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Mar 17, 2012 10:21 AM

barcelona in June with elderly father

Hello fellow chowhounds. I am planning a trip to barcelona in June with my father. He loves his food but has had a few health issues lately. I'm looking for restaurants that offer good Catalan/ Spanish food. Realistically we won't be fighting our way to the counter to bag the best tapas, or propping up the bar and shouting over ear splitting music. Ideally, I'd like recommendations on family friendly places, and nice cafes especially if they do churros. Obviously, we'd like to avoid tourist traps and soulless chains. I speak reasonable Spanish (alas no catalan) so language shouldn't be an issue.
We'' ll be staying north of the ramblas but location isn't a big issue, I'm sure we can taxi it.

Thanks for any suggestions

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  1. We visited Barcelona (from Seattle) for 6 days in November and the food was mind-blowing. I would really recommend Café de L'Academia for you and your dad. It is in an old buidling in the Barrie Gothic that radiates quiet charm. Serves Spanish and Portugese food. I had one of their house specialties, a partridge stuffed with duck liver. Truly a memorable dish. Here's a link to a review on Frommers:

    We also had a spectacular meal at Commerc 24 but it really a scene so probably not great for your dad.

    1. Catalan/Spanish food run the whole spectrum from down home everyday, seafood/arroz/paella, traditional to molecular. Most restaurants in Barcelona are run by very friendly people, therefore, I wouldn't worry about them being family friendly places. In everyday neighborhood places, one might get a warmer welcome than visitors but only very rarely that visitors are not make to feel welcome.
      As for your elderly father, other than his age that might require a little more space, comfortable chairs, etc, does he have any other preferences (such as my late elderly father hated loud noises) or diet restrictions. Also some idea of your budget would be helpful. Hopefully with all that, you'll get some appropriate recommendations. Keep in mind that evening meals at sit down restaurants start serving at 8:30pm at the earliest and some at 9. Even at those hours, the restaurant will be empty or occupied by foreign visitors.
      As for churros, they are not the specialty of Catalonia. There are a number of comfortable cafes on c/Petritxol off Las Ramblas in the Barri Gotic that have them (including hot chocolate, coffee and some traditional pastries). The problem is that most fry a big batch and keep them on a warming tray for service.If one is lucky to get them when they just come off the fryer, that's when they are worth eating. That area of Barri Gotic is pedestrianized. As for other cafes, are you looking for breakfast places, places to rest during the day? That would depend where you are staying at and what sights.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        Thanks so much Bourbongal and PBSF. Cafe de l'academia sounds great and we'll definitely go there. PBSF your comments are very helpful. Maybe I'm being over anxious, i know and love Spain and it's true there's usually a high degree of tolerance and accomodating behaviour wherever you go. I'd say we're mid budget, not too interested in molecular cuisine, just very fond of well cooked, mediterranean food and without dietary restrictions. Loud noises, blaring music would be best avoided. Good point about churros, on reflection the best ones I've had have always been in the South- Cadiz is great for them. We'll just have to try the local pastries.
        Yes, cafes would be for breakfast (the hotel doesn't do them) or afternoon coffee. Anywhere specially good in Barcelona would be worth knowing about. We're staying in calle Pau Claris but will explore different areas- Eixample, Barri Gotic etc.

        1. re: whataboutbob

          For me, mid budget for Barcelona would be around 40-50 euros for a 3 course dinner at a nice restaurant with some space between tables and comfortable chairs. There are good places in the center so that one doesn't have to venture too far out.
          In the Eixample (where your hotel on Pau Claris is at): two newer places are Fonda Gaig and Petit Comite. Both are run by excellent chefs that are adept at cooking very highend places. Fonda Gaig has a feel of a large lively bistro but it is not overly noisy or formal. Petit Comite has the advantage of service throughout the day so one doesn’t have to subscribe to the late dining hours of Barcelona. Both serve a lightened version of traditional Catalan cooking. L’Olive is smaller, a touch more creative and not as expensive as the first two. For more of the 'old Catalan' ambience, Can Valles and Vinya Roel are very good; the latter especially for wine. Taktika Berri, one of the best pintxos place, has a rear room that serves very good Basque food. It is lively and more casual.
          In the old city, Casa Calvet is a beautiful restaurant serving very good traditional Catalan food. More toward fine dining and a little more expensive. A less expensive option is PLA in the Barri Gotic. Also the above recommended Café de L’Academia. Even more modest are two fairly good places. Ca’Estevet with old ambience near MACBA in El Ravel and Senyor Parallada in Born. The food at the latter is decent but it has one of the most pleasant dining room (street floor only). The menu is fun to read because it has just about everything.
          For arroz, paella and seafood, Barceloneta on Sunday midday is the place to be. There are tons of options. The best are Kaiku, Can Ros, Suquet de l’Admirall. Stay away from those right on the Pg Joan de Borbo. This area is where local families gather for their Sunday outing.
          If you and your father are in Barcelona for any length of time, I think it is a shame not to give one of the modern Catalan restaurants a try. Many of them are not as molecular as one is led to believe and much of the food is very accessible. There are also many more modest everyday places but are quite basic and barebone. Don’t know if you are interested in those.
          As for cafes:
          Breakfast is not a big deal (usually coffee and pastry), therefore, I would pick places near where you are staying at. I am more familiar with the lower part of Pau Claris near Placa de Catalunya. If you are staying in the other end of Pau Claris near the Diagonal, I am not much help. On the lower Pau Claris, the Bracafe chain has several outlets nearby: corner of c/Deputacio and Pg de Gracia, two on c/Casp. All open early and have table service. These places are where most locals grab their first coffee. The first couple blocks of Rambla de Catalunya has some of the best pasteleries, including Mauri with table service and Forn de Sant Jaume with only counter seating. These are very near most of the Modernista building on Pg de Gracia. Down on Las Ramblas is Escriba, a beautiful old style pasteleria with a small seating area in the back. The café at the Palau de la Musica de Catalana (a great building) in Born has one of the most inviting café anywhere; roomy, airy, comfortable; my favorite place for breakfast and anytime, but it doesn’t open until 9am. There is another wonderful café inside the Museu d’Historia in the Barri Gotic.
          As for cafés near sights, they are everywhere in Barcelona, therefore you will not have problem finding them. The weather in June will be warm, therefore, outdoor seating will be terrific around MACBA in El Ravel; in front of the Catedral; on Santa Maria del Mar in El Born where the excellent wine bar Vinya del Senyor is at. Also the nearby Pg del Born with lots of terrace seating cafes. All great for people watching.

      2. Thanks PBSF all your tips sound wonderful, I'll print the post off and take it with me. The cafes in museums will really hit the spot, 2 dad friendly activities in 1 place! I hope we also just try some places on impulse, because they look nice, and I promise to report back.