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Barcelona / San Sebastián + nearby

m
Mikeh20 Sep 2, 2012 03:31 PM

Hi all,

Looking for some great advice. First time to Europe but have travelled many places around the globe.

The details: solo traveller, late 20's male. Loves food, beaches, sightseeing, and hiking. Mid November.
10 days for Barcelona and San Sebastián area combined. Would like to include Bilbao, Bayonne/ Biarritz, and maybe Girona.

Using "open jaw" flights, my first destination will depend on price of flights. Thinking of taking the train to the next "area" vs flying.

I know either (or both) Asador Etxebarri and Mugaritz are musts in SB.

Can I please get some recommendations for casual/awesome places to eat in a bar/pintxo or other setting that is good for solo travelers?

Really appreciate all the feedback! Thanks!

  1. m
    Mikeh20 Sep 2, 2012 03:39 PM

    Wanted to add that the budget is on the low to medium end but a few splurges are a must...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Mikeh20
      erica Sep 3, 2012 07:28 AM

      There are reams of info here on both cities, so I would suggest a search first. All of the bars are very welcoming to solo diners. Are you planning to hire a car?

      1. re: erica
        m
        Mikeh20 Sep 3, 2012 07:41 AM

        Thanks Erica.

        Yes, I was planning on a car in the San Se area but not Barcelona.

    2. d
      debbiel Sep 3, 2012 02:19 PM

      A couple of my favorite Barcelona spots after several solo travel weeks the last year:

      Lolita. Went there a few times and looking forward to a return in January. A bit off the beaten path but easy enough. I still dream of the mini burger. I head there from Barri Gotic because I like it so.

      Bar Zim, tiny wine bar with great cheese sampler and embotit sampler options.

      Bar Celta, very casual, I loved hanging with some neighborhood locals there.

      So many more possibilities. As already suggested, also do a search here.

      Cafe de l'Academia for lunch or dinner, affordable modern-ish Catalan cuisine.

      2 Replies
      1. re: debbiel
        m
        Mikeh20 Sep 3, 2012 02:44 PM

        Good info, love the personalized recommendations! Thx

        1. re: debbiel
          Parigi Sep 3, 2012 11:29 PM

          Bar Celta is indeed one old locals hangout holdout. I like to go there only for a pre-dinner octopus and wine. I can't stay logner or my clothes will smell of the bar's historic grease. :-(
          Ceci dit, I am fond of it. It is the real "old" old Barcelona.

        2. Delucacheesemonger Sep 3, 2012 02:31 PM

          While Mugaritz is an excellent spot, you should know it is very 'foam' oriented and molecular. l prefer for my tastes to do Akelarre. Asador E is in a class by itself. Check previous threads on pintxos in San S and you will be bowled over. l will be there next week.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Delucacheesemonger
            m
            Mikeh20 Sep 3, 2012 02:44 PM

            Great info on the foam! Thanks for that and the other great tips.

            1. re: Mikeh20
              erica Sep 3, 2012 03:25 PM

              Here are a few notes from my trip last year. Included are a few details about Lolita, mentioned above and formerly known as Inopia. Their mini-burger is, indeed, very good.

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/769353

            2. re: Delucacheesemonger
              m
              ManInTransit Sep 4, 2012 05:36 AM

              That's an interesting comment Deluca. Have huge respect for your posts but our meal at Mugaritz was far from molecular and foam orientated. It was extremely modern but pushed boundaries in ingredients, textures etc but there wasn't a dry ice or a foam dish in sight. I thought that was more the preserve of Martin Berasategui.

              It was almost to the point where we felt the famous potatoes/stones was a bit of a false flag at the start of the meal.

              1. re: ManInTransit
                Delucacheesemonger Sep 4, 2012 05:53 AM

                Sorry, had meant as you said pushed boundaries, thus away from traditional food.

              2. re: Delucacheesemonger
                shekamoo Sep 5, 2012 06:00 PM

                Lest the OP miss out on what I find to be some of the best dining experience on the planet for fear of foams and molecules, I should just say that our dinner at Mugritz in July was not 'foam'y at all. Innovative, full of surprises, refreshing, are far more appropriate adjectives.

                1. re: shekamoo
                  m
                  ManInTransit Sep 6, 2012 06:59 AM

                  Mugaritz tends to polarise people more than most other restaurants. This is a great article which I think explains why.

                  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

                  1. re: ManInTransit
                    shekamoo Sep 6, 2012 07:00 PM

                    Interesting read, thank you. To clarify, I do appreciate the debate around Mugaritz. I just wanted to point out that avoiding foams and molecular gimmickry is not a reason to avoid Mugaritz, based on my experience. There may however be other reasons to avoid it for some people, chief among them would be its significant departure from any notion of traditionality.

                    1. re: shekamoo
                      m
                      ManInTransit Sep 7, 2012 01:59 AM

                      Yes I completely agree with you.

                      Our evening at Mugaritz was the best night out at a restaurant I have ever had.

                      However if you took the food in isolation and ate it at home then compared to other meals it would hardly make the top 10. It was certainly challenging!

                      I do think the stones/potatoes are a bit strange, I know they are something of a signature pre-dinner serving now but they do rather point at whimsy and surprise in the way that the rest of a meal there studiously avoids.

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