Barcelona food itinerary
I'll be visiting Barcelona for the first time in November, and have been carefully planning a food itinerary. I've been scouring the tremendous amount of information on this board and come up with the below. I'd love to get any feedback on it from the experts here.
Dinner - Cinc Sentits
Lunch - Cerveseria Catalana
Dinner - no plan - trying to get tickets for FC Barcelona football match
Lunch - Gresca
Dinner - Cal Pep
Lunch - El Celler de Can Roca
Dinner - Quimet i Quimet (and possibly surrounding tapas or pintxos)
Lunch - Embat
Dinner - Alkimia
Lunch - Jamonisimo (we have an afternoon train, no time for lunch at a restaurant)
I'm trying to hit a number of places and balance out the super fancy meals with some tapas ones, etc. The only reservation we've made so far is El Celler de Can Roca. Planning to get the big tasting menus at Cinc Sentits, Can Roca, and Alkimia. I'm also following up Barcelona with 4 nights in Madrid - haven't worked on that part of the trip yet...
Any suggestions are appreciated!
For the Gresca / Cal Pep day, I would invert the meals and have Cal Pep for lunch (are they open for lunch? Sorry, this was one of the places we skipped) and Gresca's tasting menu or 4-item raciones menu for dinner. Dinner is so late by our North American standards and I'd much rather go to bed with Gresca food in my tummy vs Cal Pep's fried stuff. Just my preference. Eating lunch at Cal Pep would also work well with daytime sightseeing in that area. There are no sights around Gresca so you will be going over there for nothing but the food.
For your last / Jamonisimo day, another alternative would be to eat at La Boqueria's several "bars", such as Pinotxo, El Quim or Kiosko Universal. You could eat anytime you like and do food shopping too. If you are dead-set about Jamonisimo, make sure to call in advance. Several posters on Chowhound (including me) have found their doors closed, even after checking their business hours and reserving a table. They have 2 locations near each other (one for eating, the other for buying?) which adds to the confusion.
We had lunch at El Celler de Can Roca in early July and took the train back from Girona. Lunch takes a long time and if you miss your train, you may arrive back later than you expect. For that evening, we made no dinner plans, came back late and exhausted, and had a relaxing few
pintxos at Euskal Extea.
Have a great time! Try the cheese ice cream (and other fantastic stuff) at Formatgeria La Seu! I wish we were going again too.
Just one comment. I would definitely spend an evening in El Born and do a little tapas/pintxos hopping, lively and fun. Quimet y Quimet is very good but that might be the only evening free in your schedule and it is a bit out of the way in Poble Sec and not too much else there. Sunday night is not the best as many places are closed.
On Placa Santa Maria del Mar is La Vinya de Senyor, a terrific wine bar with good simple tapas and great outside sitting. Across the placa is another good wine bar, the name escapes me at the moment. On c/Argenteria is a large branch of Sagardi with a huge assortment of pinxtos. Great for people watching, especially on a warm night as the crowd spill out on to the placa. Next to it is a good cheese tasting restaurant. Nearby on Pl. Montcada is Euskal Etxea, the Basque Cultural Centers pintxto spot, which is always crowded in the evening. Nearby is Bar del Pla and El Rovell. Up the block is El Xampanent, popular for cava and tapas and party atmosphere. On c/Comerc is Santa Maria, great for more fusion style (sit in the counter if one wants doesn't want to eat a whole meal); Little Bestiari, next to their more formal restaurant Bestiari, on c/Fusina is very good and creative; also Budo has a bar for designer desserts.
Except for Sunday nights where many places are closed, El Born is lively throughout the week with Friday and Saturday being packed. Places like Sagardi with the open placa gets busy by 7pm.
Thanks! So far, we only have one reservation -- Cinq Sentits (tasting). Your advice on this board has helped us immensely. This should be a fantastic gustatory week!
One question -- and sorry for hijacking this thread -- if we are doing Cinq Sentits, should we also try a place like Alkimia (or other)? Or will the experience be too similar?
I think it depends on many factors: individual taste, budget, what other eating places is planned. No single restaurant should define a particular style of cooking, therefore, it is always nice to try another and compare.
Alkimia is a bit different then Cinc Sentits. For me, it is more fun, less predictable and more experimental. Cinc Sentits is a good safe introduction to modern Catalan cooking because the ingredients are good, the cooking is approachable and at a consistent high level, the tasting menu is well balance with good friendly service. My advice is to make a reservation for Alkimia for day after you've been to Cinc Sentits. Cancel if you decide against it.
If I have the budget and 5 to 6 days in Barcelona, I would train out and have lunch at one of the the four best restaurants in Catalonia: El Cellar de Can Roca, Can Fabes, Sant Paul or Hispania. These restaurants are very different from each other in terms of cooking style and ambience. Each represents why at the moment, Spain is such an exciting place to eat.
I love Cal Pep. Yes, last time I was in Barcelona, they opened at 1:00 in the afternoon. We waited until they opened so we could get seats right away.
I loved the individual tortilla espagnol that they make on the spot for you. I once ordered some monkfish and I saw them filleting it off the bone before they cooked it.
The first time I went, we delayed our departure by 2 days just so we could eat at Cal Pep. Even my picky partner thought it was worth the wait.
Am also a Pep fan.
If you arrive shortly before it opens for lunch or dinner, then the wait is a very doable 10 to 15 minutes only.
Re PBSF's recommendation of El Born…
Every time I go to Barcelona, I always stay in the Born neighborhood. The one drawback about living there is that since it is everything and is such an enjoyable hangout, we just about never get out! Except to the Raval, which is the born-again new Born. And of course our modernista pilgrimage.
When I go to restaurants outside the Born, it is usually lunch. I want to be able to walk to the fabulous 'hood bars then walk home after dinner.
Thanks for all the great tips, everyone. Will definitely consider skipping Quimet and doing some hopping in El Born instead. Our plan for that evening is that we're expecting to not eat too much after lunch at Can Roca anyway, so we'll probably decide while we're there.
I've run into another little problem - I had originally put Gresca for lunch and Cal Pep for dinner on Monday, due to schedules - Cal Pep is open on Monday but for dinner only. As it turns out, Cal Pep is closed that Monday because of All Saints Day.
Do you guys think Cal Pep is a must-go? I'm considering switching Alkimia to Monday night, and going to Cal Pep on Wednesday. I don't really want to do Alkimia for dinner and then Can Roca for lunch the next day, all in a row - since we were hoping to get the big menu at Alkimia too. I'd rather leave Alkimia for Wednesday.
Anyone know some good alternatives to Cal Pep for Monday? Is dinner at Cal Pep a big/filling meal? Perhaps we could do dinner at Cal Pep on Tuesday after Can Roca, and just try to do El Born hopping on Monday - would those places be open on November 1st?
Sorry for being all over the place, and thanks again everyone - all the tips are greatly appreciated.
I would definitely not do Can Roca and Alkimia on the same day. It would not do your stomach as well as the restaurants justice. Lunch at Can Roca will not end before 4pm even if you do not order their tasting menu. In my opinion, no single restaurant in Barcelona is a "must". Have to venture outside of the city for those, ie, Can Roca, etc. I am not a big fan of Cal Pep though the food is good. One does not have to order a big meal in any tapas places, including Cal Pep. Most diners tend to at Pep because of the big deal of getting a seat; it is not quite suitable as a drop in for a few bite. Pintxos are great for that. Some places will be closed on All Saints day but El Born has lots of tapas/pintxos places, therefore, there will be some good ones open. With so many good place to eat in Barcelona, I would not scramble my whole eating schedule for Cal Pep.