We are back and I want to post my comments on our trip grazing through Spain. I want to thank all the posters to this board for providing me with information that was very helpful in planning a great dining experience. We flew into Madrid, flew on to Barcelona for (5) nights and took the train back to Madrid for (6) nights and flew back to the states.
The hotel recommended Costa Gallega; Passeig de Gràcia, 71, a couple of blocks from the hotel, which allowed us to start our trip under an umbrella on the expansive sidewalk with paella and Albarino. I was surprised when I ordered Albarino and we got the same wine from Laxas that we get in Pennsylvania.
We had dinner at Origens 99,9%; calle Vidriería, 6-8 which I picked because it was a couple of blocks from the hotel and did not close between lunch and dinner in case the jet lag got to us. We managed to wait until 2045 and arrived at the empty restaurant, which was packed when we left about 2215. We had an assortment of tapas and then an assortment of desserts and washed it down with a decent red wine. I really liked the carrot soup and the veal with olives. It seemed a little strange being in Barcelona and listing to The Duke of Earl and other great oldies as background music but they were playing the good stuff so it was great. Since Origens is also a market we picked up an assortment of yogurts (goat, cow, and sheep) to have with breakfast.
I had planned for lunch at Taktika-Berri; Valencia, 169 and did not think I would need a reservation if we arrived early wrong, it was fully booked for lunch when we arrived at 1330 on a Thursday. However, we were able to sit on a bar stool and sample the great tapas as it came out of the kitchen, probably the best tapas on our entire trip. They totaled up the bill by counting the number of toothpicks on our plates.
We were unable to make a dinner reservation where we wanted to, so we had more tapas in the middle of Rambla de Catalunya at Ciudad Condal; Rambla Catalunya, 18 (recommended by the hotel).
As we walked through the old city we came across an available terrace table on Plaça de Jacint Raventós of Taller de Tapas; Calle de l'Argenteria, 51 to sample some good tapas and sit and relax for a little while in a beautiful setting on a beautiful day.
I had made a reservation over the internet for highly recommended Cinc Sentits; aribau, 58 and we had the best meal of our entire vacation. We ordered the Omakase (tasting menu) with wine pairings and experienced course after course of incredible flavors. We did not want the wonderful meal to ever end. This experience rates with some of the best meals we have ever eaten.
To get away from the fiesta crowds we headed down to the El Born district to find a place to sit down, rest, and eat. We stopped at Lonja de Tapas; Plaça del Palau, 7 where we ordered too many tapas dishes and were not able to finish, but what we ate was very good.
Dinner was at another restaurant recommended by the hotel; El Mussol; carrer d'Aragó, 261 which was only a short walk and was almost all local diners. Communications are always interesting when you do not speak the language and sometimes we find out what we ordered when we get it, which is part of the charm. We had again over ordered so we were glad when some of it never came.
It was a beautiful day for walk along the beach to our lunch at Arola in the Hotel Arts; Carrer Marina, 19 -21 where we had a relaxing, fabulous meal in a gorgeous setting. This is the first time I have had pig cheeks or foamed potatoes and they were both great. We waddled to the nearest Metro station and went back to the hotel to pack and rest up for dinner
Since it was raining that evening we walked back to Origens 99,9% for some more tapas and wine to finish our stay in Barcelona. This time the background music was Spanish.
On our orientation walk we stopped for Misto (toasted ham and cheese sandwich) on Plaza Oriente to relax.
We made a reservation at Restaurante Botin de Madrid; Calle de Cuchilleros, 17 where the meal was exactly like the posts about the restaurant, full of tourists but very good food (the suckling pig and the meringue iced cake come to mind).
We set up a successful routine in Madrid to drop off the phone number of the restaurant we wanted for dinner at the front desk of the hotel as we left in the morning and they would make the reservation for us later in the day.
We stopped for lunch at Bocaito; calle Libertad 4-6 in the Chueca district. Great calamari, veal, and the best fries we had in Spain (different from the spicy potatoes).
Dinner in the upscale Salamanca district at Combarro; José Ortega y Gasset 40 an excellent upscale Galician seafood restaurant completed our day.
We walked to the wine bar Asturianos; Vallehermoso, 94 for lunch. We ordered two different menus of the day, which we were not sure what we had ordered, but for 10 each got two great courses, wine, and a fantastic lemon sorbet for dessert. What a great value.
We went to Las Carboneras; Plaza del Conde de Miranda, 1 for an OK dinner with a Flamenco performance. The show seemed pretty good to an outsider like us since we have nothing to compare it with, but it was enjoyable. The show lasted over an hour and consisted of two band members, two singers, and four dancers (3F, 1M), who each got a chance to really perform.
As we were walking back towards the hotel we passed the Westin Palace Hotel and decided to step inside to see La Rotonda (stained glass domed ceiling over central courtyard). We were tired of walking so we decided to eat lunch with a great view of the glass dome. We had a wonderful buffet meal with cava and good wine. We especially liked the dessert table and the best vanilla ice cream we have ever had. The only problem was we had not asked about the price and the buffet turned out to be 45 each. We chalked it up to experience having a great lunch in a great setting for a little more than we had planned to spend.
Restaurante Viridiana; Juan de Mena, 14 was our dinner choice for the evening and the decorating, attention to detail, relaxed service, and exceptional food made this an great choice. The restaurant is themed on the 1961 movie Viridiana directed by Luis Buñuel and is very tastefully done.
For lunch we went to Juana la Loca; Plaza Puerta de Moros, 4 in La Latina district where we again had great tapas and a couple of desserts to go with our wine.
By dinner we were ready for red meat, so we went to Asador Frontón; Tirso de Molina, 7 where the beef we ordered for two would have fed a family of six with leftovers and another exceptional dessert, panchineta (cream-filled puff pastry).
We had planned to go to El Tempranillo; Calle de la Cava Baja, 38 for lunch but by the time we got there we couldnt get in the door. It must be good judging by the crowd. We went around the corner back to Juana la Loca for another light tapas lunch and just happened to catch a table as someone was leaving.
I had wanted a fancy dinner for our last evening in Spain so I had reserved, over the internet, dinner at La Terraza del Casino; Alcalá, 15. The setting on an open terrace on a beautiful evening overlooking grand buildings across the street couldnt have been better. The meal was an experience as well as a great meal. We started with a pallet cleanser which was a spot to lick off a spoon, followed by a whiskey sour sorbet made table side with smoking dry ice. This was followed by faux orange caviar made from passion fruit juice dripped into a clear liquid from a group of hypodermic needles and then served in caviar tins. Since my wife and I had different courses because she wanted to avoid unusual shellfish (and I got my first taste of cockles) we were presented with two different menus of what we had when we left. We lost count of the many courses.
I would have made lunch and dinner reservations in Barcelona if I realized that it may be too late by the time I had arrived. We also did not realize that with the Festa de la Mercè falling on a Saturday, all the stores and many of the restaurants would be closed on Friday and Saturday and not open on Sunday. I would not have any problem recommending any of the restaurants we went to, since most of them were recommended by Chowhounds how could I go wrong? I will never travel again without input from this site.
Let me know if you have any questions or how I can help your next trip to be a success.