Barcelona: Cheap + vegetarian = mission impossible?
My wife and I are spending a week in Barcelona in June/July, we'll be staying in both L'Eixample, near La Sagrada Familia, and Sant Antoni, near Placa de Espanya.
As much as I'm looking forward to this trip, and getting my fill of Spanish/Catalan cuisine, I've been reading this forum and travel guides and getting a little worried, for a couple of reasons.
Every time I look at the exchange rate between the dollar and euro, I want to cry a little bit. Are there good meals to be had in Barcelona for under 20 euros per person? Places with menus del dia for lunch look promising, what are some of your favorites? Is our best bet to keep costs down to fill up at lunch and just snack for dinner? What are some of your favorite tapas or pinxtos spots that provide the best bang for the buck?
But here's where it gets even more complicated: my wife is a vegetarian - dairy, but no meat or fish. Of all the restaurants I've seen recommended here on Chowhound, almost none have any vegetarian options. I've looked at vegetarian websites like sincarne.net, but most of those restaurants seem too "healthy," if you know what I mean.
Are there restaurants that can satisfy both my wife and I? I've heard that tapas bars can be better for vegetarians that sit-down restaurants, but is that really the case? Would my wife just be eating cheese and olives all the time?
Is cheap + vegetarian possible in Barcelona? Or should we just buy stuff from local markets to feed ourselves most days? And if we wanted to splurge on a dinner one night - say, 50 euros person - is there a good higher-end place that could accommodate carnivores and vegetarians?
Thanks for any help!
You can do cheap+vegetarian in Barcelona. I was mostly veg last year on our trip (2 or 3 meals with meat in 9 days). We were very casual with our eating last year, with no advanced reservations, so I'm sorry I can't give you a list of where we ate. But, at every tapas place there will be veg options. We had a couple of menu del dias with veg a veg option. We ate at sit down restaurants that worked for me too.
Moo has a vegetarian tasting menu; perhaps that would be good for your splurge dinner.
Any tapas places will have good selection of vegetarian items: salads, grilled vegetables or a la plancha, salads, cheeses, seasonal vegetables such as asparagus, artichopkes. Except for a few designer tapas places, most recommended on this board are inexpensive.
Selection for vegetarians in everyday places such as Sant Joan, Foxos, Golidard, Can Lluis, Anima, Can Mano, La Cova Fumada are fewer but there will be some form of legume, rice, vegetable stew, egg dishes that the Spanish does so well, large salad, stuffed pasta. Most have a menu del dia for around 10 to 12e but the choices are very limited but one may find something. These menus are only offer on weekdays at lunch.
For splurge, most modern Catalan restaurant will do a vegetarian tasting menu. Ask when you reserve and be specific on what your wife will eat. 50euro pp before wine (include service and tax), try Hisop, Olive, Coure, Embat, Cat181. The above mentioned Moo is way over what you budgeted.
One will tend to find more variety and complicated vegetarian preparations in tapas places. In most pintxos places in Barcelona, one will find bite sizes goodies. There will be many selections but simplers.
Selections in tapas/pintxos places change all the time. Except for the high-concept places, these are everyday places that serve a good variety ofof simple food: just go and try some and enjoy oneselves. Not every item will be 'hits' but most food recommended on this board are good. Many are scattered together, therefore, try one and if it is not to your liking, more to the next. The cost is minimal. For large variety, go to PacoMeralgo, Cerverseria Catalana, Tapac24, Bar de Pla, Bar Mut, La Bodegueta, El Portalon. Some are very atmospheric and gives a true sense of color. Or go up to Gracia where its mosly locals and try Sureny, Manolo, L'Esquinica.
El Ravel is where many vegetarians like to go: Pla des Angels and Risolis are couple of good choices but the area around MACBA is full of nice informal cafes, great for midday.
Hi, it is getting better by the day, but it is still a bit of a strain getting good veggie (meal - not tapas/raciones) options in every day places. Only last week, for example, I had to help organise a menú del noche for 62 visiting students and teachers - of whom several were vegetarians. I went over the menu several times with the restaurant owner days before they arrived and we agreed on mixed salad or hot creamed vegetables for starters and pasta and tortilla berenjena (aubergine/eggplant) or tortilla española (potato) or tortilla calabacín (courgette) with pebrots (peppers) and/or fries for a second course. First course arrives - salad with liberal amounts of canned tuna! Even today many Spanish people do not think of jamón iberico as being 'meat'. Strange but true.
Having said all that it is possible to be vegetarian and eat well in Barcelona - there are now numerous good vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona - but the trick is to find somewhere where vegetarians and their carnivore nearest and dearest can eat too and no-one feels awkward, stupid or left out.
For everyday good honest menú del día type fare and a fantastic range of tapas where both vegetarians and meat/fish eaters can indulge themselves normally (i.e. in a non-specialist vegetarian bar-restaurant) then you could try Bar Morryssom -http://bit.ly/x5sIRJ - they do a good menú del día for around €9 which often features such delights as goats cheeese paella.
And, at this time of year - el Quaresme - Lent - vegetarians can safely indulge in sausages - yes - botifarra d'ou - sausages made with egg, potato and onion (and other egg-based variations but always meatless) and calçots - wonderful chargrilled hybrid of rascallions and leeks served with a romesco sauce based on either almond or hazelnuts, and garlic and oil.
Enjoy Barcelona - regards.