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Help! Having Mediocre/Bad meals in Barcelona

riotburn Aug 17, 2010 09:33 PM

Me and my gf are in Barcelona and so far have had a few decent meals plus one horrible meal. But so far we havn´t had that meal that makes us understand why everyone says northern spain has the best food anywhere. The food we have had at one galician place in NY has bested all these places so far. The first meal we had, we got to the hotel and asked for a recommendation, went there but the place was closed and decided to try the place right next door. Besides the patatas bravas, its up there with one of my worst meals. I believe it was called Los Coconchas?

Though I wish we had reservations, and the money, for El Bulli, What are your recommendations for places to eat? We are staying by the Engineering School on Comte de Urgell. We will be around Montjuic and probably las ramblas today. We are looking for mainly reasonably priced places except for maybe one great place thats well worth it. One person at the hotel said his favorite is La fonda del mar by the olympic port.

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  1. PBSF RE: riotburn Aug 17, 2010 10:04 PM

    One doesn't have to go to El Bulli for good food in Barcelona. Never been to La Fonda Del Mar. Most places on the Olympic port are not known for food. I would search this board for previous post as every types of restaurants in Barcelona have been well covered: from simple pintxos, tapas, inexpensive everyday cooking to high end traditional and modern Catalan. One problem is that many places are closed some part of August. Skip all the places on the Las Ramblas. I would go down to El Born/Ribera and check out what is opened and crowded. Also head to Gracia, Sarria, St. Gervais where most locals eat. There will be a few good places not taking their annual vacation.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PBSF
      riotburn RE: PBSF Aug 17, 2010 10:29 PM

      I did check out the boards, problem is almost all the places I find recommended also have an equal amount of dissent. It makes it hard to choose.

      No puede dormir. ¿Por que tu estas despierto?

      1. re: riotburn
        Parigi RE: riotburn Aug 18, 2010 03:29 AM

        Many places do not generate dissent. I don't remember anybody saying they had mediocre food in Senyor Parellada or at Euskal Etxea. And that's just 2 places off the top of my head.
        There is so much info. Of course there are pros and cons. Hounds who do a minimum of research come away with an unforgettable culinary experience of Barcelona.
        I am sure you have the same discerning and sorting skills as everybody else on this board.
        However, if you do not want to do research and do not want to reserve, it may be better to get used to eating badly.

    2. PhilD RE: riotburn Aug 18, 2010 01:31 AM

      "so far we havn´t had that meal that makes us understand why everyone says northern spain has the best food anywhere"

      Is Barcelona in Northern Spain? I would have thought that meant San Sebastian and the rest of the North coast across to Galicia that region definitely has a very strong food reputation.

      If you check out the board then simply follow PBSF and Parigi's advice - they know their stuff.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PhilD
        riotburn RE: PhilD Aug 18, 2010 09:34 AM

        Yes I have done my research and unfortunately it seems that a lot of the recommended places are also closed for August. Most I saw were closed before we tried to go, like Quimet i quimet, but then we went all the way from Montjuic to Cal Pep but it was closed as well.

        Then we made our way to Caelum but the cave is being renovated. We ate upstairs anyway. The dessert I picked out looked really good but had a really peculiar aftertaste. At first I thought I was going to get a curious response for not having a more intricate palate but I am glad I complained. The manager tasted our cake straight from our table and agreed. After much trying to communicate in Spanish, she said pintura, and I knew that taste must have come from the construction.

        So I ask, we have 2 dinners plus a lunch coming up in 5 days, driving up to france, if we wanted to spend no more than 70 euros for 2 ppl, where should we eat.....that isnt on vacation?

      2. b
        bettybop RE: riotburn Aug 18, 2010 11:21 AM

        There are plenty decent restaurants open in August. I wouldn´t recommend going uptown to Sarria or San Gervasi because they are practically deserted and most places are shut. Nearly all the places in the centre of town are open. In the port area you have Agua, a very nice seafood and rice restaurant with a fantastc location practically on the beach. Alternatively, you can wander into the new marina and try one of the large restuarats like Moncho´s. They are very touristy but have a beach location, lots of seafood and serve decent food. They´re certainy not El Bulli but then August is August I´m afraid. In the old marina you have the Merindero de la Mari. Lovely outside terrace , very decent seafood and rice (pricey, but they location is fab). In the Born area you have Casa Delfin ( on the Paseo del Borne) it´s not expensive and the food is very good. You also have Sagardi on the C/ Argenteria, a firm favourite of mine if you feel like meat. The list is endless really. I think you can eat pretty well!!

        1. r
          riotburn RE: riotburn Aug 18, 2010 04:29 PM

          ate at cerveceria catalan tonight, the food was pretty good but the service was terrible. Ill check out those you recommended bettybop

          1 Reply
          1. re: riotburn
            bettybop RE: riotburn Aug 18, 2010 11:53 PM

            Good luck! I´m afraid that mid- August is not a time for great service here. If you do come across fantastic service count your blessings...Most waiting staff will be extremely tired and hot by now and the work is very relentless!! The service staff are not as highly paid here as in the States and the service/ tipping culture is very different so you´re asking to trouble if you expect the same. Try and relax and enjoy!!

          2. l
            lozanoaiguafreda RE: riotburn Aug 19, 2010 04:46 AM

            I recommend (good food / medium price):
            -Ca la Nuri, near the Hospital del Mar (paellas and see food)
            -Ipartxoko, in Gràcia (basque country meals)
            -Euskaletxea, in Born (basque country meals)
            -Xemei, in Poble sec ( for me, the best italian restaurant in town)
            -Senyor Parellada, in Born ( catalan cuisine)
            -Shunka, in Gòtic (Japanesse cuisine)
            -La Coronela, in Gòtic ( mexican)

            Enjoy BCN and don't eat more patatas bravas in touristic restaurants

            1. a
              Aleta RE: riotburn Aug 19, 2010 08:04 AM

              I like Lozanoaiguafreda's list. Sounds like we are finally getting some "local input" instead of either overseas and expatriate recommendations (no offense intended to anyone - just stating what appears to be the facts).

              Riotburn, you have to study up BEFORE you travel, especially if you are traveling during vacation season!! ;-) Hope this info is useful to you. We had a wonderful time in Barcelona back in late June, both dining and sightseeing. I can't imagine any NYC Spanish restaurant being better than what we ate in Barcelona and Seville. Please give me the name so I can check it out next time we are in NYC. We'll be in Washington DC and Philly next week; they have some chefs who claim to be "friends of Ferran Adria". I miss our meals in Barcelona so much that I am sorely tempted to try the "friends" out. But apart from paying through the nose for what was half the price in Spain, I'm afraid I'll be extremely disappointed.

              The website bcnrestaurantes.com has a list of places open in August. I scrolled through the entire list and came up with some Chowhound old favourites for you. The link to the website is attached below too.

              Ca La Nuri (both in L'Eixample and Barceloneta)
              Cuines Santa Caterina
              Euskal Etxea (bar and sit-down restaurant - different menus, mind you)
              Orio (I wrote about that one in my trip report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7103...
              )Paco Meralgo
              Sagardi Muntaner (and maybe the other one in Argenteria)


              6 Replies
              1. re: Aleta
                Aleta RE: Aleta Aug 19, 2010 05:12 PM

                While on the subject of restaurants with - and I quote the original poster's words - <<an equal amount of dissent>>, I suggest you (Riotburn) read the post about Taller de Tapas. Some like it and some don't. It is a chain. It serves a purpose. It's been called Tapas 101. It's owned by an Englishwoman, Kate Preston, and a Spaniard, Jose Lombardero. It is the big sister restaurant to Casa Delfin. This information is factual and available on various Internet sites. Just my research. No offense to anyone intended.


                1. re: Aleta
                  Nyleve RE: Aleta Aug 20, 2010 07:13 AM

                  And, not to put too fine a point on it, my recent experience at Casa Delfin was the single worst meal of our stay in Barcelona. So even if you do your homework, you can still end up bombing out. I'm not suggesting no research, but it's not a 100% guarantee. A good restaurant can have an off night, you can end up with a terrible server or you can just plain order the one thing on the menu that they don't do well.

                  1. re: Nyleve
                    Aleta RE: Nyleve Aug 20, 2010 10:53 AM

                    Nyleve, calling Casa Delfin your "single worst meal of our stay in Barcelona" has piqued my curiosity. I didn't chose to eat there on our visit (we had delicious arroz at both Kaiku and El Vell Sarria instead) but some posters have highly recommended it. On a different forum, a poster from England even recommended it to a couple who was celebrating a 65th wedding anniversary and wanted "a special place" (hope you weren't eating anything while reading this because you might have just choked! :-) ) I checked the place out and found the decor (cane chairs, little tables) ... simple. Certainly NOT a place my spouse should take me for a 65th wedding anniversary if he expects snuggles afterwards! I am always curious about food and restaurants; what's going on with Casa Delfin? How could it have so many ardent fans yet be only a cafe that delivers a sometimes-mediocre experience? Maybe the owner has some really supportive friends ;-) What exactly did you eat that was so terrible? To me, Chowhound is a forum for sharing experience and information on food. I appreciate you sharing your experience and opinion.

                    1. re: Aleta
                      SnackHappy RE: Aleta Aug 20, 2010 11:22 AM

                      Nyleve already shared.


                      1. re: SnackHappy
                        Aleta RE: SnackHappy Aug 20, 2010 11:47 AM

                        Thanks, SnackHappy. I was out of town and missed the original discussion.

                        1. re: Aleta
                          Nyleve RE: Aleta Aug 20, 2010 12:22 PM

                          I am prepared to cut the place some slack since so many folks have eaten well there - but when there's so much good food in Barcelona, I wouldn't be in a big hurry to give it a second chance. Our experience was memorably bad.

              2. r
                riotburn RE: riotburn Aug 20, 2010 09:02 AM

                Thanks for the replies. Replying from phone. Will be back to bcn on Tuesday.

                La rioja in astoria is the best. Owner is from galicia. They sell meats cheeses and canned goods too.

                3 Replies
                1. re: riotburn
                  erica RE: riotburn Aug 23, 2010 09:22 AM

                  I hope that you will be kind and report back on where and what you ate in Barcelona. We would like to hear the good, and the bad.

                  I have to admit I am skeptical about the Astoria restaurant being on a par with the wonders of Barcelona....will try to check it out someday..

                  1. re: erica
                    riotburn RE: erica Aug 24, 2010 08:12 AM

                    It is very good. Definitely should check it out. But then its Gallegan, not Catalan. I guess the big problem is coming to Spain and France in August when all the locals places close and mainly the tourist crap is open or the mediocre restaurants.

                    Will report back, going to Alba tonight. Recommended by the hotel staff.

                    1. re: riotburn
                      erica RE: riotburn Aug 24, 2010 11:37 AM

                      Not too put too fine a point on this, but the menu at La Rioja does not lookGalician to me, apart from a couple of dishes..many owners of old-school Spanish places in the US have Galician roots and that menu reminds me of those I used to see in place in the Village..which is not to say the food is not great, though.

                      Have fun!

                2. r
                  riotburn RE: riotburn Aug 27, 2010 06:29 AM

                  Went to Paco Meralgo one night on the corner of muntaner and cortega(corsega?). Was really really good. Defintely recommend. I tried one of my gf's steamed mussels and liked it even though I hate all seafood. Really good Bomba, pan tomaquet, and they have this really good steak cubes tapa that everyone in the restaurant was ordering. Then for lunch the next day we to La Fonda for lunch which is a seafood place in the Olympic Port. They had a 9.26 Euro menu which had four courses. Was really good as well. My gf was able to get mussels for app, and fideua for main. Then for our last dinner the hotel recommended we go to Verdi street in the Gracia, saying there are a lot of restaurants there but there were maybe 3 total. So we walked back to Gran Gracia and went to a random taperia called Bar el Picoteo. It was pretty much the kind of place id been looking for, a locals place. Really good food without a fancy pretentious like atmosphere. Manager was a really nice guy, and id say they had the best patatas bravas and tortilla bocadillo. Good sausage from Leon too. They were out of Bombas though :(

                  Anyone have a recipe for Bombas, or a good source for Spanish tapas recipes in general?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: riotburn
                    erica RE: riotburn Aug 27, 2010 08:46 AM

                    I've cooked from both of these and recommend:



                    By "bombas" do you mean croquetas?

                    1. re: erica
                      riotburn RE: erica Aug 27, 2010 10:55 AM

                      had it at paco meralgo. it was mashed potato rolled in beef, rolled flour, fried and covered in tomato sauce and cheese.

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