Feedback on Barcelona Itinerary - Sept 2011
I'll be traveling solo in a couple of weeks to Europe (my first time) and spending 4 full days in Barcelona (my only destination in Spain). I'll be landing Sunday early morning and leaving Thurs morning.
I live in NYC and I've been lucky enough to eat at a lot of the best restaurants in the US. I'm very excited to try European cuisine in Europe, especially the Spanish.
So far I have the following:
Sunday & Monday - no solid plans. Probably visit/eat in La Boqueria on Monday. I know it's closed on Sundays. I'm staying in a hotel in the Gothic Quarter, and for Sunday, I'll probably try and look for some local restaurants that are open Sundays.
Tuesday - 2pm lunch reservations at Sant Pau. I was a little hesitant in traveling out of Barcelona with only 4 days there, but after reading a few strong recommendations on this board, I'm most likely going to go. Initially, I would have preferred to go to Can Roca, but unfortunately, I couldn't get a reservation either the Monday or Tuesday that I'm there.
Wed - 7pm dinner reservations at Tickets (had to book 3 months in advance!). Then I decided to make 10:30pm reservations at 41 degrees for a couple of drinks just to check it out. I'm traveling solo, but hopefully I meet some cool people there.
Please critique or recommend some additions to my eating itinerary. It will be greatly appreciated.
Lastly, I've read so many great things about Cinc Sentits on this board. They are open for lunch and dinner Tues - Sat. I'm only there Sunday to Thurs morning. Should I try squeezing it in with my current Tues and Wed itinerary? I read on this board not to really plan dinner after having lunch at Sant Pau (Tues lunch). And I'm afraid I might be still full when I get to Tickets (7pm reservation) if I go to Cinc Sentits for lunch on Wed (earliest reservation would probably be 1:30pm). Maybe if I do the simpler "Essencia" menu at Cinc Sentits?
Thanks in advance.
Sunday: Barcelona is generally quiet on Sundays as most sit down restaurants are closed, including most of the modern Catalan places. One area that is busy with restaurant activities is Barceloneta when local families have their big midday meals; mostly seafood simply cooked and rices dishes. That would be my first choice. If your flight is from Europe to Barcelona (no jet lag), either eat at the counter PacoMeralgo for traditional tapas or go down to El Born as many of the tapas/pintxos places are opened. Definitely make a detour to the edge of Barceloneta to visit El Vaso de Oro.
Monday: for this day, about 70% of the vendors are opened; except for El Quim, the bars are all open.
Tuesday: Sant Pau is definitely worth the trip. Better than any restaurant in Barcelona. I love El Celler de Can Roca and is one of my favorite but Sant Pau is unique in its own way. You should still have the morning for sightseeing and be back in Barcelona by around 5 to 6pm. I would eat lightly for the evening; another chance to eat tapas/pintxtos in El Born or in the Eixample.
Wednesday: never been to Tickets or 41 degrees.
Cinc Sentits: this is one of the most consistent modern Catalan restaurant in Barcelona. It has become many peoples first choice but for me it is not the most exciting in terms of food and definitely not in terms of ambience. The English speaking staff is very friendly which might contribute to its popularity. It is not to say Cinc Sentits is not good but rather a 'safest' choice. For modern Catalan food without being overly molecular, I would choose others over it: Alkimia (more creative), Sauc (more rustic and full flavor), Gaig (better overall). I would reserve at Alkimia for Monday night instead of trying to have lunch at Cinc Sentits on Wednesday before Tickets. That will also allow you more day time for sightseeing.
Since this is your first trip to Barcelona and Spain, might consider a more traditional Catalan place such as PLA or Fonda Gaig. They may not have the excitement of the modern Catalan places but it gives a more rounded picture of Catalan food. It is not all molecular.
PBSF - thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough response. I've seen your great responses to other CHers and will take great heed of your advice.
Yes, I definitely want to experience the Catalan cuisine/flavor during my trip. And I'm now 100% sold on Sant Pau (plus I believe I get to see the coast on the train).
I think I can understand your view on Cinc Sentits. I'll probably skip it on this trip, but I'll hit it up on a future return trip (I know I'm going to love Spain).
Yes - you can actually see the trains go by in the back court of the restaurant. It is about a 3 minute walk. If you have Google Earth you can see how close it is. If you have some time, take a walk around St. Pol - small town but some impressive architecture.
I was there last year, and was very impressed Chef Ruscadella came out after the meal and greeted each table.
I just posted on my Sunday choices in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/805328
El Vaso de Oro was closed for vacation so we didn't get to try it but have heard from multiple sources that it's terrific so stop by if you can.
We had dinner at Tickets last Friday night. I'll post more detail on it later this week but it was a great experience. Very playful, lots of fun, and made me smile (unlike the downer of an evening we had at Comerc 24).
Also in La Boqueria check out Universal and Bar Pinotxcho in addition to El Quim. Below is a recent blog entry on Universal. We walked by and saw all the beautiful fish and mushrooms piled up ready to be cooked, but had other lunch plans so couldn't linger to try anything. http://www.elizabethminchilliinrome.c...
Monday isn't really the best day for the Boqueria - you'll miss the variety of fresh seafood you'll find on other days (but that's true of the city as a whole). Seafood is the thing that even the best restaurants in the US fall down on so I'd recommend focusing on that, assuming you like seafood. I'd go to El Vaso de Oro for beef tenderloin, foie gras, bikinis, brochetas and other meaty things on Monday.
Sunday is the day for arros or fideua. You'll find plenty of info on that here.
The basque style pintxos bars are also good for Mondays and Sundays.