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Looking for San Sebastian & Barcelona Suggestions

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We are making our third trip to Spain in a few months and I'm working on the dining agenda. Recaps of our last trip are here ->

http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/se...

(There are also several threads scattered on this board).

This time around, we will have four days in San Sebastian, and a total of three days in Barcelona (with a side trip to Roses - which, I will admit, is about as obnoxiously unsubtle as those Harvard grads who say they went to school "in Cambridge").

We have already booked a dinner at Arzak (2nd visit) and a lunch at Etxebarri (1st visit). We will spend at least one evening doing a pintxos crawl, so I am looking to plan 1, possibly 2, other dinners in SS (pintxos crawl may follow lunch at Etxebarri). I'm thinking one more traditional dinner and, possibly, one more contemporary dinner. For the latter, I am leaning strongly toward Mugaritz assuming it has reopened by September. We did Akelare on our last trip, and though I enjoyed it, I'd sooner try something else than go back.

For the SS phase of our trip, I would welcome:
- Someone trying to talk me into Martin Beresategui (or somewhere else) instead of Mugaritz for another contemporary dinner; or not.
- Suggestions for a more traditional Basque meal. In the mix: Elkano; Zuberoa; Fagollaga; Bodegon Alejandro (?) Don't see these places mentioned much (or at all) on this board.
- Suggestions for new & good pintxos in SS. For what it's worth, I loved Aloña Berri, and also really enjoyed Casa Senra and Bar Bergara. I was not as impressed with Cuchara de San Telmo as others appear to be, though perhaps I ordered poorly.

As for Barcelona, we don't have any reservations yet. Though none were disappointing, I have yet to have a truly knock-your-socks off meal in BCN. Prior visits have included Dos Palillos, Moo, Paco Meralgo, Roig Robi, Cuines Sta. Caterina, and others I sadly no longer recall.

Considering some of the "bistronomic" type places - Gresca, Cinc Sentits, Semproniana. Have never been to Cal Pep, fearing it to be something of a tourist trap (though perhaps that fear is misplaced). Inopia is also on my list, as is Tapac 24. Anyone have any recent insights on Koy Shunka? Also need to factor into the mix that one of our nights in BCN is a Monday, which limits the options.

Help me find a knock-out meal in Barcelona?

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  1. Hi there,

    I just moved to Barcelona a few months ago from Madrid- I'll ask around and find out where the locals think is best and report back... One place I've been really wanting to try is Carme Ruscalleda's restaurant Sant Pau in San Pol de Mar (you can get there in a short time on the train from Barcelona). It is supposed to be excellent. Also, Can Fabes...

    1. "Fagollaga; Bodegon Alejandro (?) Don't see these places mentioned much (or at all) on this board."

      Is Fagollaga the same as Fagoaga? Am huge fan. Go for it.
      I also had a very nice meal at Bodegon Alejandro. It is a good restful kind of meal between two starred pigouts.

      "Suggestions for new & good pintxos in SS."

      Astelena, Ganbara, Tamboril, San Telmo (do give it another chance). All in the old town.
      The following thread has good ideas re where to go and what to order:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7033...
      What stood out in my memory was: pulpo with cabbage + foie + croquetas with beef cheek in San Telmo, chipis and frog legs at Astelana, pimiento relleno in Tamboril.

      "Have never been to Cal Pep, fearing it to be something of a tourist trap (though perhaps that fear is misplaced)."

      That fear is misplaced. Last time we were there, we sat between a French couple and a Spanish family. We ended up sharing all our food. Uproarious fun.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Parigi

        "Is Fagollaga the same as Fagoaga?" Here's what I know:
        http://www.fagollaga.com/

        Seems Cal Pep may be in consideration for Monday dinner in Barcelona, as their website indicates they're open Monday.

        I have been thinking about taking a day (and night) in Girona on the way to Roses which would make Sant Pau, Can Fabes and Celler de Can Roca even more geographically desirable.

        1. re: Frodnesor

          "Seems Cal Pep may be in consideration for Monday dinner"

          To avoid queuing, arrive shortly before 8pm for dinner, or shortly before 1pm for lunch.

          Yes absolutely do Girona.

          1. re: Parigi

            Update - at Cal Pep arrive at about 7;15 - they now open at 7:30 (at least they did when we were there on a Monday in April). People arriving at 7:30 had to wait until the first 'turnover'.
            Also, reservations are already being taken at Mugaritz.

            And both Gresca and Sant Pau recently entered my top 10 meals of all time (knocking out Etxeberri).

            1. re: estufarian

              "Update - at Cal Pep arrive at about 7;15 - they now open at 7:30 (at least they did when we were there on a Monday in April)."

              Thanx for this update. 7:15 ? For Barcelonians, that's like gothic-geezer early-bird hour ! Often I see people finishing their lunch at around 5 something.

      2. I was just in Barcelona last week (full report still to come) and I thoroughly enjoyed all my meals at Inopia, Cerveceria Catalana, and Cal Pep so I would recommend any of those three. Inopia is closed on Mondays though. If you show up early, you shouldn't have trouble getting a table (we easily got one around 7:45pm at Inopia), but if you come in at the usual Spanish dining hours it will be tough. We went to Cal Pep around 9:50pm and got seated close to 11pm...I thought it was definitely worth the wait though, especially if you like seafood...highly recommend their bacalao!

        1. For a more traditional Basque meal, I strongly recommend Casa Nicolasa: alubias, chipirones, kokotxas, merluza Goierri, txangurro, cheese from Idiazábal…
          http://www.casanicolasa.es/

          2 Replies
          1. re: JuanDoe

            Re: Koy Shunka.

            I too was wondering about this place but remain undecided (if you searched on CH, you would have found only this post:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5208...

            There's a 60 Euro tasting menu and perhaps you've read the NY Times review. I love Japanese food (from 4 years living in Japan) - both traditional as well as evolved - but as you have mentioned in your Miami blog, North Americans seem to be ahead of the game when it comes to their experience with Japanese cuisine. And in Miami, I would wager to guess that you have restaurants that combine super-fresh seafood, Japanese technique and the flavours of Cuba. (if yes, pls do recommend one becuz one day I hope to spend some time in Miami!). So what it boils down to is this: is the Koy Shunka experience something you can find in your hometown and for less than 60 Euros?

            Pictures of the tasting menu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/encantad...

            Link to the restaurant website: http://www.koyshunka.com

            1. re: Aleta

              My 12 year old daughter asked if we were going to have sushi in Barcelona and I told her it is unlikely because from what I have read Sushi is not one of fortes and that we can get better for less in NYC.

              That being said if we happen to find ourselves dining at Cuines de Santa Caterina I think I will let her get a couple of rolls! :-)

          2. I have not found any restaurant in Barcelona that has delivered a 'knock-out' meal, not at the level of of Aklelare, Arzak, etc. What I've enjoyed are many good to excellent meals in more modest places such as Sauc, Cinc Sentits, Hisop, Gresca. These are not money is no-object 3 star-places that can knock your sock off but are scaled down modest restaurants. The cooking has a high standard and the cost is less than half of what would pay at any of the 3 star Michelin. Right now, I don't think the highly regarded Abac or Drolma are at it's best. From my limited experience, hotels restaurant that have attracted high profile chefs such as Moo, Arola, Lassarte are just shadow of their flapship places. And if one wishes 3 star, the area around Barcelona has those. And there is Hispania, rustic yet with cooking and ingredients that can match any.
            Although not a knock-out meal, I had an excellent diner at La Dama last year. The cooking is traditional Catalan and the ingredients are excellent. This type of restaurant is rare as many of the high-end traditional Catalan such as Ca I'sidre (I include Botafumeiro though it is seafood) are tired and seems to be stuck in time. This is a reason the recently opened Fonda Gaig is so welcoming. Not knock out but good traditional Catalan cooking combined with a lively fun ambience.
            I distinguish 'tourist trap' from restaurants that attracts a lot of tourists. Tourist traps are places that attract visitors because of location and/or name sake and have no regard to the quality of the cooking. Many good restaurants attract a high percentage of tourists yet deliver excellent food. Most nights, a very high percentage diners at Cinc Sentits will be visitors but by no mean it is a 'tourist trap". Cal Pep is not a tourist trap because the food is good (a little overpriced) though there will be people eating there for other reasons. Probably the famous restaurant in Roses falls into this latter category.

            4 Replies
            1. re: PBSF

              I need to decide between Sauc and cinc sentits. Which would you chose and why?

              Thanks

              1. re: refilms

                Sauc is probably my favorite modern Catalan restaurant in Barcelona. The cooking is has an earthy element and depth of flavor that many restaurants of this type lacked. The food is complex without ever appearing so and the ingredients is always excellent. Since I have eaten there more than half a dozen times, I have developed a certain rapport with the staff which always make the meal more enjoyable. Also, I was big fan of Abac where the owner chef/owner used to cooked at.
                Cinc Sentits is a safer bet. The cooking is very consistent and there is rarely a conceptual problem with any of the courses. By offering only two tasting menus, there is a greater control in the kitchen. The service is very accommodating and polish. I've only eaten at Cinc Sentits twice. The primary reason that I don't return more often is that I find the ambience very bland and too low key. This is really a personal preference. If it is my first trip to Barcelona, I would probably choose Cinc Sentits.

                1. re: PBSF

                  I chose Cinc Sentits on my first trip and, unlike most reviewers here, found it a disappointment.
                  The 'famed' maple syrup 'shooter' was the problem for me! The taste was much heavier than the maple syrup I usually consume, and the flavour lingered in the mouth for 2 (at least) more courses, spoiling these for me as well.
                  But they spoke excellent English - which may make visitors seem more comfortable.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    Like you, I have not enjoyed their signature "maple syrup egg shooter" on both of my dinners. I found it too sweet as a beginning to a meal. The rest were very good: the foie gras, the arroz, langoustine, pork belly, to the cheeses/their accompaniments and simple desserts. Though my two dinners were more than a year apart, there was a basic similarity to the main ingredients and courses though the preparations were different. It's been more then two years and I have heard from friends that their cooking have gotten better and more refined.

            2. Thanks everyone for some good advice and feedback. Perhaps a readjustment of expectations for Barcelona is appropriate - I'm actually perfectly happy with "good to excellent meals in more modest places" and the request for a "knock-out" meal recommendation was maybe overstating things. Particularly since Mrs. F develops fatigue after too many drawn-out, more conceptual meals in a row.

              Here's a question which I should know the answer to, having been there only a year ago, but I don't recall: are the pintxos bars in San Sebastian generally open during lunch hours, only evening hours only?

              2 Replies
              1. re: Frodnesor

                Elkano always delivers, as far as I have heard, and the setting is breathtaking.

                1. re: Frodnesor

                  "are the pintxos bars in San Sebastian generally open during lunch hours"

                  yes

                2. I'm jealous that you get to go to Etxebarri! My husband still dreams of that place.

                  SS:
                  For different pintxos in San Sebastian, I would try more places in Gros:

                  El Patio de Ramuntxo - seared foie gras on toast, grilled razor clams, considerably more upscale/modern than other spots, seemed to have a large menu
                  Garbola - shark pintxo (was OK, definitely worth trying to say you've eaten shark), pistachio croquetta, interesting but I think Ramuntxo and Hidalgo were better
                  Hidalgo 56 - Blood sausage "volcano" with egg yolk and apple (amazing), also seemed to have a large & creative menu, sadly didn't get to try more items

                  If I had to pick I'd probably go with El Patio de Ramuntxo, as the most promising.

                  BARCELONA:
                  If you are having tapas at Inopia, Tapac 24 will not seem as good, although it is more convenient in terms of operating hours.

                  I would also add on Quimet i Quimet. Quimet i Quimet & Inopia were our two favorite casual places in Barcelona and we went multiple times. (But Inopia's pan con tomate is not great).

                  We also visited Bar Pinotxo (multiple times), Tapac 24, and Paco Meralgo. Regarding Paco Meralgo, we ordered more heavily on the seafood side of the menu and perhaps lucked up in terms of dishes -- and c'mon, that pan con tomate is unstoppable!

                  For the bistronomic, we loved Cinc Sentits and it may be in my top meals of all time (alongside Extebarri, Arzak, Alinea). We did the tasting menu there. I think I actually liked it more than Mugaritz which I found a bit too clinical.

                  In short, I'd gladly return to Cinc Sentits, Inopia, but not Tapac 24. And I urge you to add on Quimet i Quimet.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: kathryn

                    Good stuff here, thanks. What we did last SS trip, and will likely do again, is to do a Barrio Gros crawl one evening, and a Parte Vieja crawl another. I've eaten shark before, there's nothing wrong with it but I wouldn't go out of my way for it. The "volcano" at Hidalgo 56 on the other hand sounds like my kind of thing.

                    I liked Paco Meralgo, and it is indeed the best pan con tomate I have had anywhere. Just looking for something different this time around. That is some high praise for Cinc Sentits. I've also had Quimet y Quimet on my list, just struggling to figure out how to squeeze it in. Perhaps as a double-feature with Inopia?

                    1. re: Frodnesor

                      We tried a double feature of QQ and Inopia and it was really difficult since I wanted to keep exploring the menus of both!

                      1. re: kathryn

                        what's the pricing like for Cinc Sentits? 100 euro per person without drinks?

                        1. re: wreckers00

                          I would email to ask but last summer they told me:

                          The 6-course Essència is 46€, the 8-course Sensacions is 65€ and the 4-course "prix fixe" is 65€.

                    2. re: kathryn

                      First, thank you for your recommendations. We just got back from our honeymoon last night and we used your recommendations as a good guide.
                      Still jetlagged so I apologize for not having notes with me :)

                      First: Extebarri - was actually disappointed. It was very good food-wise, but not mindblowing. It was such a pain to find drive-wise. a very nice space, but...the staff was pretty awful. not attentive, not friendly, very very cold. we waited 15 minutes for someone to take our food or wine order. we didn't order any seafood, so my review may be slightly skewed. again, it was good but not insanely amazing.

                      Barcelona - Cinq Sentsis - their tasting menu paired with their wine menu was phenomenally. everything was no worse than great and some dishes were simply unbelieveable. a must to go eat at.

                      San Sebastian - first, in Gros:

                      Hildago 56 is very good. it has a limited ready-to-eat menu (the day we were there, there were two cow lips' dishes). but the volcano blood sausage was amazing. even the jamon and cheese sandwich was better than most places (and freshly toasted). We didn't find El Patio de Ramuntxo, so no comment on that.

                      Alona Berri is temporarily closed. hrmmmm....

                      Parte Vieja:

                      La Cepa - it didn't impresses us all that much. I don't even recall what we had. but it was packed.

                      Ganbara - again, was good but not mindblowing. even the "piggie in a blanket" pastry wasn't that great.

                      our favourite traditional place? It was in the central square (where the bullfights used to take place) in the old city. It began with an "A". their pintxos were really nice. the salmon crepe (not traditional, i know) was good. worth the visit.

                      but the best non-traditional pintxos? go to c. 31 of August (31 de Agusto) (furthermost street in the old town). the place on 31- i think it has "Noir" in its name - was unbelieveable. the two best dishes were the jamon latte with sweetbread cookies to dip into it. the flavours were great. the other great place is - I believe - on 24 on the same street. its the opposite side of the above restaurant and in the back of a small alley. we ordered off the menu. the fois gras was amazing. food and drinks were very affordable (compared to other pintxos joints)

                      1. re: atomeyes

                        Re: Extebarri
                        My meal was mostly seafood: prawns, oysters, barnacles, octopus, squid...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathryn/...

                        La Cepa -- hit or miss but we had greater hits with the made to order food and sliced jamon.

                        Sorry you didn't enjoy Ganbara. There were a ton of people when I was there and we were lucky enough to get the croissant sandwich type dishes hot from the oven.

                        The place at c/ 31 de Agosto, 31 is A Fuego Negro, I think?

                        1. re: kathryn

                          Yes, it was A Fuego Negro. the menu looked excellent AND it was the only place in SS that had any sort of salad/veggie combo! :)

                        2. re: atomeyes

                          "our favourite traditional place? It was in the central square (where the bullfights used to take place) in the old city. It began with an "A". their pintxos were really nice. the salmon crepe (not traditional, i know) was good."

                          Astelena?

                          1. re: Parigi

                            Correct. that's the name.

                            1. re: atomeyes

                              And the last one would be La Cuchera de San-Telmo?

                              1. re: SnackHappy

                                I thought it was la CuchAra too but atomeyes said it had "N" in the name and later confirmed it was A Fuego Negro.
                                atomeyes, are you testing us? :-)

                                1. re: Parigi

                                  i think the last one was indeed La Cuchera de San Telmo.
                                  its patio is in a small back alley. on the wall is a graffiti'ed picture of a large-breasted woman.
                                  we ate there during World Cup final. 1.5 bottles of wine consumed. the name will definitely NOT come to me any time soon :)

                                  but we ate at both A Fuego Negro (I think that one is at 31) and La Cuchara

                                  1. re: Parigi

                                    Oh yes, it's Cuchara with an "a". I should have known that. That's pretty basic restaurant Spanish.

                                    I really enjoyed that place. Almost all the dishes we ordered there on our two visits were great.

                                    We really liked Bar Astelena as well. Especially the hot made-to-order pintxos. Although they did tend to oversalt everything.

                                    1. re: SnackHappy

                                      Astelena and la Cuchara are my two fave pintxo bars in the old town. Reading this gives me so much vicarious pleasure.
                                      World Cup final at la Cuchara, must have been crazy! I was there for a rugby match and already it was unbreathably exciting.

                                      1. re: Parigi

                                        truth be told...
                                        it was a drizzly evening. the resto was pretty quiet (I assume most people were watching the game at a bar with more tv access). the atmosphere in the resto wasn't insane per se. in fact, it was more intimate than anything else.

                                        the foie there was great. a real tasty and large piece of liver. delish! we also had the beef cheeks and the chevre (i think it was chevre) dishes. we were stuffed off of 3 plates. pricewise, it was incredibly reasonable.

                        3. While in San Sebastian, a visit to a farming market is well worth a look. The farming markets have a great tradition and some of them taking place to very distant times as the Tolosa Market (Tinglado) that takes place every Saturday since 1253 or the Ordizia Wednesdays where take place the important Idiazabal cheese competition on September and people pay a lot of money for the winning cheese. It is an old tradition because take place from the 16th century. In these markets we can find more than fruits and vegetables, it is normal to find sale of livestock, cheese, talo (bread) with chorizo, beans, Basque cake and Txakolí (white young wine).
                          San Sebastian, Tolosa (26 kilometers south from SS) and Ordizia (40 kilometers south from SS) are linked by train and buses.
                          Recommended restaurant in Tolosa: Casa Julián that specializes in grilled beef chop. In Ordizia: Restaurante Martínez.
                          http://www.gipuzkoa.net/turismodocs/m...

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: JuanDoe

                            Juan Doe: Thanks for this!

                            1. re: JuanDoe

                              Would love to do this. We'll be in SS Thu-Sun so the Saturday Tolosa market is a possibility. Thanks for the tip.

                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                Frodnesor, if you go to Tolosa buy the typical "tejas" (almond cookies).
                                http://fotos.mundorecetas.net/albums/...

                                1. re: Frodnesor

                                  Don't miss the Idiazabal cheese, made from sheep milk. I like best the smoked variety.
                                  http://www.gipuzkoaturismo.net/WAS/CO...

                              2. Just got back a week ago from Spain/ Paris. We did both Akelare and Etxebarri. Both were fantastic and unique in their own style, ways and education. I just posted my review on Etxebarri in Tripadvisor but it'll take a couple of days to get posted. Bottom line is: get anything grilled on the menu and the FLAN for dessert! Remember that this area has lots of excellent dairy products too. I remember staying in the Spanish Pyrenees town of La Seu before and breakfast came with a whole block of butter (8 oz. size) per person and local yogurt. Believe me I tried looking for anything here in the US that came close to that yogurt flavor....to no avail. Please just look up my Tripadvisor posting these next few days.

                                I also recommend trying San Telmo again. Yes, their menu is quite difficult to read but some interesting pintxos we had were the finely chopped veal cheek croqueta with apple cider reduction, grilled caramelized foie gras with apple coulis, fried local goat cheese with green salad. Rule of thumb: pick out the most expensive items as these are the specials usually if it's too dofficult to read.
                                We also enjoyed Donostarria in the Gros area. Their specialty was the tortilla de patata tapa (yummy and thin), the 'plataforma' topped with ham, the Indurain (Spaniard tour de France winner)..had a whole block of bonito, anchovy and four pickled thin peppers, olive.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: trvlcrzy

                                  I didn't have any trouble reading Cuchara de San Telmo's menu - no more or less than anywhere else, anyway. My problem was that I ordered a few different dishes but the presentation and saucing of each of them was virtually identical. The foie gras came with an apple puree and a green sauce. The duck breast (rather tough) came with an orange puree and the same green sauce. The canelon de morcilla (my favorite thing there) likewise had the same green sauce. While each was fine on their own, they were disappointingly similar to each other.

                                2. Cinc Sentits's tasting menu from our visit:

                                  Tapas - 5 spices marcona almonds, parmesan and white truffle batons, house-marinated gordal olive stuffed with pimiento and the famous maple syrup, chilled cream, cava sabayon and rock salt shot.
                                  out of this, the maple syrup shot was amazing and the olives were excellent.

                                  Fresh tomato sorbet, garlic bubbles, toasted peasant bread (their take on pa amb tomaquet) - was very nice but not amazing. still enjoyed it.

                                  Chilled ajoblanco with fresh cherries, cherry pit ice, marcona almonds (and some fish...possibly sardines). I had mine fishless and it was a very tasty and refreshing "soup".

                                  foie grad coca - crisp pastry, glazed leeks, candied sugar crust and chive arrope. To be honest, i don't remember this. I would have to ask my wife, who is a foie addict. I think we were on glass #3 of wine. I think it was very tasty.

                                  Wild mediterranean red mullet - wife liked this a lot. I had another dish instead, since I don't eat fish. I wish I could recall what it was (glass of wine #4 now), but i remember i liked it. May have just been a vegetable medley or something.

                                  Iberian suckling pig with apple textures OR fillet mignon - we got one of each. i had the pork and she had the fillet. both were excellent

                                  Artisanal cheese - i don't recall if we both had the same cheese. I remember mine being the perfect amount of "blue". Really tasty

                                  Citrus snow, lemon ice cream, lime rocks, yuzo foam - excellent dessert

                                  Grand Cru chocolate, olive oil ice cream, shattered bread, macadamias - also excellent, but by this point, we were STUFFED. no mas!!!!

                                  1. New twist: Hondarribia. We have 4 days total in San Sebastian and recent NY Times story on nearby Hondarribia was intriguing ->
                                    http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/...

                                    From the story, Gran Sol and Sugarri sounded the most intriguing, but can anybody comment on whether any of the places mentioned are worth a detour? - Gran Sol, Sugarri, Alameda, Arroka Berri, Laia Erretegia, Abarka, Enbata, Ardoka.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      Just wondering if you've gone on your trip yet, and if so, where you ended up in SS and Hondarribia? I'm off in a couple of weeks myself, and am hoping for more reports than just the Times write-up.

                                      1. re: adam

                                        We just got back this weekend - fantastic trip. I've got some pictures up on flickr but no posts on my blog yet ->
                                        San Sebastian pintxos ->
                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodfort...
                                        Etxebarri ->
                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodfort...

                                        For San Sebastian pintxos bars, we revisited some from our trip last year ->
                                        http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

                                        And we also did some new ones. One of my favorites among the new ones (for us, that is) was A Fuego Negro, which is in the Parte Vieja on Calle 31 de Agosto (just down the street from Cuchara de San Telmo). Very contemporary but unpretentious, great food, nice atmosphere. Also had some interesting things at Mil Catas in the Gros. And Casa Senra, which we visited last time, grew on me even more - their croquetas are awesome. Was disappointed that Aloña Berri, which was a favorite from our last visit, was temporarily closed.

                                        We made a return trip to Arzak as well, which was very nice - I'd say 2/3 to 3/4 of the menu was different from our last visit.

                                        Etxebarri was wonderful and I'm surprised to see the negative comments in another recent post. The product was some of the best I've ever sampled, the gambas and chipirones in particular (we had gambas de Palamos at a few different places during our trip, and Etxebarri's were hands down the finest), and we found the staff humble and friendly. Despite the international reputation (and pricey tasting menu) it is still a pretty rustic place, and those expecting a three-star dining experience (and concomittant smoke blown up the ass instead of on the food) may be disappointed by the service.

                                        We went to, but did not eat in, Hondarribia even though I had seen the NYT write-up shortly before we left and was intrigued.

                                        1. re: Frodnesor

                                          Thanks very much for sharing. I've bookmarked your blog page so that I can take notes in preparation for our trip to San Sebastian and the Dordogne next summer.

                                          The pictures look fantastic! What did the Etxebarri tasting menu go for?

                                          1. re: Aleta

                                            I believe it was 120 Euros.

                                            1. re: Frodnesor

                                              My friends who went to Extabarri recently were impressed by the attention paid to their specific likes and dislikes. They did pay 120e.

                                          2. re: Frodnesor

                                            Thanks for the reply - your pictures are great! Very excited. We've got Etxebarri and Mugaritz booked, and otherwise will mostly hit up pintxos bars.

                                      2. Still no posts, but more pictures, these from Barcelona ->

                                        Barcelona tapas (Tapaç 24, Bar Mut, Pinotxo Bar) ->
                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodfort...

                                        and Koy Shunka ->
                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodfort...

                                        I was somewhat skeptical about Koy Shunka, but we were very pleasantly surprised. We did the tasting menu there and I thought they did a very nice job of incorporating many local products into predominantly Japanese (rather than more fusion-y) presentations. It was a nice change of pace.

                                        1. Hi folks, I'll be in Barcelona for the first time mid-Oct and am starting to plan my food outings. I would like to try at least one Michelin Star restaurant, perhaps two. I'm looking for a place that's more on the casual side (ie. would not feel out of place if I do not wear a jacket) and has a fun atmosphere. Would prefer to have one near my hotel, which is near the Diagonal subway stop. But here's perhaps the most difficult part: my wife does not eat pork or shellfish (fish is ok, only if it has scales), so would need a place that would accommodate such a dietary restriction.

                                          I've been reading the suggestions here and have visited the websites, but there is limited information there. If you can suggest some options, it would be greatly appreciated.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: SMOG

                                            Mmm, Michelin stars is easy; there are two 2 stars and about ten 1 star in Barcelona; three of the best 3 stars are just outside the city and easy to reach by train.
                                            Casual is also easy; Barcelona is a very dressy city but not very formal. In even the most highend restaurants, one seldom see a tie though hip sport jackets are very popular; so are designer pulls, $200 jeans and beautiful shoes. Just a nice outfit and no track suits, shorts or running shoes will do nicely.
                                            Fun is the difficult one: most star restaurants are small, somewhat subdue though by all means not stuffy; no tuxedo waiters, silver carts, dome on plates, lady foot stool, etc. By "fun" you mean lively and buzzing like an informal bistro, most of these restaurant are not. An exception might be Comerc24 which has some buzz. Drolma can be a bit formal.
                                            Food issues: easy as just about every restaurant have fish, veal, lamb, goat, beef and poultry plus lots of vegetables on their menu. And places that have tasting menus, just inquire when you make your reservation so there will be no surprises. Most are very accommodating though your wife will be missing two of the great components of Spanish cooking: shellfish and PORK. One comment is that the Spanish frequently use pork product as a flavoring and if your wife can push those aside, she'll be able to enjoy many more things.
                                            Below is a link to a list of Michelin star restaurants in Barcelona.
                                            http://www.barcelonayellow.com/bcn/re...
                                            The info is current except for the 2 star Abac which changed chef early this year. This is not an official write up by Michelin but it has some good general information. Don't give too might credence to the praise and the prices listed is only a guideline. My suggestion is to give it a quick browse to see which ones might strike an interest so that you can narrow down your choices. Also go through this board to read some of the earlier posts on Cinc Sentits, Sauc, Alkimia, Comerc24, etc. There are also many good non star places that are just under the radar: Hisop, Gresca, L'Olive, Coure. By being more specific, you wlll get some good feedback from this board. I might also suggest you start a new thread rather than piggy back this older one that has so many responses. You post will just lost in the shuffle.

                                          2. Making a little progress, now have a couple recaps done on pintxos in San Sebastian.
                                            Parte Vieja (A Fuego Negro, La Cuchara de San Telmo) ->
                                            http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...
                                            Barrio Gros (Casa Senra, Mil Catas, Hidalgo 56) ->
                                            http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Frodnesor

                                              Thanks for sharing. I'll have 2 each of those ;-) ;-) I enjoyed reading your description of the food. The croqueta of sweetbreads sounds amazing. This will really help us with our trip next summer.

                                            2. Some more on Etxebarri now ->
                                              http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

                                              We had been in the Basque Country twice before without making the journey out to Etxebarri, and I'm so glad we finally did it. Some of the best ingredients I've ever had, perfectly cooked.