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Jan 28, 2008 06:45 AM

solo female in Barcelona 6 days in Feb

Would appreciate suggestions for dining (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for first time visitor to Barcelona dining alone while husband is at conference. Only speak English, staying by train station (Barcelo Sants?). Read that last few posts and trip reports...any other suggestions? Didn't know if those would work for a single diner. Love great food and wine, don't mind paying for a great meal. Not big on game, love seafood, fresh produce, and would also love recs on cooking classes and wine tours that a solo woman could do. Many thanks!

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    1. Since there is no post, I’ll chime in as a solo male diner who is often in Barcelona for business. I think much of it depends on your comfort level of dining alone where you live or places that you’ve traveled. Unlike Paris, London or other Northern European cities, my observation is that there are very few locals dining alone in Barcelona, especially for dinner. That doesn’t mean that you will be treated badly by the staff but rather how one feels being the only solo diner in the place. I've dined alone in all the places listed below.
      Breakfast should be no problem as most locals just grab a coffee and pastry, usually stand up before heading off to work. There should be many nearby cafes where you’re staying. My favorites places for breakfast are more in the center: Escriba, one on La Rambla and another on Gran Via between c/Agricultura and c/Cantabra has good coffee, excellent breakfast pastries and a relaxing unhurried atmosphere. Café Zurich right on the Placa Catalunya is very popular with tables outside. There is a terrific pastry shop/breakfast counter that has terrific pastries on the second block of Rambla de Catalunya. The name escapes me right now. I also like the simpler Forno de Maure on c/Ferrand. There are also many good cafes on c/Liberateria near Placa de Sant Jaume. If you like something more substantial such as tortilla, the places inside the Boqueria are all very good but they won’t be open until after10am. These informal places are also excellent for lunch though generally very crowded.
      Origen 99.9% is a restaurant and gourmet shop. They are located at Rosellon 154, in the El Born district, just around the corner from Santa Maria del Mar, and a second on Muntaner 409 near the Universtat. It has an eclectic menu that is great for lunch. A terrific wine bar, La Vinya del Senyor, has outdoor tables facing Santa Maria del Mar. Many good wine by the glass as well as good simple tapas, a wonderful spot for a simple lunch and people watching. Couple of good places for the menu del dia are Foxo’s and Goliard.
      There are many terrific restaurants for dinner: Hisop, Cinc Sentits and Sauc are three of my favorites. They are medium price (about 50E before wine) and are in the tablecloth category. The service is informal but excellent and staffs speak some English. Senyor Parellada is a large bustling restaurant serving classic Catalan cooking. It is very popular with tourists and the prices are very reasonable (very few plates more than 10E) and the food decent. Of course you can drop in to any tapa and pinxtos places and grab a glass of wine and a few items. Though I frequently do this, I find being the only solo eater a bit unsatisifying. I usually hit one of the excellent sit down tapa places. Comerc24 and Santa Maria both have counter seating as well as tables. Comerc24 is more expensive and the cooking very modern Catalan. The décor is urban designer. Santa Maria’s menu is very eclectic (some Asian as well as Mediterranean influences) with bold flavors. The décor is industrial chic. One can order a set tapas menu (around 50E at Comerc24 and 35E at Santa Maria) or just a few plates. Another great tapa place is Paco Meralgo (my current favorite), which has counter as well as table seating with a non smoking section. Taller de Tapas is very popular but I don’t find the food to be anything special. There are also many tapa/pinxto places on for few blocks of Passeig de Gracia and La Rambla de Catalunya which most are so so but are fine in a pinch.
      Since the Spanish eat dinner very late, always after 9:00pm, more likely around 10pm, I would make a reservation with your husband after his conference. If you have a specific question, be happy to help.

      1. I spent 4 weeks this past Nov/Dec in Spain, mostly Barcelona. I was there for work and spent most of my weekdays dining with coworkers, but was left to my own devices on the weekend...a female dining alone with very little Spanish skills. The food scene in Barcelona is great, but I will stay it's not the most accomodating for single diners who don't speak Spanish. I'm not afraid to dine alone, but I did feel a little uncomfortable in some places since I was the only one eating alone. That being said, the food was worth it, and I'd do it all over again. I'd even go to the places where nobody spoke long as I'm armed with my phrase book. :) Here are some places where I think you could dine alone without feeling uncomfortable and was English friendly for the most part.
        1) Cal Pep-Seafood tapas: I went with coworkers on a weeknight, but I think it would be good for solo diners since it's counter style. There is no menu. The guys speak Engish there. He will ask you: do you like seafood? meat? any allergies? then the courses will keep coming. Yum! I heard it can be very busy there, but we didn't have issues around 7:30 pm.

        2)Bubo-a great dessert place in El Born. There are two Bubos on the same street. One is a dessert shop/coffee bar. The other serves tapas. I enjoyed my dessert and cafe con leche at Bubo the dessert shop. They also sell many candies and offer samples too!

        3) Pla dels Angels-a decent bargain spot near the MACBA (Modern Art Mueseum) that has salads, pastas, and a few meat items. Servers speak English.

        4)Granja Dulcinea-breakfast of churros and hot chocolate

        5) Merendero de la Mari-for lunch at the port for traditonal Catalan seafood items like fideua, paella, or black rice (Arros negre)

        6) Paco Meralogo-made to order tapas. Sit at the bar and you will feel right at home. Loved the Foie here!!! Cava was nice too!

        Lastly, I did take a cooking class while I was there called Cook and Taste. The class was given in English and lasts about 4 hours. While the dishes were pretty simple to prepare, but tasted very good.

        If you are interested, here are some food photos from my trip:

        Let me know if you have any more questions. Enjoy your trip!

        1 Reply
        1. re: mandyf

          Politely butting in...

          Thanks so much for your reviews and photos! I will be spending a week in Barcelona next month and am already looking forward to eating all these delicious dishes. :)

        2. These are great suggestions, though I am sorry to hear that solo diners are not as common in Barcelona as they are in other places. Still, I am a hound in search of great chow, and determined to have a wonderful and tasty adventure. Many thanks!

          3 Replies
          1. re: gaa

            From my 2 experiences in solo eating in Barcelona, I never had any problem; from cheap tapas bars to upscalish restaurants ( cinc sentits).


            YMMV since I'm a man, as a woman, in most "sit down" restaurants, I dont think you will have a problem, in tapas bars it might be less "enjoyable" but if you stick with established , hmm, establishments, you will not have a problem, even at night.

            my fav. place in Barcelona is Quimet y Quimet, it's off the beaten path, but absolutely worth it.

            1. re: Maximilien

              Thank you...I put that one on my list! I will report on my return. Right now I am trying to arrange for a winery/cava tour, and still waiting to hear a confirmation from a cooking class.

            2. Gaa,
              Try Commerc 24(that is the address, too). Not cheap, lunch and dinner are the same price. If it is crowded, perhaps a problem for a solo diner but lunch is definitely nice. Very good service, menus in Castellano, English and I believe Francais. Tasting menu the way to go.
              Wine selection is very good, especially for the price, as is usually the case in Spain. I am not quite sure if they have a few choices for glasses. Anyway, they are worth it if you don't want a whole bottle yourself. A bit much for a lady, no? Ha.
              Expensive city/country except for the vino, it flows freely and cheaply and well.
              Note, I just walk in but perhaps you would feel more comfortable calling for a reservation.