barcelona in late november.
i didn't expect this and have never been to spain. deb and i will be staying at the hotel neri which, i'm told, is in the gothic quarter.
i searched the board and read kathryn's magnum opus and plan on printing it out. any other thoughts on the neighborhood? my wife's spanish is serviceable so we are open to getting off the tourist track.
thanks in advance,
Carrer de Petritxol where La Pallaresa located is the street of "hot chocolate". I am not a big fan of it, but the quaint street it is definitely worth a visit for many of the cafes. I love churros and the trick is make sure they are frying them to order rather than let them sit on top of a warmer. That is not always the case. There is a little shop on via Laetana between the Pl. d'Antorni Maura and c/de la Princesa that always have a fresh batch at 4pm. Sadly, take out only no tables.
Barcelona is a wonderful city for food with many variety of eating places: the humblest hole in wall, traditional to high-end modern Catalan cooking, tapas places, pintxo bars, eclectic fusion. There are tons of posts on all the above on this board. Your hotel in the Barri Gotic is well situated for you to explore central Barcelona. There are some wonderful old atmospheric tapas places and Asturian cider bars on this quarter; also some good cafes for hot chocolates and churro and of course the Boqueria. For for other types of Catalan cooking, just wonder over to El Born/Ribera or up to the Eixample and you find many excellent places. Below are a couple of good links to earlier posts. If you can be more specific to budget, ambience, types of food, how long you'll be Barcelona, etc, you'll get some good recommendations. The earlier post of katheryn has some of the best and most reliable restaurants. You can't go wrong with any of them.
Deb and I will be in town for a week. Budget is not an issue. As a rule, we prefer smaller places over bigger places. I'm not averse to donning a jacket and strapping on a tie.
With respect to foods, I would like to concentrate on local specialties. We're pretty confident travelers so getting off the tourist track is not a problem. At the same time, we're not afraid to be tourists. Besides, I don't think I could fool the locals.
Thanks again for your help.
re: steve h.
A week in Barcelona will allow you to explore variety of food. Barcelona is known for their modern Catalan restaurants. Most have been discussed extensively on this board. Good traditional Catalan cooking is more difficult to come by. Most of the older places such as Ca Isidri, Hoffmann, 7-Porte, etc, are a bite tire and dated. The best traditional Catalan meal that I had recently was at La Dama, updated precise cooking using the best ingredients; Fonda Gaig is good, lively and less expensive. Tapa eating is a must. On the lower Barri Gotic on c/Merce and c/Ample are some old atmosphere Galacian (Bar Celtic being the most popular) and Asturian tapas bars, famous for seafood and cider. Others such as Paco Meralgo, Tapac24, Inopia have been written up in many earlier posts. I also like Cat181, much like Comerc24, but not as flashy and less expensive. A comment about Guimet y Guimet is that it is a very small wine bar without any seats (counter and standup) and always packed. No cooking kitchen, nothing is served hot and all their tapas are made from canned seafood, cured meats, cheeses, pantry items such as olives, capers, etc. They use the very best quality. Since the location is a bit out of the way in Poble Sec, one might want to combine it with other nearby tapas places such as La Bodegueta. It makes an excellent lunch spot after visiting the Montjuic. I would also eat pinxtos, the Basque version of tapas, simpler and even less formal. Tons of places have sprung up in the past five years. The good ones are stand up only, therefore, skip the ones with seats, especially those on the beginning of the Passig de Gracia. Two of the best are Taktika Berri (also very good Basque food in the comfortable back dining room) and Ondoa Berri, both in the Eixample. El Born has a branch of Sagrada (large, lively and packed at night for people watching) and Euskal Etxea (crowded, fun, a little rowdy as the night wears on, especially after a few txakoli). If you are looking for small neighborhood places that serve good everyday food: might consider Foxo, Goliard, Can Lluis, La Cova Fumada, Anima where one can have a lunch menu del dia for around 12E or less. Barcelona has great seafood but for some strange reason, does not have many great marisquerias. Couple of good moderate seafood places in El Born are La Paredeta and Mar de la Ribera, also El Barkito in the Eixample. Besides Café Viena for sandwiches, Xaloc and Can Conesa in the Barri Gotic are good.
The best pastry shop without doubt is Escriba with three branches. The most convenient one is on the Rambla. The breakfast pastries are as good as those in France and don’t miss the sweet coca sprinkled with pinenuts.
With seven days and if budget allows, I would make a trip outside of Barcelona to eat at either El Raco de Can Fabes, El Cellar de Can Roca or Hispania. These are three of the best restaurants in all of Spain and each unique in it’s own way. All can be reached easily but train or car. If one is taking the train, lunch would be the option since trains do not run late into the night.
Can Fabes is in tucked away in a non-description town of Sant Celoni, about 40 minutes by train from Barcelona. The cooking of Chef Santimaria is unique in that among all the Michelin 3-star restaurants in Spain, he is the only chef not using molecular techniques. He uses the best ingredients and each dish has balance, depth of flavor, refinement and always excellent; not always the case in most top restaurants in Spain. Wonderful foie gras, wild mushrooms, probably some truffles in November, baby squid and cigales, pastilla of squab. The service is formal but not stuffy, understated and low key. If food is the only criteria and budget is not an issue, I would choose this restaurant over all others.
On the opposite end is El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, a beautiful medieval town about an hour from Barcelona. The restaurant is less formal and more lively than Can Fabes. The cooking is closest to El Bulli but the menu structure is different. Unlike El Bulli, where a meal is a long series of small tastings, each course at Can Roca is more fully realized. Not every course is consistently great but most are, especially any preparations of oysters, foie gras, shellfish, smoked tuna, goat, suckling pig, pigeon. Wonderful desserts.
If I am looking for traditional Catalan cook using the best local ingredients, I would head for Hispania. Amazing tasting vegetables, the best seafood and meat, raise especially for the restaurant. The interior is a wonderful combination of a traditional old house and modern additions.