Just got back from a six-day trip to Barcelona, and have gathered together the following notes from eating my way through the city. I went on the trip solo, and in general found that to be fine (though I definitely got a few looks for eating alone).
::: GOOD :::
c/Muntaner 171 (corner of Corsega) – north in Eixample south of diagonal
every day 1-4pm, 8-midnight
This was *definitely* worth the hike up to the Eixample from my hotel… the best tapas I had while in Barcelona. The place was also packed at lunch with locals, which is always a good sign. I ordered for myself, in order of must-eat:
Pajaritos (a fried scallion-ish dish)
Tellines Planxa (little clams)
Virutes de Carxofes (fried artichokes)
Flor De Carbasso (fried squash blossom)
Tires Alberginies (fried eggplant)
Pa Amb Tomaquet (tomato bread)
All was excellent, though if I did it again, I would have left out the bread (too out of season) and either the squash blossom or the eggplant, since it was a bit heavy on the fried foods. Still, the first place I’d go back to in the city.
C/ Aribau 58
+34 933 239 490
This place lived up to its reputation. I went during lunch, and the place was practically empty. I ordered the extravagant larger tasting menu, and it was totally worth it – much better value than similar tasting menus in New York City. The service was excellent, and made all the smoother since the owners are Canadian by birth, and my waitress was a member of the family. I snuck pictures of each course during the meal… the highlight for me was the scallop served on a bed of sweet onion confit. Other memorable courses included the fois gras terrine and the suckling pig. Totally delicious.
Avinguda Marquès De L'argentera 19
+34 932 681 781
This “pintxo” place (tapas served on bread, skewered with toothpicks) across from the Franca train station, was absolutely excellent. Definitely worth a trip down to try it out, but give a call first since they weren’t open several nights I was there.
+34 933 199 993
Another “pintxo” place that I stopped by almost nightly. It was very popular with locals and tourists alike, and was one of the few places in Barcelona where I didn’t feel at all odd eating alone.
Caputxes 10 – west of church Santa Maria
Fantastic chocolate shop; well worth a stop-by if you’re in the area and trying out the Pintxo places listed above.
C/ Assaonadors 7-9
+34 933 193 169
Run by a British expat and his family, this place was one of the best bargains to be had in the city. Pretty authentic Malay fare (I used to live in SE Asia, so know the real deal), and you have to get the combination plate for 14 Euro – it came with about 8 mini-dishes, dessert, a beer. A very welcome respite when you’re looking for something to break up your food choices.
C/ Flors 12 - Raval, by Sant Pau del Camp
+34 934 411 139
I didn’t eat here, but three Barcelona residents independently told me this was their favorite restaurant in the city for more upscale Catalan fare.
C/ Mercè 28
+34 933 151 009
I didn’t get a chance to eat here either, though my Spanish cooking teacher said it was the first place she and her husband went to whenever coming back to Barcelona after traveling. Supposedly they do one thing and one thing only: fried sardines. When they run out of sardines for the day, they just close up shop. Definitely will try to hit this place on my next stay.
::: OKAY :::
C/ Carders 46
+34 932 687 569
This places serves Asian “tapas” – small portions off a pan-asian menu. A lot of people around me were getting sushi, but I tried out some Malay noodles, chicken satay, and a thai beef salad – the latter was by far the best. It was an okay meal, but if I wanted an Asian fix while in Barcelona I definitely would go to Bunga Raya (above) instead.
Merendero de la Mari
Plaza Pau Vila 1 (Barceloneta)
+34 932 213 141
Traditional Catalan seafood items like fideua, paella, or black rice. I went here for my last dinner in Barcelona, and while the food was excellent, the restaurant certainly seemed to cater to the tourist (be they foreign or domestic) crowd. Everyone spoke English, though unfortunately the waiter didn’t get my order correct – I had ordered the fideua with seafood, and I got a plain fideua (no protein) instead. Being a general wuss, I just ate what came, and it was fine but nothing special. The croquettes I had to start the meal were much better, but the dessert – a cheesecake with raspberry – was definitely the highlight.
Plaça des les Olles 8 – right by my hotel
Mon 8:30-11:30pm; Tues-Sat 1-4:30pm and 8:30-11:30pm (closed Sundays)
This was my first meal in Barcelona, and overall I was disappointed. If my Spanish were better, I would definitely have told them not to give me the mixed fried seafood platter, which dominated the meal and wasn’t particularly noteworthy. It was worth going for the experience, I suppose, but overall I had much better meals for a lot less the rest of my time in the city.
::: NOT RECOMMENDED :::
Taller de Tapas
Plaça Sant Josep Oriol 9 +34 933 018 020 - Old city east of ramblas
There are now Taller de Tapas restaurants all over the city: it’s become the McDonalds of tapas, and you should stay away.
::: COOKING CLASS :::
My most memorable food experience in Barcelona was definitely my one-day cooking class with Catacurian (http://www.catacurian.com/) – a small company run by dancer-cum-chef Alicia. She has a multi-day tour/class out of her home in El Priorat, which sounds like a dream, but I took one of her one-day courses she runs out of her beautiful, cozy apartment in Barcelona. The day started with a tour of Boqueria – including visits to all of her favorite vendors, then we walked to her apartment, where the day’s class was on Spanish rice dishes. The class was great for both professionals and more casual participants, and Alicia was a wonderful teacher and host. We made paella, a rabbit-mushroom dish, a monkfish-spring onion/garlic dish, and crema catalana, as well as drinking wines with every course. Frankly, I think her course was underpriced given the quality of food, wine, and instruction. Her class is limited to six guests, ensuring a small size, and at my session there were only two other students, allowing for a lot of one-on-one instruction.