Eek! Only 2 nights in Barcelona...where must we dine?
Date: 05/23/2006, 09:21 pm
Hi Fellow Foodies,
We will be rounding out our July trip to Spain for the San Fermin (running of the bulls) fiestas and Ibiza with only two nights in Barcelona. Unfortunately, we will be in town on a Sunday/Monday, which means our dinner options will be limited.
We are very big foodies and are salivating for some great Nuevo Cocina. We probably would have opted for Commerc24, but alas, it is closed both nights.
Can anyone help me decide on the must-do restaurant for those two nights (assuming they would be open of course). The ones I'm considering right now are:
We're in our early 30s and are looking for equal parts great food and atmosphere.
Also, is Cal Pep an absolute must-do for tapas? Does anyone know how it compares to Quimet i Quimet, Taller de Tapas?
re: Das Ubergeek
re: Das Ubergeek
Taller de Tapas has a more rounded selection of dishes and wines than Cal Pep and I certainly wouldn´t say it´s more expensive. The quality of food is really good and there´s a lively atmosphere plus tables outside. Cal Pep is obviously a classic (which Taller is on it´s way to becoming) , and worth the queue. Quimet y Quimet is good fun, but certainly not comfortable (no chairs). Still, it serves very tasty little morsels, all, in the catalan tradition, served out of tins (though very good quality ones...).
I would skip Taller de Tapas. We got stuck eating there on our first night (Sunday) and were really disappointed. Nothing was memorable. Cinc Sentits was very good, but it's more of a modern restaurant, which some feel looks more like it should be in NY than Barcelona. Didn't bother me at all; I'm just looking for good food. If you go with the tasting menu, ask to substitute in the suckling pig -- delicious. Cal Pep was good, but not a must-do for me. Unfortunately, I missed Quimet i Quimet as we ate at Cinc Sentits for lunch and Cal Pep for dinner on Tues. (our other two days in Barcelona were Sunday and Monday, May 1, a holiday, and most places were closed those two days). I've heard such good things about Quimet i Quimet, if I were you, I'd definitely include it!
I dont think any of the Nuevo Cocina restaurants that you mentioned are open Sunday night, though, Moo might be. I had dinner there about a year ago. Not bad, but a pale comparison to Roca brothers restaurant in Girona where I had two of the best meals.
I wrote about Cinc Sentits and Alkimia on couple of earlier posts. You can stroll down or search for them, though, Cinc Sentits is closed Sunday all day and Monday evenings.
For modern Catalan food in Barcelona, the best meal I had was at Abac, though it is more expensive than the others (tasting menu about 85E).
Hisop is highly recommended to me by someone who really knows Spain.
Most of the above restaurants are small, have modern minimalist décor and friendly informal service.
Quimet y Quimet: love the place, small, friendly and very crowded. Has more of the traditional tapas bar feel then the other two. The menu is somewhat limited but the ingredients are top notch: great cheeses, slice meats, marinated fish and vegetables on bread, excellent wines. Lunch or afternoon would be great but I am not sure you want to make it the whole evening's meal. The location is somewhat out of the way for tapas bar hopping.
Cal Pep: I think it gets more write up than for what it really is, a long counter where one eats sitting elbow to elbow, while people standing behind you anxiously waiting for a seat. This is more of a restaurant, then for tapas. The excellent seafood is simply prepared and the prices are high but not out of line. No menu and but waiters are terriic. It has become a cult restaurant among visitors.
Taller de Tapas: huge tapas list that has something for everyone. It has a feel of a small plate restaurant that has been sprouting up everywhere in San Francisco, NYC, etc. The food is nothing special but the people watching is fun. One can do worst on a Sunday night.
Tapas places open on Sunday evening that I like:
Paco Meralgo, c/Muntaner 171, 93 430 90 27
Bar del Pi, Placa Sant Josep Oriol 1, old style tapas bar
La Vinya Del Senyor, pl Santa Maria 5, opposite Santa Maria del Mar, a great wine bar and outside seating with a few excellent tapas
La Cerveseria Catalana, Carrer de Mallorca 236, 93 216 03 68
I would do tapas hopping on Sunday and a restaurant on Monday. Have fun.
Thanks for the great input! I will search for your Cinc Sentits and Alkimia reviews. I was all set to do CS for lunch on Monday (since it's not open Sunday all day or Mon. dinner) and Cal Pep for Mon. dinner since it's the only time it's open while we're in town. Now I'm wondering if I should do a second splurge on Mon. night at one of the other Nuevo Cocina spots (Abac, Hisop, etc.). Unfortunately none of those are open on Sunday, as you noted. So do you consider Abac a must-do? I think it's between Abac and Hisop if I were to hit another one of those.
I love the idea of doing tapas hopping on Sunday. I was thinking of starting at CheeseMe in the Born at noon or so...(we LOVE Spanish cheese...well, cheese in general)...head over to the Barceloneta for Sunday paella-by-sea at either Can Majo or Kaiku (Any preferences there? I hear the latter supposed to fab.)
Then hit Jamonisimo and Cacao Sampaka (or maybe save that for the next day? I of course have no idea where these are located so I'm sure I'll have to rethink my strategy.
Then on to the tapas hopping...La Vinya, unfortunately I saw somewhere that Quimet i Quimet is closed on Sun./Mon. I've read that Tatika Berri is supposed to be good...any thoughts? Sigh - too much good eating to fit into two days.
Unlike Madrid where the many tapas bars are clustered around certain areas, the good tapas/pintxos places are more scattered about in Barcelona. There are many in the Barri Gotic/ El Born, some are good while many simply cater to visitors. There are a few around Gracia, a few further toward the Eixample. This makes for a very long walk but do-able. Many are open until late afternoon on Sundays. Takiki Berri, in the Eixample, serves some of the best pintxos in Barcelona but I think it is close on Sundays.
CheeseMe has good cheese tastings, great designs and plus it is located on a peaceful placa in one of the liveliest street, c/Argenteria, in El Born. On the same placa is Euskal-Extxea that serves good pintxos. Down the same street is La Vinya. Just a short work is Barceloneta and the harbor, which are great on a Sunday. Can Majo has good paellas but I like their simpler Catalan arroz better. Never been to Kaiku but Merendero dela Mari is also good.
If you make it up to Cocoa Sampaka and Jamonisimo in the Eixample, try to stop by at Cremeria Toscana, c/Muntaner 161, for some excellent ice cream.
I dont know if Abac is a must, but it would be my first choice in Barcelona for modern Catalan cooking primary because it is a more ambitious restaurant and not necessarily that the food is so much better. It is also more expensive than Cenc Sentits or Hisop. Depending on what your dining capacity and experience are, but it would be inconceivable for me to eat a lunch at Cinc Sentits then evening at Abac. Their cooking styles are too similar and the amount of food would be overwhelming. If you order tasting menus at both places, this would mean a total of about 15 course and 5 to 6 hours of serious eating. Unless youre tire of sight seeing or have previously been to Barcelona, it would be a shame not to see some sights and experience a little of this great city. But then we all have our priorities. If you have specific questions or need logistic help and not want to bore the rest of the readers, can send me an email.
FYI I took your suggestion this September when I went to Spain on vacation. CheeseMe was great. We order a Spanish cheese sampler and this pear wrap cheese concoction which was wrapped in deliciously fresh pasta. There was only two of us so we couldn't finish everything--that was a SERIOUS cheese plate, not like the little scrips of cheese you get on cheese plates where I'm from in the US.
I just returned from Barcelona a few weeks ago and had a fabulous dining experience at Cinc Sentits. While we did not do the tasting menu (since I'm allergic to certain foods), we later learned that the chef is willing to substitute dishes to meet any dietary restrictions. Our entire group enjoyed the meal and would definitely return.
Cal Pep is great but it is not really a tapas bar. Go there for plates of excellent seafood with classical catalan preparation. I am partial to any place where you can sit at a counter and watch my food cooked so I love this place. Cal Pepe also has a formal (and much more expensive) dining room in the back for sit-down dinners.
I also love Kiosko Universal in the Boqueria for lunch. They have a menu for under 11 euros. For primero, get the grilled vegetables...delicious plate of grilled sweet red peppers, setas, asparagus and eggplant with sprinkles of course sea salt on top. For secondo, they have a beautiful assortments of fresh fish that you can look at. Just point to it and they will grill it in front of you. For postre, ok, it's not that memorable but there is always a fruit option. All the ingredients come from the market so you know everything is fresh. Plus, you get to eat in the boqueria which is a wonder in itself.
For an affordable take on modern catalan cuisine, I'd go to Petra which is in the Born and next to Santa Maria del Mar. The decor is playful modernist; chandeliers made of forks and spoons and wine bottles menus. They take very traditional catalan dishes like bacalao (cod) and chickpeas salad and turn it into something new and delicious. All dishes are around 6-7 euros so it is really affordable. And they have the most intense chocolate dessert ever....
Just returned from our trip to Pamplona/San Sebastian, Ibiza, and Barcelona...it was an eating extravaganza! We took extensive pics everywhere we dined which includes:
La Cuchara de San Telmo
Patio de Ramunxto
Las Dos Lunas
Plaza del Sol
You can check out my photojournal at: http://traveldiva.marsik.org/spain200...
i am thoroughly impressed with the amount you got done in such a short amount of time! i'm going to barcelona next weekend, and a have a few questions... i was planning on hitting up all the places on your list, minus arola (i've also got bubo on my list as well!).
did you get the small omakase or more expensive tasting menu at cinc sentit? thanks to your pics i've added vila vinateca to my list :) can you buy cheese and wine tastings there? and finally, were you able to smuggle back the jamon? :)
Ooh, sorry for the late reply. Yes, I still have sweet dreams about Barcelona. :) We had the small omakase at cinc sentits, and it was heavenly. Vila Vinateca is a fantastic spot and we did do a cheese and wine tasting there. VV was actually the place we got our smuggled jamon bellota from. They will vacuum seal it with it for you in smaller portions and everything! No problems at customs (just make sure it's fairly well hidden). I think the customs officer took one look at our 20-hour travel weary faces and took pity on us.
One restaurant hot spot we didn't get to that I would try if we could have was Carlos Abellan's Commerc24. If you do catch this post and get to try it, let me know how it goes.
Happy eating and would love to see your pics when you return!