preferably during the day when Joana is working!
La Tasqueta de Blai
We had overindulged so much at Quimet & Quimet that when we got to this place, just around the corner, practically, I was too stuffed to try more than a bite or two. The whole street that Tasqueta is on is known for its pintxos bars - pintxos are a type of tapa on skewers, mostly known from San Sebastian in Northern Spain. However, I have not run into any pintxos bars in Barcelona that can hold a candle to the ones in San Sebastian. They’re just much more delicate there, finer. In Barcelona, pintxos are like getting a bloody Mary with sliders as garnishes - just overkill, to me. But Tasqueta is supposed to be the favorite on Blai, so, if you must… but really, just go to San Sebastian and leave the pintxos to them. There’s enough amazing stuff to eat in Barcelona already.
La Fabrica Girona
We took a day trip to Girona (and no, I’ve never seen Game of Thrones!), and after sightseeing, then stumbling around a bit to find a place to eat, we ended up just having lunch at this bicycle coffee house, because, again, two of the guys in our group are really into bikes (apparently Girona is a major training ground for the Tour de France - who knew?) and also, one of them is the head buyer for Peet’s Coffee. Plus the food looked so incredibly pretty. The only mostly non-Spanish meal of the trip. Tasty, and a nice change of pace. Again, dem eggz…
One of the gals wanted to get ice cream from the Roca brothers’ gelateria - nice, whimsical pops, in the shape of a nose and a hand. Line out the door! Refreshing.
We had our last dinner of the trip here. It was by far the most expensive meal of the trip (I think maybe even more than Ten’s?) but that’s relative to every other meal we had. Most times, between 5 of us, we’d spend $100 dollars, including at least 2-4 bottles of wine. We had very attentive, fun servers here, and the only dish that wasn’t a stand-out was a new dish for them: pig trotters with judias blancas (white beans). The dish needed acid, or something herby, or something, as it was one note and very rich. just needed a little tweak. The server asked us what we thought of it, since it was new, and we told him, gently, honestly, and he thanked us. The stand-outs for me were the cockles and the sea urchin risotto. Wonderful.
My final “bfast,” alone, as my friends left on an earlier flight. I just googled “tapas near me” and found this place with more stars than the rest. I literally almost teared up at the final taste of my food. Berberechos a la Galicia and more ous cabreaos, with uber-crispy potatoes, again hand mixed at the counter.
El Chigre 1769
We came here 2-3 times, for vermut, and for cava. Very convivial on two nights, another we had a rather douchy young waiter who ignored us until we paid more attention to him.
Babula Bar 1937
we literally closed this bar down every night as it was around the corner from our apt. Wonderful group of young people working here, made us feel at home every night. There’s a DJ on weekends, and we danced our 50+ year old asses off.
Some of the best cocktails I’ve had anywhere. I personally had a truffle martini that was TO.DIE.FOR. and one friend had a foie gras cocktail - i don’t know how they did it but you could smell/taste the foie yet there was no greasiness or evidence of it. I’d definitely go back.
We drank here a couple of times before we had dinner. Wish they had more to offer in the way of vermut (they only have one Italian one stocked!), but otherwise we loved the feel of this place.
La Font de Les Muses
A bar we just stumbled upon while waiting for tattoos (don’t ask!) to be finished. Very much a neighborhood place, simple, and quiet. Food looked awesome, and there’s a whole small restaurant in the back.
Stand-out here was an absinthe martini - potent and delicious!
I love this gorgeous city like nobody’s business. Lived there when I was 17 for 6 months, and this was my second trip since then. Planning on going back next year. It has gone to the very top of my list of places I want to expat to.
Sidenote: We challenged ourselves to drink 30 bottles of wine on this trip, and overachievers that we are, we hit 43 (in addition to the cocktails, random glasses of vermut and cava, and cañas (small glasses of beer). Wine is so goddamned good there, and cheap!!
p.s. - I’m saddened by the the violent protests taking place (that started the very morning after we left, after the verdicts came out), but I support the Catalonians in their quest for separation - most of them are not causing the havoc you may have seen online - hundreds of thousands have been marching peacefully . There are always those who take things too far.
p.s.s. I ate pan con tomate, my favorite tapa of all time, at almost every single meal, whether at a tapas bar (mostly), or a restaurant, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Made me so very happy.
If you’ve come this far, thanks for indulging me!