Hotels/Restaurants Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao
Need chowhound wisdom. Looking for good accommodations and restaurants in these cities in Spain during the month of November. Anything outstanding, interesting, typical or just plain fun. Adventurous but not insane. Please help if you can. Thanx in advance.
Hi Terri! I spent a week in Barcelona last October, and wrote extensively about my eating adventures there. If you scroll down on the International Board to October 11, 1999, you will see a string captioned "Notes from Barcelona." I have a number of posts about eating in Barcelona within that string. After you've had a chance to read my posts, if you have any questions, let me know and I'll try to answer them. By the way, a friend who just returned from a trip to Spain, including a stay in Barcelona armed with a copy of my Chowhound posts, told me that the grilled razor clams at Cal Pep were the single best dish he had during his entire trip.
P.S. I returned home from my Portugal trip around 12:30 a.m. this morning after an overnight stay with inlaws on Long Island. So tomorrow, hopefully, I'll be resuming my posts on Portugal.
re: Tom Armitage
Madrid tips...do not miss El Museo Del Pan Gallego ("The Museum of Galician Bread"), a REAL chowhoundish find there (people living right nearby don't know it). Actually, the tarts (tarta santiago) are even better than the bread. Man...I cannot for the life of me find the address. Hold on, I'm checking with a friend there.
Gypsies gather to play the real flamenco (informally-not really for audiences, but if youre there and they like you, you can stay) in the basement of a small, ordinary bar called La Candela in the old section of Madrid (very rough bar, very rough nabe, you've been warned). The music starts very late, and doesnt happen every night. I dont have the address--try phone books, or if you meet any gypsies (or see flamenco musicians in tourist places), ask them. Its worth the effort.
If you'll be there in summer, drink lots of horchata. it's got to be fresh, ladled out of a metal barrel, not squirted out of a jet drink thing. Ask around. There used to be a good place near Pl. Mayor. Actually, I'll check on that, too.
Do NOT try to do the Prado in one day. It's too much.
Plan to eat late and hang late. Sleep all morning. If you try to maintain an American pace/schedule in Spain, you'll never really experience the country.
To do tapas, start at 5:30 and walk south from Plaza Santa Ana and go where the crowds are. They're really cordial, ask for advice on exactly what to order where. Madrid people are just as fanatical about tapas as they are about football. You'll meet friends and get superb guidance.
If you read spanish, pick up the "El Pais Tapas Guide to Madrid". if you don't read spanish, it still may be of some use.
Eat tons of tortilla de patatas--wonderful potato omelet--everywhere (don't worry, the extra red wine and garlic in your diet will kill the additional cholesterol). Be prepared...in Madrid they make it very gooey in the center (not much salmonella there, though).
In Barcelona do NOT miss Llar de l'all i oli ("The House of Garlic Mayonnaise"), which I sent Tom to (see his report). It may be my favorite restaurant. It's actually in the suburbs, in Badalona. Take the metro there and then either a taxi or a quick walk (bring a good map). It's at calle conquista 87, 383-5307. Sometimes I call them, long distance, to ask innocent questions like when they close that day or if there are any specials (ostrich, lately). It's worth the cost to feel like I'm staying in touch (haven't been in years).