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Eek! Only 2 nights in Barcelona...where must we dine?

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Author: TravelDiva
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:

Cinc Sentits
Hisop
Alkimia
Moo
Arola
Restaurant Coure

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?

Thanks!
TravelDiva

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  1. I haven't been to Quimet i Quimet, but Cal Pep has better-quality food than Taller de Tapas. (Taller de Tapas is still quite good, but it's more expensive... easier to get into, though.)

    3 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      We were thrilled by Cal Pep, much happier than at the fancy places written up in travel magazines. In fact, we returned to Cal Pep the next night. No reservations so go early to avoid the lines

      1. re: sybil

        Taller de Tapas is a classic and the food is unbeatable. Cal Pep is very tasty. Some of the dodgy bars on the c/ Merce are also good. Avoid eating on the Ramblas.

      2. 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...).

      3. 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!

        1. I don’t 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.

          6 Replies
          1. re: PB

            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.

            1. re: TravelDIVA

              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 don’t 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 you’re 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.

              1. re: PB

                I went to the Cheese Me website (www.cheeseme.org) and the menu was making me drool. I'll be in Barcelona in September and will report back w/ reviews on this place.. I'm huge on cheese!

                1. re: PB

                  Is Cremeria Toscana a gelato place , or more traditional ice cream?

                  1. re: kel

                    not sure what you mean. Gelato IS traditional ice cream....

                2. re: TravelDIVA

                  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.

              2. 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.

                Link: http://www.nyrestaurantvideos.com/nyr...

                1. Did you go yet, because there is some amazing food on Ibiza.

                  Las Dos Lunas for Italian.

                  Can Salinas for Fideua or Paella, maybe the best in Spain.

                  El Faro for seafood.

                  And many others.