Barcelona was our last stop in Spain after being in Madrid for four days and San Sebastian for two days. We were there for four days during Holy Week. At first I was worried because a lot of the restaurants I wanted to try were closed for Semana Santa, but we were still able to eat very well. Highlights included a dinner at Hisop, eating those delicious little sandwiches everywhere and another dinner at Paco Merlago Alta Taberna. The only major disappointment was the weather, it rained every day that we were there! For those planning a trip to Barcelona, I would highly recommend Maribel's guide which can be dowloaded on the web. We used it quite a bit and all her recs were spot on.
Day 1 - We arrived in Barcelona in the afternoon and were going to the Barcelona - Milan Champions League game that night, so we went to the Boqueria and got some snacks for the game and grabbed some pregame tapas and drinks at Taller de Tapas near Las Ramblas in the Barri Gotic. Taller de Tapas is a small chain geared towards tourists, with english explanations. Standard tapas fare and cold beer. A servicable option.
Day 2 - Late lunch at a few places in the Barri Gotic and El Born areas. El Xampanyet, Irati Taberna Basca and a bakery/sandwich shop that I can't remember the name of, but was right of the Jaume metro stop. El Xampanyet was good for pan am tamaquet and some fo the canned seafood (muscles, razor clams). The bakery had great little flauta sandwiches and the Irati Taberna Basca was a good option for basque style pinxtos. We had delicious mushroom croquettes, apple and goat cheese things and other tasty treats there. Dinner was at Hisop, which was phenomenal. Because my wife is pregnant and has specific dietary restrictions, we did not do the tasting menu, but at 60 Euros it seemed like a great value. We opted instead for the a la carte. For starters we had broad beans with shrimp and bacon and something else which is currently eluding me, but it was good. For entrees we had grilled hake and I had suckling pig. Both were delicious. The only slight misses were the deserts which seemed a little forced. I had the chocolate bread and beer which consisted of chocolate cake, bread ice cream and beer foam. The only thing I really enjoyed was the cake, the rest was not memorable. Service at Hisop was also fantastic. It was one of the few places took notice of my wife's restrictions and made helpful suggestions.
Day 3 - Lunch was more sandwiches early and then Euskal Extea in the El Born which is owned by the same people that own Irati Taberna Basca. We ordered a la carte and had grilled chorizo, a chuleton (steak), potatoes and a green salad. The chorizo was spicy and plentiful and the steak was nicely prepared. Also after days of protien heavy diet meals it was nice to have a green salad! Service was also very accomodating. After a long day of sightseeing, we stopped at Tapac 24 in the l'eixample on our way back to the hotel. This is a newer tapas restuarant. When we were there it was full of tourists, and the only people speaking Spanish were the waiters. Nonetheless, we had a delicious lentils dish, lamb skewers, pa am tomaquet, and bombas (meatballs with potato).
Day 4 - This was Good Friday and a lot of restuarants were closed. We ate lunch at Restaurant Allium in the Barri Gotic. The food here was fine, but I didn't think it was anything special, in fact I can't for the life of me remember what we ate. Our final meal was quite an enjoyable tapas feast at Paco Merlago Alta Taberna in L'eixample. I would highly recommend that anyone planing a trip to Barcelona visit here. There we had delicious grilled cockles, Taloso (red bean dish), sauteed shrimp, bombas, grilled suckling goat chops, asparagus and the ubiquitous pa amb tomaquet. Dessert cosisted of Catalunyan french toast, toast with chocolate and some type of cream filled pastry. Everything was top notch and another highlight of our trip.
As I stated, the only disppointment was the fact that some of the places that we were hoping to visit were closed. Restuarants like Taktika Berri, Cal Pep and Sant Joan were high on my list and we were unable to visit them. Also, each time we went to the Boqueria, Pinxto Bar and El Quim were closed. Oh well, I guess that's just incentive to make another trip!