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Please help with my Barcelona eating itinerary

I just booked a last minute trip to Barcelona so I will have 6 nights there from Dec. 27 – Jan. 1, and am trying to iron out my eating itinerary. Sadly, it looks like Can Roca is closed for the holiday (although I would be thrilled to learn I am misinformed about this), so I was thinking about trying to get in to Can Fabes for NYE dinner. Living in NYC, I would never think about paying the premium to go to a 3 star restaurant here for NYE but since Barcelona doesn’t have a huge party scene for NYE, I was thinking about going to Can Fabes, if possible, on that night.

I was also thinking about Alkima on Monday since it’s one of the few places open on Monday.

So I need to try to figure out how else to balance my nights. For at least one night I was thinking of doing a tapas/pintxo crawl (a previous CHer mentioned Tapac24, Cerveseria Catalana, La Bodegueta – would that be a good route? Any others to add to it?)

Would having tapas be good for lunches? Should I try to go to quimet y quimet for lunch as opposed to dinner? Is it not worth going to at all? If not, what other tapas places – or crawls – would you recommend? (I am staying near the Catalunya metro station in Ciutat Vella but have no problem traveling for food – we are CHers, after all!)

Assuming I am able to get an Alkima reservation, which 3 or 4 of the following would you recommend for my other nights? Cinc Senits, Gaig, Sauc, Coure, Hisop, Comerc24, Gresca, Gelonch, Olive, Neichel, or Moo. I care mainly about the food being good, authentic, and a nice compare/contrast with the other restaurants chosen.

If I can’t get into Can Fabes, what would you recommend for NYE? Would prefer something a bit celebratory!

Thank you for your last minute help! I promise to return the kindness by writing reviews of wherever I end up!

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  1. "Cerveseria Catalana, La Bodegueta – would that be a good route? Any others to add to it?"

    There are several eateries with the name Bodegueta.
    I suppose you mean La Bodegueta near Cerveceria Catalana since you want to crawl.
    That Bodegueta is not really a tapas crawl place. It really is a sitdown lunch place.

    A good tapas bar near you would be Bilbao Berria.
    There is a very good horchata bar not far from you, near the Boqueria: Granja Viader. Very funky.
    In past xmas-new years those places were open.

    Would having tapas be good for lunches? Should I try to go to quimet y quimet for lunch as opposed to dinner? Is it not worth going to at all? If not, what other tapas places – or crawls – would you recommend? (I am staying near the Catalunya metro station in Ciutat Vella

    1. One additional thought: it looks like Gaig, Moo, Olive, Hisop, and Gresca are all open on Monday. Assuming that is correct, should my first night in Barcelona be at Alkimia or one of these? Basically, which would you choose for your first exposure to Barcelona's restaurant scene? Thanks!

      1. If El Cellar de Can Roca is closed for the holiday, Moo would be an alternative since it is the Roca Brother's outpost in Barcelona. The is food is similar though not quite up to their Girona and only a tad cheaper. I have never been to Gelonch but the rest on your list of Cinc Sentits, etc, are all similar in terms of food; just the degree of modern/molecular: Gaig being on one end and Moo being the most molecular. If "authentic" you mean traditional, none of these are. They don't offer much variety: all are modern/molecular interpretation of Catalan cuisine. You can't go wrong with any of them but for celebratory in terms of atmosphere and fun, I would go with Comerc24; and for date type of ambience, Neichel. If it were me, I would pick two, at most three from your list; balance them with a more traditional place such as Fonda Gaig; or a less upscale as Pla or even more down home such as Can Mano or Foxos or Can Lluis to save some euros and get a feel of what most locals eat. Or on Sunday afternoon, head down to Barcelonetta and enjoy a seafood/rice lunch with the rest of the local families.
        Can Fabes is different from all the rest: the only Michelin 3 star that is not doing molecular type of cooking; it is 'modern' and inventive it is own way. Exceptional ingredients, some dishes very modern such as avocado/shrimp ravioli, giant prawns coated with semolina served with a heady suave aillioli, pork belly with squid and bit of jambon iberico, pigeon pastilla; some deceptively simple such as a saute of wild mushrooms, or a roasted squab with a most intense and flavorful wine sauce. The ambience is very low key and the service more formal (not stuffy) than most.
        La Bodegueta on the Rambla de Catalunya does serve tapas; it is old style, crowded, lively with service can be charming or the opposite. One can do a tapas/pintxos crawl of the Eixample but the really good ones are a good walk apart. Not all are good but if one wants to cut down the walking there many on the Rambla de Catalunya and the carrers off of it. Your trio of Tapac24, Cerveseria Catalana and La Bodegueta are few blocks of each other. Tapas/pintxos are good for anytime, therefore, lunch at Quimet y Quimet is fine and also a La Bodegueta nearby in Poble Sec. If I have one night to do a tapas/crawl, I would go down to el Born rather than hang out in the Exiample or why not do two nights worth. Be somewhat flexible as once arrive, one might get hooked on the tapas/pintxos craze or that eating and drinking standing up is a drag.
        If you are worrying about the extra cost of NYE dinner, some restaurants do have special menus, etc. Best to check with making reservations and not be surprised.

        2 Replies
        1. re: PBSF

          To add to above post, neglected to recommend La Dama if one wants to splurge for excellent traditional food. A informed poster recommended this often in the past and we had of one of the best dinner there last year.

          1. re: PBSF

            I found La Dama to be the perfect contrast to all the innovative cooking and with 6 days I think it should definitely be included. Also loved Can Fabes (much more than Can Roca), and hope you can get there. Alkimia was the best of the modern places we went to in Barcelona, and though I have not been to Gelonch, Spanish friends of mine raved about it.

        2. We just got back from Barcelona a few weeks ago and ate at Alkimia, gelonch and Cinq Sentis. They were all wonderful. Gelonch was a smallish restaurant with lots of small plates, a very present chef and lovely food A great bargain too. Alkimia was very interesting and we enjoyed it well enough until we went to Cinq Sentis, our last meal, which blew us away. It was the last night of a two week trip, mostly in France, where we ate superbly every night. Cinq Sentis was absolutely above most of the 2* . I wish I could give you details but I can't . I just say- go to it- it was a lovely calm room and wonderful food!

          1 Reply
          1. re: pammi

            I liked the whole experience of Cinq Sentits, thought the atmosphere and service were exceptional, but found the food at Alkimia a bit more exciting. They are both great and if possible I think both should be tried.

          2. Hi everyone,

            Thank you so much for all your helpful suggestions. We have secured a NYE res at Can Fabes as well as at Alkimia for our first night. I'm thinking of this for our schedule:

            Mon: Alkimia
            Tues: tapas crawl, either Tapac24, Cerveseria Catalana, La Bodegueta - or in El Born.
            If we did a tapas crawl in El Born, what places should we visit?
            Wed: Comerc24
            Thurs: Cinc Sentits
            Fri: Can Fabes
            Sat: This is New Year's Day. Any suggestion for casual places that will be open? I emailed Fonda Gaig but they said they would be closed.
            Sunday lunch: we're hoping to go to the FC Barcelona game at night (assuming it doesn't get moved to Monday) so what would be a good casual place open for Sunday lunch?

            quimet y quimet
            cal pep
            paco meralgo

            Boqueria, Bar Pinotxo

            Thank you so much!

            4 Replies
            1. re: ManhattanLawyer

              IMHO, don't miss Gelonch. One of our favs in BCN. Personally I would sub Gelonch for Comerc 24, which we think is good but not nearly the same level as Gelonch. Have fun!!

              1. re: ManhattanLawyer

                Tapas/pintxos in El Born: this area is jammed with standup tapas/pintxo places; start on c/Argentiera down to Santa Maria del Mar, up on Montcada around c/Princesa. There will be Sagardi, Euskal Etxea, La Vinya del Senyor, El Xampanent, Bar del Pla, El Rovell, on c/Comerc is Santa Maria, off it is Little Bestial; these are just a start. Tapa/pintxo crawl is not always about food but also the ambience; in most places, not everything will be great; the idea is to start with small amount of food and check out the ambience; if it is not to your liking, just move on; the time and cost investment are small. For more info, search this board for tons of earlier posts on this board.
                Sat, New Years day: you'll have to do some research on this as what is open changes year to year. Check what is on your list and call; there is always Paco Meralgo and probably Senyor Parallada.
                Sunday Lunch: the best bet is down to Barcelonetta for rice dishes; Kaiku, Merendero de la Mari, L;'Eix al Moll are all pretty good. That is where the locals go on a nice Sunday afternoon.
                The places on your list are all good; just a matter of finding a right balance and variety. Advice for lunch as many have pointed out: pick places that is near where you'll be sightseeing; it is not worth the time and the energy to cross town just to have lunch. For example, if one is visiting Sagrada Familia, it is a real drag to have to get down to Guimet y Quimet where Poble Sec is most a working class neighborhood.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    One other place I would recommend if you do the Born tapas crawl is El Vaso de Oro. It's not in Born but it's close by and it has a very unique atmosphere. Drink beer by the cana. Share a combo plate of foie gras and lomo sauteed with onions if you feel like splurging or just get some Russian salad and pimientos del padron if you don't.

                    For lunch I think Gresca is an extraordinary value.

                1. Rather than starting a new thread, we have 2 nights and 2.5 days in Barcelona next week (spur of the moment decision). We won't have a car and I see Can Fabes is too far out of town.

                  We were thinking of: Friday night - tapas in Born (where we will be staying)
                  Saturday lunch Can Mano or Foxos or Can Lluis or a similarly 'simple' place.
                  Saturday dinner: Cinc Sentits
                  Sunday lunch??? Any recommendations for a 'serious' last meal?

                  Does this sound sensible to the experts here?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: sinbarambam

                    Can Fabes: easy 20 minutes train ride from Barcelona though lunch is the only option since there will not be any trains running after a dinner.
                    You itinerary is sensible but it really depends on what you are looking for.
                    Sunday lunch: what is a "serious' last meal? high end restaurant are all closed on Sundays. Good bet are tapas places such as PacoMeralgo; even better is lunch at Barcelonetta: nothing "serious" but fun mingling with all the local families. Skip all the places on the Pg Joan de Borbo.

                    1. re: PBSF

                      I like the atmosphere of Sunday lunch at Set Portes, which is quite near Barceloneta recommended above. I always love the arroz nero there, and it is great fun to watch neighboring tables of 3 generations of locals pigging out together over a lunch that often ends around 5pm.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        Thanks for reminding me that most serious places will be closed for lunch on Sunday - hadn't thought of that. Will check out Barcelonetta or Set Portes. Alternatively we could skip the tapas crawl on Friday night and go to one of the other higher-end places instead then. Or is an evening tapas crawl not to be missed?

                        If we do go to an upscale restaurant on Friday, any recommendations in addition to cinc sentits? (we don't really want to get on a train as we're there for such a short time so that rules out CF on this occasion).

                        1. re: sinbarambam

                          It all depends what you want to eat. Friday night tapas/pintxos in El Born will be fun, a partying atmosphere with some excellent food; great for mingling and people watching. If it was my first trip to Barcelona and I have only two days, I would not miss that.
                          For another sit down: updated traditional, try the bustling Fonda Gaig or the expensive but excellent La Dama; more toward the modern are Gaig, Sauc, L'Olives, Colibri or a little more molecular Alkimia and Hisop. Or one can try Moo, the Roca Brothers' outpost in Barcelona; Moments, which I have not been, Carme Ruscalleda's Sant Pau new restaurant. These are just a start and one can't go wrong with any of them. Search this board as there have been earlier posts on them. Comerc24 might get a few negative comments but serves some of the best and most creative food in Barcelona. Unlike most high-end places, it has great vibe, lively, designer decor and one need not lock in a long tasting menu or ordering structure. Also it depends on where you can get a reservation for a busy Fridy night as most of these places are small.
                          As for your your choice of Saturday lunch, I would choose a place a place that is the most convenient to where you are at that time. For example, if you are visiting the Sagrada, Parc Guell, the Montjuic or Eixample, it is a waste of valuable time and energy to metro down to Can Mano in Barcelonetta for a simple meal. Also I am not sure Foxos has Saturday lunch as many informal places are closed for weekend midday meal.

                          1. re: PBSF

                            Woaw, thanks for that wealth of useful information, PBSF!