Hi all - visited Barcelona last year & wrote this long trip report. Saved it in a word document, but now that I'm doing research for this years' trip I realize I never posted it! Hope it's helpful!
We visited Barcelona earlier this month and I wanted to post about our dining experiences before memory of the details fade too much. We had our two young children (2 & 5 years old) with us, but did have a sitter for a few nights.
First of all we had NO issue whatsoever bringing the kids anywhere, no attitude from any place we visited. We had a stroller with us, which we would fold up before we entered the restaurant and would find a place to stow it or one of the employees would bring it back somewhere out of the way. We had our kids on a later schedule than usual on this trip, so having dinner at 8-9PM did not prove to be an issue for us.
Favorites: Tickets, Kaiku, El Qim de la Boqueria
Great: Bar Velodromo, Mundial Bar, Bar del Pla, Barcelona Rekjavik
Honorable Mention: Bar Pinoxto, Maitea
Okay in a Pinch: Cornelia & Co, Bar Kasparo
Not worth the $$: Comerc 24
First night we wandered over through El Borne neighborhood and were hungry before most places opened. We ended up grabbing a few Basque style tapas to stave off everyone getting grumpy at Sagardi in a cute outdoor plaza. The tapas did the job – we had smoked fish, chorizo and what seemed like jam on top of a large dollop of cream cheese – all on top of a slice of baguette. Okay in a pinch, but not something to search out.
MUNDIAL BAR – 1st night dinner. I had read the opening time was 8:30 and it must open earlier, because when we wandered over at 8:30 it was almost full. It has a small and a number of tables. Seemed to be a good mix of locals and tourists and was lively and fairly loud (which is always a good thing with kids ☺). We had eggplant chips with goat cheese (aged?) and honey, tallerines, polpito, pimiento de pardon, shrimp lollipops and cava. The eggplant was fantastic…fried perfectly (not oily at all) and the tang of the goat cheese was brilliant with crisp and salty eggplant and the sweetness of the honey. Tallerines (very small clams) were tasty, but a bit sandy. I don’t have much of a tolerance for sandy shellfish, but my husband and 5 year old loved them. Polpito (baby octopus) were great – toasty at the ends, but not charred. Also a hit with the 5 yo. We ate padron peppers a number of times on this trip and never encountered the occasional spicy one like I do when I buy them from the farmer’s market here in California. My extra picky two year old actually ate the ones at Mundial. The shrimp lollipops was the only dish not really to my taste. Large shrimp battered and then fried (on a stick) it was also dipped in a sweet and ever so slightly spicy & tangy sauce that seemed like it came from a bottle. As with the eggplant, the shrimp were expertly fried but the slightly Asian taste of the sauce didn’t really jive with the rest of the meal. Wishing I had ordered the patatas bravas instead (they were on every other table).
KAIKU – Had reserved a table outside, which was nice as there was enough room to not have to worry about the stroller (it’s in a big open area next to Barceloneta beach). I don’t know the background of the chef here, but the flavors of all the dishes were top notch. Besides Tickets, this was our favorite meal of the trip. We had navajas, mussels with a lemon and thyme dipping sauce (but they were also juicy and delicious on their own), big fat mild oysters from Brittany which were served with lime, a baby greens salad with pepitas and a honey vinaigrette and the squid ink paella. My seafood loving 5 yo ate everything and the 2 yo was great with the paella.
BAR KASPARO: Ate a very light dinner that night at Bar Kasparo which was around the corner from our hotel and has a small playground right in front of it. This is really more of a small café than a restaurant, and most of the tables are outside. After the 2yo had an accident on the swings (playground more geared toward older kids) we decided to eat inside. The one woman working there, making the food and serving everyone could not have been nicer, more friendly or accommodating. We piled into one of the small booths and ordered a few of the handful of basic sandwiches. All were served on soft coca bread. We had the vege (pesto, tomato, mozzarella) and chicken with avocado. Decent, basic stuff with no additional flourishes.
BAR VELODROMO - The next night we had a sitter and met a friend who lives in BCN on the rooftop of the Hotel Central. I was a little grumpy about going to a hotel, but the view here is worth the price of a drink. We then cabbed it to Bar Velodromo….
….And here is where I left off. I remember we loved our meal at Velodromo & that we had Patatas w/ Jamon & fried egg, cockels (tinned), pardon peppers and other things. Again our meal here was great, but we have friends that went a few weeks after us and they say it was their meal there that gave them food poisioning.
TICKETS: Really and truly a fantastic meal. GO! I’ve seen the dishes described many times on this board so I’m not going over it again here.
BAR DEL PLA: remember having the best cup of gazpacho I have ever eaten in my life. The squid ink croquettas were also delicious. We weren’t too hungry so just had a glass of wine and the above.
BAR PINOXO: This was good, but I think my experience suffered from my remedial Spanish. We sat down, got a pastry for my little one and my older child wanted mussels. We were then asked if we wanted fish or meat (in Spanish). I let him know I wanted fish, he asked me what I liked & I told him a couple of different things, thinking I would get a bit of this and a bit of that, more small plates tapas style. I ended up with a number of large plates of fish, my daughter with cold mussels (and at 5 years old, she’s down with them hot, but couldn’t deal with them cold w/diced peppers in a vinaigrette on top) and my husband ended up with a large bowl of beef stew. It was all tasty….not as refined as El Qim in my opinion, but I wasn’t prepared to spend 75 Euro on breakfast, which is what the bill came to. Again, probably our fault in not understanding the ordering process there and only basic language skills to get us along.
CORNELIA & CO: We ended up here one day because we were walking to the Basque Tapas bar a couple of blocks away (can’t remember the name right now) and the kids really couldn’t go one more second without lunch or we were going to have a major meltdown episode on our hands. The décor is “fancy deli” and there were lots of ladies lunching. I think the kids got pasta and a cheeseburger, which they were quite happy with. There was a mix up with the ordering. We ordered a green bean salad but got a giant plate of burratta (not necessarily a bad thing). The food was decent, but not knock your socks off. Again, seemed a bit expensive for the quality of the food.
BARCELONA REKJAVIK: Ended up at the branch in the Raval a few mornings for pastries. Can’t tell you how much I wish I had one of these at home! Very helpful and friendly staff and not too sweet olive oil based organic Catalan pastries.