If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the two days I spent eating my way around Barcelona it is this: just because something is published on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s the truth (particularly in the case of restaurant opening hours). Note to self – next time you’re only going to be in BCN for a flying visit, make sure it isn’t going to happen on a Sunday or a Monday.
Arrive in Barelona & head out for some tapas only to find that the restaurant you’ve chosen is closed on Sundays. Take this as a sign that an early night is needed. Find a gelato joint called Belgious and treat yourself to the dinner of food-loving champions – a double scoop cone of white chocolate and Ferrero Rocher. Sleep.
Treat your hunger to an exploration of the most famous market in Barcelona, La Boqueria. Take in a coffee and some seriously delicious chickpeas (or tripe, if you dare) at Bar Pinotxo. Drop in and resist the temptation of the sweet treats at Escriba.
Walk up and down Carrer Comerc, a few times looking for modern tapas at Santa Maria before coming up with Plan B – a late lunch of vegetable tortilla (omelette), the Catalan staple pa amb tomaquet (bread rubbed with olive oil & tomato) and a fresh, crunchy cod carpaccio with chopped peppers and onion at the bar in the restaurant of the Santa Caterina markets.
It’s time to get the walking shoes on and make space for dinner. Trek to Cocoa Sampka (the cocoa market) and pick up a few blocks of interesting single-origin chocolate. Then it’s time to worship at the temple of jamon. Jamonismo is well worth a visit – try top quality jamon from different regions in Spain.
Since you’re in the neighbourhood, drop in for an aperitif and a few tapas at the classic Bar Mut. Enjoy the calm before rush hour. Apparently it gets super noisy and smoky but at 6pm it’s lmost deserted. Love their boquerones (white anchovies marinated in vinegar) and their bread with fruity olive oil.
monday second dinner
It’s a fair walk, but how else can you make room for more tapas. Head to Quimet y Quimet – a little bar and bottle shop that just happens to serve some of the most amazing tapas around. Stand at the bar and get the fish plate that comes out something like a sashimi platter and the pan (bread with a variety of flavoured breads and crackers). Try to save room for the cheese served with candied chestnut and green fig conserve (a brilliant alternative to quince paste). Five different types, mostly local with a stilton and a brilliat savarin thrown in for good measure.
Settle for a ‘light’ breakfast to make way for the big day of indulging ahead. Snack on the jamon you couldn’t resist buying at Jamonismo. Decide that you prefer the sweet nuttiness of the Salamanco jamon over the intense saltiness (almost vegemite) flavour of the Andalusian.
After much agonising, head to Bar Inopia (Albert Adria’s tapas bar) for a little pre-lunch snack. Feel your stomach sigh with relief (and a little disappointment) to find that they are closed for lunch. Ogle the menu and the vibrantly-coloured decor and make a mental note to put Bar Inopia on the top of the list for your next visit to Barca.
Head to the cute-as-a-button Anima for the most amazing-value lunch. Ten euros for two courses including a drink and coffee. Settle in by the open door and enjoy the dappled sunshine through the trees. Make the difficult menu selection with a lime and quinoa salad with avocado dressing to start and the stir fried mushrooms with soft polenta and parmesan to follow. Congratulate yourself on your
abstemiousness and stick to the agua con gas.
tuesday second lunch
Feel a little Hobbit-like as you stroll over to Comerc, 24 for your second lunch. Curse your luck (and that you left so much on your plate at Anima) when you are told that the kitchen has closed at 3pm. It’s only 3.08pm. Can you really be in Spain? Have a quick flick through the chef’s cookbook and chalk it up as an adventure for next time.
Retrace your steps over your food-lovers’ walking tour. Start with the just-begining-to-close Santa Caterina market and end with a drink at La Vinya del Senyor sitting in the placa near the Catherdral del Mar. Sneak a peak at the creative candy store, Pappabuble and resit the urge to invest in an old-school all-day sucker.
Meet George, your slightly eccentric food writer friend and Barcelona resident of 40 years at the Attenu (a members-only library / cultural centre / bar that you need a fingerprint scan to enter). Relax by the palm-lined fountain and discuss the merits of fino sherry over manzanilla with a few flavour-packed roasted almonds.
Stroll with your mate and be patient while he ducks his head from bar to bar to get the football score. Make the most of the smoky, packed bar and prepare for some seriously good Basque tapas at Taktika Berri. Enjoy the delicious, slightly sparking Basque vino with the tapas as they flow. Don’t miss out on having way too many of the morcilla – perfectly crunchy blood sausage (black pudding) topped with a little tomato sauce.
tuesday second dinner
Bid farewell to your guide and start to head for home. Realise that it’s not far to Tapac 24 and the night is still young (OK it’s 11.30pm). Drop in for a wicked late-night snack of the best pa amb tomatquet ever and the witty hamburger mc foie. Roll home to bed for your 7am flight and promise your waistline that you will never have a second dinner again – well at not until next time you find yourself in Barcelona.
For more cities:
See the Stonesoup Guide to Tasty Travel.
Mmmm great looking restaurants. Great idea with the online book.
Yum! Spanish food is delicious. I wish I could visit Barcelona… :D Awesome book, too! :)
That is my kind of weekend – whenever we travelled to Europe for weekends (we lived in London, so not that unusual) we’d basically eat our way round – just to get the feel of the city you understand. We even did the Forum and Colosseum in Rome in about 1 1/2 hrs in order to make time for lunch… Now I want to go back to Europe if only to eat!
My very first trip to Europe (at age 42!) was to Barcelona with my wife. Amazing city to just walk through and explore, since the different districts offer so much in the way of their own cultural personality and flair. You cannot leave without at least having one jamon serrano bocadillo for breakfast, or a mud-thick cup of xocalata with churros as a well-deserved treat after a day of exploring. One of my favorite stops there was literally this small hole in the wall restaurant (which of course didn’t open until 11pm) called Nou Celler on Princesa. My wife and I thought we’d have dinner at one of the more “upscale” tapas joints on our last night there, only to be disappointed with the quality, and finding ourselves determined to seek out a place worthy of a proper send-off. We came across Nou Celler, and the food offered spectacular “Cuina Catalana” – grilled squid and shrimp, meats, vegetables, etc. I have a love affair with that city, with its people and art and food. Thanks for reminding me of that.
Oh, man, you hit up all my favorites and found a couple I managed to miss during my four months in Barcelona. Clearly I need to go back… thanks for the quick trip down memory lane. :)
What a fantastic culinary trip adventure.
Even when you missed a restaurant, you didn’t seem to go hungry!
My friends ran out of money in Barcelona so they always ordered drinks and got tapas free with them. That’s all they ate. But they had a good time!
I’ve never been to Barcelona but really enjoyed reading this. Aaand I can’t believe I didn’t know the word “abstemiousness”! Pretty excited about that.
I adore Barcelona. What a beautiful and quirky city. Love all the second lunches and dinners. Fun!
Jules, I loved reading about your foodie-fest in Barcelona and can’t wait to finally get myself there to eat some Jamon!
I’ve never been in Barcelona too, but I remember very well the food I ate in a spanish restaurant in Ireland…I will never forget that, it was gorgeous…and I suppose to eat spanish food in spain must be so much more better…
mika – a spanish restaurant in ireland – a nice combination of my holiday destinations. can imagine they went all out with the patatas bravas
thanks tresna – yes you need to put barcelona on the list!
bria – isn’t Barca the best.
sarah – I think you didn’t know about abstemiousness because I think I made it up – but it’s out there now. I kinda like it (although not so sure I like what it stands for)
interesting strategy of your friends – it’s hard not to have fun in barcelona even if you are broke.
did you have any favourites I missed? would love to hear about them – I need more excuses to go back!
thanks for sharing your experiences – will have to put nou cellar on my list for next time
completely agree claire – the best thing about europe is the food
thanks wei wei & mark
I must say that (apologies to Italia), Barcelona is my favorite food city on the planet.
You’ve inspired me to get my butt back there — and fast!
I started reading your post and thought you’d been following me around town last week: lunch at the counter at the Santa Caterina Market, ice cream at Belgious (and patatas bravas from Bar Tomas – the best!)… all greats! Your Barcelona book looks fabulous — good luck!
Didn’t realize you’d replied, Jules, sorry! You did miss a few. I was there as a student, so on a pretty tight budget, but here were a few of my favorites:
-the Juicy Jones vegan bar on Carrier de l’Hospital.
-Els Quatre Gats, especially if you’ve read Shadow of the Wind
-there was a tiny hole in the wall place just past the mercado de san jose that had the best falafel I’ve ever tasted. I wish I remembered the name… The mercado has several excellent fruit stands, but walk past the entrance and to the right and the prices drop by half. :)
interesting, i read that spain is considered as one of the best mediterranean food countries, i found http://www.world-rt.com/ where i download for free my ebook about barcelona with local info and tips to plan my vacation, hope may help others too
What a shame ! Most names for restaurants and places are misspelled ! Even in the book Barcelona for food lovers.
Strange recipe for paella. Catalan Cava is not produced in the Penedés region, but in the Anoia.
Althought not a Barcelonian, I have been living here for 33 years and I know the city and its food.
I cannot say about other cities, but info about Rome has misspellings too !
Apart from that, most of the recommendations are correct.
Thanks for the feedback Francesca
Spelling isn’t my strong point so you’ll be happy to know I’ve recently hired a proof reader for my blog posts but sadly these ones are before her time :)
I’m really in love with Barcelona, in my opinion one of the best in the world.
If you go to Barcelona two days, you may go to Parc Güell, Stay one night in Hotel Me and go to diner to Tenorio restaurant.
Amazing plan! ;)