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Cheap Eats in Catalonia

mstinawu Mar 28, 2007 11:38 AM

Some friends and I are going to El Bulli at the end of September so this means—travel in Spain! Yay! I’ve never been before and I’d like any suggestions on any “non-tourist trap” tapas bars or cheap, delicious restaurants in the Catalonia area. I will be there for two weeks and visiting some of these cities in the Catalonia area of Spain:

Barcelona
Girona
Roses
Figueres
Besalu
Olot
Vic
Tarragona

Also, I’ll be in Spain—so anyone know where the best place for a seafood paella in the Catalonia area is?

Also, someone mentioned El Rey Del a Gamba in Barcelona for paella. Any other votes on that place?

  1. shiromaguro Mar 29, 2007 09:51 AM

    Congrats on getting reservations and you'll love Catalonia for sure.

    To me, El Rey de la Gamba is a bit of a tourist trap, as it it's on Joan de Borbo (main Barceloneta drag). If I recall, it has its menus translated into every language imaginable, never a good sign in my opinion. I have a secret place for paella that I will only share with Chowhounders and I hope does not get overrun: it's called Can Ros and it's straight up authentic. It's about a block away from Joan de Borbo but you need to venture into the neighbohood rather than staying on that beaten path. Address: Almirall Aixada 7.

    As far as other parts of Catalonia, this site is good:

    http://www.eatcatalunya.com/cities-and-towns/cities-and-towns.html

    I mentioned their BCN tapas recommendations in another post:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/362514

    And their Tarragona recs on yet another:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/379705

    They have a restaurant directory too but it must be under construction as there's no editorial, just listings.

    11 Replies
    1. re: shiromaguro
      v
      vioredum Apr 2, 2007 01:58 AM

      Ferran Adria's brother has opened a really interesting bar in Barcelona called "Inòpia" (Carrer de Tamarit 104) that is worth the visit.

      You'll love "El Bulli".Enjoy your stay here in Spain!

      1. re: shiromaguro
        s
        sd232 Apr 13, 2007 02:39 PM

        I second the Can Ros assessment. I went there last week and it was revelatory. We ordered the razor clams and the arroz negro to share. Amazing. They must have a giant bucket of squid ink b/c that rice was as black as coal! We also had the stuffed mussels and the catalan salad, which were excellent. We polished off a carafe of the sangria de cava and it was plenty for 2 people. Go a little early and make a reservation--the guy at the front speaks fluent English. We got there at 8.30 one night and he told us to come back in an hour. We decided to make a reservation for the next night instead of waiting.

        Unbelievably, we came across Can Ros by happenstance, our self-catered apartment was on C/de Sant Miquel, less than a block away. We walked by one day and thought it looked interesting. This was one of our favorite meals in BCN, along with Cal Pep, which, despite being touristy, actually is all it's cracked up to be. You must sit at the bar, not in the back. Order a bottle of wine--it will be the cheapest thing you order. Take whatever they throw at you--it will be amazing. We got six tapas to share and we were stuffed (not to mention drunk) by the end.

        We also went to Botafumeiro in Gracia. I thought the food was great--the appetizers (crispy fried artichokes) and the desserts were great--they actually gave us a free dessert, too. I ordered the charcoal grilled bream--it was great, the fish was cooked perfectly, but the presentation was a little off. We had the best service there of any restaurant we went to in BCN, though, so that was kind of nice.

        1. re: sd232
          s
          saticoy Apr 13, 2007 03:32 PM

          What does dinner for two at Can Ros cost, approximately?

          1. re: saticoy
            shiromaguro Apr 13, 2007 04:55 PM

            I haven't been since last year, but I'd say around 50 euros when you order the high-end stuff like arros negre or paella. I got an order of pa amb tomaquet and some mussels with my paella as well if I remember correctly.

            The mariscada is the most expensive thing on the menu, at about 40 euros but it serves 2. The lunch time prix fixe is only about 12 euros, but don't expect to see the same variety that you'd get from the full menu or at dinner.

            1. re: shiromaguro
              mstinawu Apr 13, 2007 05:22 PM

              50 euros for one person? That doesn't really fall under the "cheap eats" category for me, but I will take a couple meals where I can splurge here and there. ~_^

              1. re: mstinawu
                s
                saticoy Apr 13, 2007 05:54 PM

                It has been difficult, in combing the board and posting, to get specific recs for "affordable" chowhound fare in Barcelona. I got a great response to my request:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/389443

                I found a couple of topics with a smattering of specific recs:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/259508

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/266660

                I cant remember where someone said to look for mom and pop places with a "menu del dia" sign in the window - seems like that would be a good way to get a fresh local meal....if you (we) are lucky!

                So, I'm thinking the Boqueria and tapas bar hopping are going to be the bulk of my non-splurge meals. Of course, MYsplurge isn't El Bulli - I'm jealous...someday....I would probably subsist on bread and cheese for that one! Have a great time...

                1. re: mstinawu
                  shiromaguro Apr 14, 2007 10:37 AM

                  um...the the question was "what does dinner for two cost?" and the answer was "50 euros"...meaning for two people.

                  1. re: shiromaguro
                    s
                    saticoy Apr 14, 2007 02:52 PM

                    Shiromaguro - I appreciate your recommendations and information - here and in all you other posts i have read!! I'm afraid I was only responding to the "cheap eats" part of mstinawu's message....sometimes I am guilty of not reading back far enough - even when I have posted....we are going to be on a pretty harsh budget, and since we want to splurge at Passadis del Pep, I'm afraid the rest will be much, much less expensive (I'm afraid 50 euros, even for two, isn't quite in the range I'm seeking), ....and I'm not finding a lot of "cheap eats" recs on the Chowhound board. I'm looking, like mstinawu, for cheap (I mean cheap!) and delicious.

                    1. re: saticoy
                      shiromaguro Apr 14, 2007 08:42 PM

                      okay...pulling out the secret stuff now. there's a lot of cheap eating to be had in gracia (the barrio, not the street) due to the abundance of starving artist residents in the neighborhood. when i was a starving student, i'd go get my uber traditional catalan cheap eats at:

                      La Taina
                      Calle Francisco Giner, 54

                      The specialty is "cuina de mercat" (market fare) and fire roasted meats and vegetables, Catalan sausages, calcots (when in season).

                      If you go on the right day, there's paella for lunch. I think the lunch menu was 9 euros last time I went.

                      I took my mom for dinner last winter and the check was about 20 euros, having left stuffed.

                      It's very mom and pop, so informal about when they are open. I'd combine this with a trip that you would already make to Gracia rather than going out of your way.

                      1. re: shiromaguro
                        s
                        saticoy Apr 15, 2007 11:43 AM

                        THANK YOU! "uber traditional catalan cheap eats" - I'm THERE! Thanks a million...

          2. re: shiromaguro
            mstinawu Sep 28, 2007 12:05 PM

            Just came back from my trip to Catalonia. I went to Can Ros in Girona--thank you so much for the suggestion! Even my vegetarian friend really enjoyed her risotto there. I had the snails and Iberian ham dish though I don't remember what the "official" name was, but it was really good.

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