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Mar 7, 2010 11:07 AM

4 days in BCN - need help with budget eating plan for 3

Hi all,

I am taking my parents to Barcelona for the very first time in March on a tight budget. To save money but still have a full belly, our plan of attack is to have the menu del dia for lunch and a light meal at a good tapas bar for dinner to keep the daily food spending under $100(the cheaper the better). We don't really care about the decor but would prefer to have a table. It's all about the food(oh well, and the price). We'll be staying near plaza Cataluna for 4 days and have planned the following itinerary:

Day 1 (Fri)
Lunch: Anima - Menu Del Dia
Dinner: Mercat de la Boqueria

Day 2 (Sat)
L: Sant Joan - Menu Del Dia
D: Romesco

Day 3(Sun)
D: Paco Meralgo

Day 4 (Mon)
L: La Fonda - Menu Del Dia
D: Maitea

Ad you can see, I still need suggestions for cheap breakfast and a place for lunch on sunday, is there a restaurant that offers a menu del dia on sunday? My choices above include some of the chowhound favoites, some are less well-known that I came across on random travel websites and blogs. I'm wondering if these are decent choice and if I should substitute any of the above with the following or other places I haven't put down/considered.

Ciudad Condal
Meson David
La Taverna Catalana
La Rita
Cerveceria Catalana
Kiosko Universal

P.S: While I've never been to BCN, I was in MAD last November And thanks to Chowhound, I've thoroughly enjoyed my meals at Maceiras, Casa Mingo, Cerveceria Cervantes, La Finca de Susana, and El Tempranillo, etc. However, my favorite was La Fragua de Vulcano near plaza Santa Ana due to its incredible price and solid food. So I'm not hard to please and don't mind having tapas for 1 week straight, as long as it tastes good and is priced right.

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  1. The Boqueria closes around 7pm. It is not a dinner place.
    But it is definitely a fun lunch place… if you arrive early, at around 12. All the eateries are in counter-style. The seats are much coveted, often with people waiting behind seated diners during peak hours. Especially if there are 3 of you, you must get there early.

    Ditto Cerveceria Catalana. It has good food but gets mobbed at peak lunch time.

    An attracitve funky place near the Gaudi houses in Eixample that has reasonably-priced simiple good lunches - no stratospheric revelation - is La Bodegueta on Rambla de Catalunya 100.

    A very good tapas place - more of a snacky place than a real meal place - in the old town is Bilbao Berria, on plaza de la. Catedral, right next to the old cathedral. One would think that such a touristy place would have dumb touristy food, but noooo, the tapas are surprisingly good. And for a tapas place, it is relatively comfortable. At least you can sit down and do not need to crowd around the counter standing, like my other fave tapas place in the old town Euskal Etxea on Montcada a few doors down from the Picasso museum.

    1. As Parigi states, the Boqueria closes at 7pm but most of the eating kiosks closes by 5pm, therefore, it is not a dinner option. It is especially good for a substantial late breakfast which can be hard to find in Barcelona. Many of the best tapas/pintxos places have no tables though many will have a few stools. If one is patient and a little persistent, it is possible to secure them and have somewhat of a comfortable ambience though crowded: try Taktika Berri, Euskal Etxea, El Xampanyet. Convent dels Angels and Bar del Pi in the Barri Gotic have a few tables in the back. The menu del is a good idea for lunch but there are down home restaurants that one can eat within your budget for dinner. Some my favorites: Foxos, Goliard, Anima, Can Mano, La Cova Fumada, the last two in Barceloneta. Also El Barkito and La Paradeta are two very reliable seafood places. In El Ravel, skip Meson David (not good at all) and go to Can Luis for the menu del dia and also good for dinner. Cerverseria Catalana, Cuidal Condal, Txakolin are fine. Have not been to the others on your list. Paco Meralgo is excellent but it will probably stretch your budget. $100 per day for three is pretty tight. Breakfast is a simple elaborate affair consist of pastries and coffee, and there are nearby cafes everywhere. Stand up for would be around 2.5 E, little more for sitting. For some of the best breakfast pastries and coffee: Escriba on La Rambla, Forn de Sant Jaume on Rambla Catalunya, Forn al Maure on c/Ferrand with lots of tables. For breakfast of churro, there are many cafes on c/Petritxol in the Barri Gotic. A general suggestion is to pick an area, ie, Barri Gotic, El Born, El Ravel, Eixample to spend the evening eating and strolling. Keep in mind that lunch starts at 1pm and dinner at 9pm. Even the most informal restaurants will not serve before then. Tapas and pintxos places are exceptions. For more ideas, search this board for earlier posts.

      9 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        Thanks all for the info and suggestions. I'm not really going to have dinner at Mercat de la Boqueria. But since we get in early that day, I thought it will be a good idea to have a nice lunch, buy some munchies at the market(I suppose they'll have some, right?), and call it a day, so we can get enough rest for all the touristy things the next day. Is this feasible? After considering your recommendations and some more googling, I have revised the plan as follows.

        Day 1 (Fri)
        Lunch: Anima - Menu Del Dia
        Afternoon visit for Dinner munchies: Mercat de la Boqueria

        Day 2 (Sat)
        L: Sant Joan - Menu Del Dia
        D: Romesco

        Day 3(Sun) - Day to splurge
        L: La Fonda - Does anyone know if they have a menu del dia on Sunday or any place that does?
        D: Paco Meralgo

        Day 4 (Mon)
        L: Can Lluis - Menu Del Dia
        D: OPEN

        I see that alot of restaurants don't open on sundays. For the one that does, It looks like the Menu del dia is only offered from Mon-Sat. Does anyone know a good spot for sunday lunch? I also have monday dinner open as I haven't quite made up my mind on which place to go yet. There are so many great restaurants and recommendations, yet so little time and money for me to get to all of them. If there's one budget meal I should absolutely have in BCN, where would it be?

        1. re: gac101

          If you want to go to Boqueria after lunch, I would hurry because the best shops close early and you'll get stuck with the overpriced, low quality crap.

          Also, don't count on all places to be open for lunch at 1pm. Spaniards have their comida at 2pm or 2:30pm and a lot of places don't offer the lunch menu before 1:30pm. And I don't think Sant-Joan has a menu del dia. If memory serves me right it's à-la-carte, but the prices are quite reasonable.

          1. re: SnackHappy

            Oh really? I think I read somewhere that Sant Joan serves a 3 course set lunch from Mon-Sat for a little more than $10 Euro. Would you recommend the food regardless? As for La Boqueria, I just want to squeeze it in our itinerary early as I'm afraid we won't be able to get to it later in our trip. If we couldn't get our hands on anything good, we'll probably go to one of the tapa bars recommended by Parigi/PBSF provided that we are hungry and not tired as dogs.

            P.S: Stil need recs for sunday lunch and one more budget weekday dinner.

          2. re: gac101

            Menu del dia can be a good deal but it also can be boring; and no choices can be a drag if there is a course that is unappealing. Generally, the menu del dia is offered Monday to Friday and some also Saturdays. It is menat for working Barcelonians. The above poster is correct about Sant Joan. It is ok to plan all the lunches but be somewhat flexible; for example, if you are in the Sagrada Familia, it would be a trek to try to get to Anima or Can Lluis both in El Ravel. For Sunday lunch, some tapas/pintxo places will be open; Cuital Comtal, Cerverseria Catalana, Sagrada and most places in Barceloneta where it is the most lively on that afternoon. I don't think La Fonda serves lunch at all.
            If I were on a tight budget, I would have picnics as my midday meal; buy bread, cured meat, cheeses, fruit, even paella at the various mercat and wine and go up to Parc Guell, the Montjuic (two must visit sites), the beaches at Barceloneta, Parc de la Ciutadella, even at Placa de Catalunya. This will leaves you with a good budget for dinner.

            1. re: PBSF

              May I also add that, unless the OP lives near it, Paco Meralgo is also more suited for lunch. The neighborhood is dead at night. It is quite a boring schlep to get there.

              1. re: Parigi

                Good suggestion guys. I'm feeling my plan is a bit too packed. I should leave myself open to places I stumble upon that looks interesting. Okay, so if I have to choose 3 meals out of the following places, which ones should I take over the others and why? Each one of them has a wide following, I just cannot decide on my own. Thanks again.

                La Fonda
                Can Lluis
                Sant Joan
                Paco Meralgo

                1. re: gac101

                  Excuse me, maybe you are starting to micro-manage. Why not keep all 5 on your list and choose the restaurants according to their nearness to your visits?

                  1. re: gac101

                    I agree with Parigi to leave things open. Paco Meralgo stands out because it has the better food, better ingredients, wider selections, nicer atmosphere but one is also paying more. I have not been to La Fonda and none of my Barcelona friends have ever mentioned it as anything special. As for the other three, just flip a coin. Don't set your expectation too high as they are inexpensive and pretty much what everyday Catalan food is all about. None of them will wow you. Enjoy your visit.

              2. re: gac101

                Sunday lunch - Jabali - C/ Aldana, 10 - moderately priced, great sandwiches, tapas, etc...perfect for a Sunday lunch (and you can eat outside!)