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May 11, 2007 03:44 PM

Suggestions for N. Portugal, Galicia, & Barcelona?

Two New Yorkers seeking some outstanding, non-touristy restaurant recommendations for a month in in northern Portugal and Galicia, Spain. Also, Barcelona.

We won't have a car, so places that are easy via public transport are appreciated.

No tourist traps (unless they're absolutely delicious) and no overly expensive scene restaurants (is John Malkovich's place in Lisbon really worth our time?) unless they're worth the hype.... Looking for hole-in-the-wall cheap to the upper range of moderate in terms of price.

We seek: good value traditional and regional Portuguese; simple seafood lunches; worthwhile (but not prohibitively expensive) modern and upscale Portuguese; food from former colonies Mozambique/Cape Verde/Angola/Sri Lanka/Goa in the following cities. Good, local, cheapish wine and beer bars are also a plus. :

CITIES: Lisbon, Peniche, Obidos, Coimbra, Porto, Guimarães, Amarante

We seek: good value traditional Gallego; simple seafood lunches; pintxos/tapas; worthwhile (but not prohibitively expensive) modern and upscale Gallego; Basque food. Good, local, cheapish wine and beer bars are also a plus. :

CITIES: Vigo, Santiago..., A Coruña, Cambados, Betanzos, surrounding fishing villages worth seeing

BARCELONA only: We seek: good value traditional Catalan; paella, tapas, simple seafood lunches; worthwhile (but not prohibitively expensive) modern and upscale Catalan; molecular gastronomy joints worth splurging on (obviously, El Bulli is too booked/expensive/hard to get to for us...). Good, local, cheapish wine and beer bars are also a plus.


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  1. Yes please.

    We have a similar itinerary/wish list/budget for late-June this year -- Oporto for 4 nights, Barcelona for 2, Priorat/Penedes, Calatayud, Madrid (for 2), Ribera del Duero and Galicia. But we will have a car...and generally only one night in each spot as we're there for 2 weeks total (I know -- too much travel for two weeks but it worked out this way -- want to make the most of it).

    I really appreciate the previous posts regarding the bigger cities (still deciding on top picks for Barcelona and Madrid and will post again regarding specifics) but haven't heard too much on the rest.

    Genuine chow (and beverage accompaniments) is what we're after! Again, splurges are fine but not necessarily needed every night.


    1. Re: Barcelona. I have spent alot of time there and just got back last month. I have a few recommendations, but really, the best thing to do is walk around the funky neighborhoods (like El Born and Gracia), get lost in the laberynthine streeets and read posted menus and take notes of where to go back. Avoid touristy neighborhoods for good restaurants, because they are traps (Las Ramblas, Barrio Gotico). I suggest one touristy but good place: Els 4 Gats, where Picasso used to hang out in his student days and paid for his food by designing menu covers for them. It is near the top of Puerta del Angel near Corte Ingles ( Another hip and cool place is Cafe Princesa on Carrer Sabateret. Check out their site . I see you mentioned El Bulli, so you don't mind travelling, therefore try "Le Bistrot" in Girona. They have a great "menu del dia" and the food is wonderful! The menu is only written in catalan, with no castellano even! My catalan is ok, so I was fine, just take that caveat. They were packed, so call (972218803). It's a great day trip to Girona, from BCN....take the train from Passeig de Gracia, and there's lots to do (cathedral, churches, walled city, Arab baths, Jewish museum, good shopping). FYI- paella is a dish from Valencia, so you will find good, but not world class paella in BCN. And PS- great and cheap wine abounds in BCN, esp Priorat and Penedes wines! Buen provecho!!

      1. I can help a bit with Galicia, Santiago de Compostela and Cambados, anyway. Santiago is a pretty touristy place, so you won't find too many spots with more locals than tourists - not in the old part of town, anyway. We loved a tapas bar called O Bispo, on Calle Franco 37B (this street has many, many tapas bars on it, some good, some not.) O Bispo has wonderful Pimientos de Padron - little flash fried peppers that you will see everywhere and you will fall in love with them - and lots of fresh seafood they will whisk back to the kitchen and broil for you. There is also a nice wine bar in Santiago, O Beiro, on R/Raina 3, though the food was nothing to write home about. You can find some decent tapas in the tapa bar of the Parador on the main square, and though we didn't have a full dinner there, some diners were tucking into some pretty impressive spreads of seafood. There is also a lovely restaurant in the Parador, that was packed every night we were there... not sure how the food is, maybe someone else can tell you.

        We ate tapas at a few of the other places on Franco, but none were as good as O Bispo.

        In Cambados, there is a little bar that sells their own Albarino called O Casal, on the main street in town - Rua Real 5. We ordered shrimp in garlic sauce and a tortilla, before realizing that a plate of pasta CAME with our drink. For 16 Euro we had all this food and two glasses of wine each. Definitely check it out.

        If you can possibly make it to Pontevedra, there is a lively cafe and tapas scene after 8 or so in and around Praza Lena. Also in Pontevedra - the O Cortello Bar, a most insane and tripped out place where we ate really delicious calamari and Pimientos de Patron.

        This website was very useful to us:

        Definitely print out his Galician food dictionary - we would have been LOST without it. This is also how I found out about the O Cortello bar. You can find the glossary by scrolling to the bottom of this page:

        If you would like to see pictures of Pimientos de Padron and O Bispo, I posted a couple on my blog when I got back from Spain. Here is the link.

        Hope this helps. You will love northern Spain!