Chowhounds has been my go-to resource for food related travel research, and I've had many great meals based on recommendations in these pages. Finally, I have an opportunity to give something back to this community! I recently spent two weeks in Barcelona; here's a brief report on my discoveries.
I'll warn you in advance that places like Tickets are not up my alley; I was really looking for more casual experiences and to mingle with locals with a few notable exceptions as you'll see below. My idea of a great food day is a stellar menu del dia , eaten in good company, and a hearty slab of tortilla and a glass of rioja before bed.
San Antoni/Poble Sec
These neighborhoods were revelations for me. The vibe around C/Parlament & Viladomat was exceedingly pleasant. Hard to go wrong with a drink and a snack at Vinito or the Nostalgic. If you want a taste of where the neighborhood is coming from you'll pop into the Gol for a caña. Bohemic and Cafe Cometa were my favorite upscale places.
Cross Parallel and wander through the throngs of people and bars on C/Blai. The whole scene is pretty garish but it's good for "el ultimo." I visited Quimet Y Quimet twice during my stay in Barcelona and I have to say that it is utterly worth fighting the crowd for place at the bar. I also found myself repeatedly at the cafe Retiro. It's been around for ages and sits at the crossroads between Poble Sec and the Raval.
I had decent but inauthentic vegetarian meals at Sesamo, and Teresa Carles and I'm not sure I'd go back to either place. Cera 23 was lauded in reviews but mediocre in person.
We had a great lunch at OFIS [right next to SIFO bar], and very pleasant meals at Candela Raval, cafe Mendiazabal and Biblioteca. Visit Bar Bodega Agustin for a caña in the company of locals.
The BG still has a few places worth visiting although the whole scene is getting very very tired. The tiny wine bar Zim is totally worth seeking out, as is La Plata which is still chugging away. Galician bar La Celta has reopened across the street from its former location and now has a second bar in the Born on C/Princessa. Cafe Babel is tucked away in one of the coziest corners of the neighborhood, and I still have a soft spot for Pisamorena near the post office.
Bodega La Palma epitomizes the experience I was after in Barcelona and it didn't let me down on this trip. Just around the corner, PLA is still a good more upscale option. We also had a great lunch at Casa Bella near Drassanes, and an expensive but worth it lunch at El Quim in the Boqueria.
I know it's slightly pathetic, but I think Irati is my favorite of the touristic basque bars in the BG or Born, although I'm certain that all these places [including Sagradi and the Taller de Tapas] have their food made in one central kitchen.
Xampanyet can be an intimidating bar to throw yourself into but it is so worth it. La Vinya del Senyor is often mentioned here and it remains one of the more touristic destinations that I'd recommend in a heartbeat. If you want something more authentic, grab a snack and a glass of wine at Lanima del Vi.
A little further out, we had great lunches at 1932, El Atril, Candela and the Rincon de Galicia.
Such a pleasant neighborhood! We had a fun evening at basque bar Gasterea where the staff is hilarious. Also great experiences at Gata Mala and Rabipelao. Long standing vegetarian place L'illa de Gracia has closed and has been replaced by Cafe Godot, a more generic lunch spot with a good lunch menu del dia.
We had a great seafood lunch at La Bombeta. Surely but friendly waiters and a mixed crowd with plenty of locals.
Barcelona: I already miss it. Hope somebody finds this helpful.
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