barcelona, hi end to lo end?
interested for mix of restaurants from low end to hi end. looking for a wide ranging catalan experience in a 5 day period in the middle of may. money doesnt matter so much as getting great food wherever it is. above average spanish language skills, but not catalan dialect.
other ppl in the group have/ are making resies at Abac, Alkimia, Ca L'isidre, moo, i think. and everyone is scrounging for local recs for food. we are staying in the gothic quarter near the correos. thx in advance!
I don't know if I'd call Catalan a "dialect" as much as "Italian and Martian whirled together in a blender" -- but be aware that many menus are only in Catalan, so bring a food primer with you.
Cal Pep (Plaça de les Olles, 8) has excellent tapes and above-average prices, though it's generally full by 20:30; actually all the tapes bars on that road between the Ronda Litoral and Via Laietana are quite good (Euskal Etxea, Sagardì Taberna, Taller de Tapas, etc.) Euskal Etxea also has a full-on jatetxea in the back where they start serving at 21:30 and has good classic Basque cuisine, with heavy use of garlic. Unfortunately they have stopped doing the txotx (the incredibly entertaining and inebriating celebration of the new cider) but their cider is also very good. El Xampanyet (say "sham-pan-YAY") has a wondrous selection of cavas and is a lot bigger than it looks.
If you've absolutely got to eat on La Rambla, go to La Boqueria (Mercat Sant-Josep) and do wine and tapes toward the back of the market, if you can get a seat. Another restaurant which doesn't suck is Mikel Etxea (La Rambla, 33) -- they have a branch in the Barri Gòtic as well; their tapas are very tasty, the cider is quite good, and the arròs negre is usually pretty tasty.
If you end up over in Diagonal Mar, the pickings are pretty slim (especially if you don't want to be wandering about La Mina after dark), but Man Go (c/Josep Pla, 27-33, across from the FNAC in the shopping centre) is quite tasty for being essentially a
Finally, if you find yourself craving Italian food, Fratelli la Bufala (I believe it's in c/Pau Claris -- yes, I know it's a chain, but it's a REALLY good chain) has excellent pizze and very, very good buffalo steaks.
One place to avoid -- there is a restaurant on c/Doctor Joaquim Pou, just a half block off of Via Laietana, that advertises a 7,75 menú at lunch -- it's horrible. I don't even know the name of it, but we were stuck in the rain one day and decided to eat at the next place we saw -- ended up with canned asparagus with bottled mayonnaise, a deep fried merluza fish stick, limp fries, tinned flan, and a litre of translucent plonk each.
You've absolutely got to have some gelat from Farggi (there's two in Plaça Catalunya alone) -- get the crema catalana, and try the yoghur amb mores (yoghurt with blackberries).
I assume you know that lunch is usually taken from 14:00 to 16:00 and dinner from 21:00 to 24:00... and that you will be overwhelmed with pa amb tomàquet (which in May may not be very nice, given that tomatoes don't come in until July).
This is recent report because we were in Barcelona around the 3rd week of April 06. We ate at Abac, Comerc24 and Senque Sentits. It was good but I've eaten better at some of the good NYC restaurants so to me there was nothing unique about those places. Minimalist designs and small portion food (except maybe for Comerc24 which was a fun place) but surely not worth a plane ticket to Barcelona. Famous 'Cal Pep' was a great experience because of the freshness and the preparation of the food, even though the place is touristy, it reflects a real Spanish tapas bar and it's a must go as far as I am concerned. Just a few door down from Cal Pep there is a great restaurant called 'Passadis del Pep'. It is bit hard to find because there is no sign, just the street #. You do not get a menu, the waitstaff starts poring unlimited Cava as soon as you are seated and food starts arriving....and more food, until you tell them to stop. This food is what I call Catalan cuisine and it was to me one of the best things we had in Barcelona.
Don't miss Cal Pep, where they don't take reservations and a line starts forming around 8:30. You sit at the long bar, look around and you'll want everything in sight. They'll put a bottle of Cava in front of you and charge you for what you drink. We went back the next night. Did eat in one of those highly touted places in the expensive part of the city and didn't like it. Another tapas place we loved is Raminet (I think that's the name, if not very close) in Barceloneta.
From a report earlier this year:
"Senyor Parellada, c/Argenteria 37
A well-known restaurant with Old World charm. Friendly, but quick -- almost hasty -- service, presumably an effort to move out the crazy foreigners who begin their dinners at the unholy hour of 9:00 to make room for the locals who begin lining up at 10:00+. In any case, I had my best plate of the entire trip (which included Languedoc-Roussillon): fresh cod beneath a blanket of garlic mousselline atop a bed of creamed spinach. I would've gone back for a second helping another night but we found:
El Barkito, c/Corcega 225
A kind of neighborhood seafood bistro at the edge of the Eixample, where nary a word of English was spoken nor, apparently, understood. Coming from the Midwest, I'm a sucker for fresh fish at a good value and the series of squid (grilled and fried), shrimp (ditto), and turbot (al maresco) we tried over a series of two nights was stunningly fresh and simply but well prepared. The patron and staff were friendly and steered us in the right direction when it appeared our selections were moving into uncharted, out-of-season regions. (Italian came in handy here.)
Bon Vivant, c/Diputacio 280
A darkhorse that we stumbled upon--I'd seen it recommended nowhere--near Passeig de Gracia. About two years old with simple but elegant decor, it proved to be a wonderful place for an upscale lunch. The menu focuses on seafood with some fusion elements, but we stuck with the regional specialties, splitting potato/cheese timbals (floating on a pool of truffle oil and wild mushrooms), tuna medallions (encrusted with pepper and herbs), and squid (stuffed with black sausage), well-worth the 50 eu tab (bottle of wine and water included). We'll be back for dinner on our next visit."