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Mar 30, 2011 12:12 AM

Barcelona without tasting menus?

Hello Spain and Portugal CHers,

My sweetheart and I are making a brief trip to Barcelona May 2-10 (rendezvousing with a friend in Madrid for 1.5 days in between).

We'll be staying in Gracia near the Fontana Metro to get a feeling for the neighborhood and whether we might want to live in Barcelona at some point. When we get back from Madrid we'll be staying in l'Eixample since we have an early morning flight back to Hong Kong.

Wondering if you can suggest some restaurants that are delicious everyday places we might frequent if we lived there. We'd also like to go for a nicer dinner, but again something you might do on a free weekend, not a once-in-a-lifestyle meal.

Here's our approx itinerary:

Mon, 2 May -- 8pm arrive BCN, check into Aparthotel Silver in Gracia, drinks nearby?
Tues, 3 May -- explore Gracia, lunch?, dinner/tapas?
Weds, 4 May -- museums/sightseeing TBD, 7pm The Barcelona Taste tour in Barrio Goti
Thurs, 5 May -- museums/sightseeing TBD, nicer dinner?
Fri, 6 May -- 1pm train to Madrid
Sat, 7 May -- Madrid
Sun, 8 May -- 6:38pm arrive Barcelona, check into Hotel Praktik Rambla near Passeig de Gracia, tapas nearby?
Mon, 9 May -- museums/sightseeing TBD, nicer dinner?
Tues, 10 May -- 7:15a flight to HKG (ugh!)

Here are some restaurants that appeal to me on paper:

Paco Meralgo
Café de l'Acadèmia (lunch)
Via Veneto
Cal Pepe
La Vinya del Senyor

Also hope to visit Mercat de St Antoni and curious about where to shop for groceries in Gracia.

Any thoughts/suggestions very much appreciated!

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  1. Around metro Fontana you'll find a few good food shops on Gran de Gràcia. There are fruterias on the side streets and most of them sell good produce, but the best place for food shopping in Gràcia is in and around the Mercat de la Llibertat. I can't say enough about the place. It's the best market in Barcelona after the Boqueria and Santa-Caterina, AFAIC, and it's my personal favourite.. The building itself is a landmark and the setting is very nice, like a somewhat smaller Santa-Caterina. They have everything you need including good bread, which can be somewhat elusive in Spain. There's also a Bon Preu supermarket inside so it's basically one-stop shopping.

    About Mercat Sant-Antoni, is there a special reason you want to go there? It's a good market, but not really worth going out of your way. The temporary digs aren't bad, but there's nothing to see. The Boqueria and Santa-Caterina are much more interesting for a visitor.

    2 Replies
    1. re: SnackHappy

      Hi SnackHappy -- This is very helpful! Thank you. I cook a great deal so much of my life (were we to live in Barcelona) would be spent in the markets. I read somewhere that Mercat Sant-Antoni was as good as the Boqueria, but less touristy. Perhaps the Boqueria is just fine?

      1. re: chloehk

        Santa-Caterina is the popular Boqueria alternative. As I said before Sant-Antoni is great. but it's not very pleasant. If you're living in Gràcia, Mercat de la Llibertat is a much better choice. The Boqueria is indeed the best market in Barcelona, but it's always bursting with tourists and the prices are slightly higher than elsewhere. Santa-Caterina is a great market with excellent selection, but it lacks atmosphere. It's perfect if you're living in the Cuitat Vella, but it's a bit of schlep from there to Gràcia.

    2. Can't add any more to the above posts about the area around Fontana . The Mercat de la Libertat is is terrific and also good is Mercat de Lesseps. It is a wonderful area to stay, a little away from the visitors yet still vibrant and convenient by Metro.
      As for your eating places; it is difficult to comment on them without knowing what you are looking for and the reasons you've chose them. I have not been to Tickets or Via Veneto; the rest are good choices. Couple of comments:
      Except for Paca Meralgo with very good tapas, good for a full meal and la Vinya del Senyor with great wines, wonderful setting and some good tapas for some relaxing times, the rest on your list are not really everyday places; at least not for a budget minded.
      Drolma is probably the most conservative of all the modern Catalan restaurant in Barcelona. The cooking and ingredients are excellent. The ambience is very low key and somewhat formal. Also very expensive. It is a very good choice if that is the type of restaurant you are looking for.
      If you've seached this board, they are some of the more popular places posters have commented on.
      I am not too familiar with your area but there are some good everyday places that I like:
      Sureny, Envalira, Bodega Manolo, Foquer and Goliard. Goliard has a very good menu del dia for lunch; think it is about 10e including a glass of wine. No weekends.

      7 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        Hi PBSF,

        Apologies for my slow response and thank you for the recommendations.

        Here's what I'm thinking...

        - Breakfast at Mercat de la Libertat (are there cafes?, seats?)
        - Lunch at Rest. Goliard
        - Dinner at Rest. Envalira (sounds wonderful!)

        - Breakfast in our kitchenette
        - Lunch at Cafe de la Academia (is this just a tourist joint or really good?)
        - Barcelona Taste tour in Barrio Goti for dinner

        Out for a nicer or trendier dinner TBD.

        - Dinner at Cherif in Barceloneta (have you heard of this?)

        - Breakfast at La Boqueria
        - Dinner at Paco Meralgo

        If you have any suggestions for a nicer dinner out, here's the type of thing we're looking for...

        My sweetheart likes a comfortable room with good chairs (not stools or anything rickety) and a casual but elegant atmosphere. He wouldn't wear sneakers, but also wouldn't want to wear a sportcoat. We eat more pork, lamb, beef, and poultry than we do seafood. Anything fresh and simple and refreshing would be wonderful. We don't want anything Asian or Asian-fusion-y since we live in HK. I prefer food that aspires to be food rather than food-art.

        Also, have you heard of Con Gracia?

        Thanks for any further help!

        1. re: chloehk

          I know you weren't asking me, but I'll give you a couple of answers anyway.

          There are couple of bars in Mercat de la Llibertat where you could get some breakfast, but I've never eaten there and never heard anything about them. There are however a few bars, restaurants, bakeries and pastry shops around the market that could be good for breakfast.

          Cheriff, according to is closed on Sunday. You should also know that most arrocerias in Barceloneta, or anywhere else, that open on Sunday are only open for lunch.

          1. re: chloehk

            Breakfast is usually not a big thing in big cities in Spain; it is mostly breakfast pastry and a coffee. As the previous poster states, there are cafes around both hotels where you will be staying at. Although most locals will stand up bar style, some will have informal table area to sit. The bar in the Mercat de la Libertat are perfectly fine for. There are several koisk type of places inside the Boqueria for more substantial food. These are counter/stool type of places (no table service) and are very informal, crowded, some standing. It makes a lively atmosphere.
            Is Cafe de l'Academia touristy? because it is smack in the middle of the Barri Gotic, it gets it share of visitors but also popular with locals who work nearby. "Really good"?, I would not put it as one of the top restaurant but the traditional cooking with creative touches is good and the ambience is pleasant. It makes a good choice.
            Thursday dinner: I don't know what your budget is for a nice place. I would definitely give one of the moderan Catalan a try. Barcelona has some of the best and are not expensive given the quality. If you prefer meat and poultry and if you are interested in taking a tasting menu, just ask them if they would accommendate you. Most are very flexible; or order a la carte as there will be non-seafood choices. Around 50euro per person without wine, etc, try Hisop, Gresca, L'Olive are very good. Con Gracia is probably in that category but I have not eaten there. These are small chef own restaurants and not meant to be 'lively'. But they are not formal places and depends on diners that evening, can have a lively buzz. For something more tradtiona,l Fonda Gaig is probably the best of the new type of places: crowded and lively. A little more traditona is Pla in the Barri Gotic. Barcelona is dressy but not formal; no sportcoat is ever needed.
            Sunday dinner at Cherif; the food is good; the earlier poster pointed out that Cherif is closed Sunday night. For Barceloneta, my advice is to eat a midday meal on Sunday when it is lively, full of local families out for their tradtional Sunday get together. A few good places are open Sunday night but evenings are very quiet and even good places can feel like a tomb.
            Hope the above help.

            1. re: PBSF

              Hi PBSF,

              Thanks for your advice. This is very thorough and helpful for planning. If you ever come to Hong Kong and want any restaurant suggestions, please let me know!


              1. re: chloehk

                Thank you so much for the kind offer. Actually, I am originally from Hong Kong, centuries ago I might add; sadly I don't get to return often enough.

                1. re: PBSF

                  Oh, how interesting! What wonderful cuisine-universes you have lived in ;-)

            2. re: chloehk

              Since you say that your s.o. "likes a comfortable room with good chairs (not stools or anything rickety)" then you might want to note that seating at Paco Meralgo is all stools. (Go to their website click Gallery and then "dining room"


              Just to forewarn! :)