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Barcelona Foodies Trip, What did I miss?

a
arnage Nov 8, 2012 12:27 PM

My fiancé and I are spending 3 nights in Barcelona prior to a 10 night cruise (to Palma de Mallorca, Malta, Sicily, Naples, Rome and Florence!), and one night (Monday Xmas Eve) after the cruise in Barcelona before we fly out the morning of Christmas Day. I put together the following itinerary for Barcelona after reading every chowhound thread on this city, dating to a year back. We haven't booked a hotel yet but are looking at Casa Camper or Hotel 1898 for the first 3 nights as their locations are centralized. We may book Europark on Xmas Eve due to its Eixample location. I am looking forward to all the seafood/tapas culture, but my fiancé is not big on seafood unless it's fried or raw (such as sashimi) as he is a big meat eater. We would appreciate any input and any must not miss dishes at the places we are visiting :)

Day 1 Tuesday (taking it easy after red eye flight from nyc):
Breakfast: La Pallaresa Chocolate Restauant for hot chocolate/churros
Lunch: El Quim de la Boqueria and/or Pinotxo
Stop by Escriba chocolate shop for treats including the chocolate croissant
Snack: If we're not sick of hot chocolate churros, stop by La Granja for hot chocolate and buy churros a few doors down.
Dinner: Cal Pep (we plan to be there at 7:30 when they open), otherwise if the wait is long, we'll go to Bar Celta or Euskal Etxea?

Attractions we're planning to visit:
Las Ramblas/Gothic Quarter
Palace of Catalan Music (is the tour worth it? unfortunately there isn't a performance happening that appeals to us)
Picasso Museum
Eglesia de Santa Maria del Mar (is it worth it to pay to visit the roof?)
El Born
Guell Palace (if we're not exhausted by this point, or we will visit this on Thurs instead)

Day 2 Wednesday:
Lunch: Alkimia
Dinner: Cinc Sentits

Attractions we're planning to visit:
Placa Sagrada Familia (before lunch)
Guell Park (after lunch)
Casa Batllo
La Pedrera - Mila House (if we have time)

Day 3 Thursday
Breakfast: If we didn't go on Tues, stop by La Granja for hot chocolate/churros
Lunch: Pinotxo at the market (if didn't visit on Tues), otherwise if we need a break from Tapas, we may eat at Koy Shunka (or Comerc24?)
Snack: Quimet & Quimet (if time permits)
Dinner: Reservation at Hisop, however may go to Tickets at 7 to see if there are any cancellations (are my odds of getting a table worth the trek?)

Attractions we're planning to visit:
Guell Palace (if we didn't visit on Tues)
Mirador de Colon
take cable car to Montjuïc (have to figure out how to do this, online descriptions sound confusing to a non native)
walk down to Magic fountain (sad there won't be a show)

Day 4 Friday
Lunch: Cerveceria Catalana
Boarding cruiseship in the afternoon

Day after Cruise Monday Xmas Eve
Lunch: Paco Meralgo
Dinner: Gelonch

Planning to visit:
Passeig de Gracia for some relaxing shopping
perhaps La Pedrera - Mila House

Some general questions:
1) On the short list of restaurants we're considering eating at instead of one of the options above (should we sub in any of the below?):
Kaiku
Comerc24
Tapas 24
Euskal Etxea
Bar Celta
Abac (should we sub in for Cinc Sentits/Hisop/Gelonch)?
Gresca
Dos Palillos
Vioko (is this gelato/chocolate shop worth a visit? It's not near anything we're visiting)

2) We are planning to walk a lot and thus are considering a centralized hotel. However to get to Sagrada Familia/Guell Park/Montjuic, I'm assuming the metro is the fastest/cheapest method to travel? Are there 3 day metro passes to buy or it won't be worth it if we're walking a ton?

3) We looked at Barcelona Card, Museum Card etc but they don't seem worth it for the attractions we're visiting. Are there any other discounts available? (the Paris Museum pass was so handy)

4) We're considering a day trip to Montserrat, perhaps on Xmas Eve but we're not sure if it'll be too stressful. Should we just stay in Barcelona to enjoy the city more leisurely?

5) Is the beach worth a visit or it'll be too cold in December?

Thank you in advance for your input and reading my long post!

  1. a
    arnage Nov 9, 2012 07:29 PM

    Thanks everyone for your thoughtful advice!

    PBSF, I think I was overly ambitious in trying to eat at every single famed modern Catalan restaurant and will probably forego Gresca lunch, and stick with Alkimia lunch, Cinc Sentits dinner, Hisop dinner and Gelonch dinner. We will forego an Abac meal due to its location and so we can spend our budget on two meals instead :)

    For lunch thursday, I am now debating between Cafe L'academia for traditional Catalan cuisine (and to take advantage of their menu del dia), or Can Mano (due to your recommendation).

    When we first arrive on Tuesday morning, we wanted to grab a flauta de jamon iberico and was wondering if we should go to Cafe Viena for this or Escriba (read good reviews on both places)?

    And for some yummy ice cream/gelato, should we check out Gelaaati Di Marco/Arcobaleno/Vioko?

    Thanks again!

    7 Replies
    1. re: arnage
      PBSF Nov 9, 2012 09:33 PM

      "Overly ambititous": for me, having lunch at Alkimia then dinner Cinc Sentits, plus squeezing in large amount of sightseeing in between would be. Besides the large amount of food and hours of sitting, both are serious restaurants that requires mental energy to process what one is eating. Sort of like deja vu when dinner comes around. Same if you decide on Comerc24 then Hisop/Ticket plus trying to squeeze in Quimet y Quimet. It comes down to the individual, some can do it. Still, with lots of sightseeing, it is a very ambitious schedule and lots of rushing around..
      I have never taken the menu del dia at Cafe L'Academia but it is a very pleasant restaurant with very good food. If you do, make sure you get there right before it opens or make a reservation. It is popular with the bureaucrats at the nearby Jaume and tend to be packed for midday meal. Can Mano is a simple no frill local place; straight forward stick to the rib food. Most lightly, you will rub elbows with locals putting away the combination lunch plates. The fried food is very good as well as any pork or the sausage with beans.
      I don't find anything special with Cafe Viena except that it has been 'discovered' since the New York Times article a couple years back. Can't go wrong with jamon iberico and bread. As for Escriba on Las Ramblas, it is one of the best and most beautiful pastry shop in Barcelona. I don't remember they have flauta de jamon; I love it for breakfast with it's French style flakey buttery croissants and especially the sweet coca with pinenuts. Also some of the best panellets and neules. Christmas should be extra special.
      Ice cream: if you like ice cream, try them all since it is a small investment and shops all over the Old City. Vioko is good, fine if you are in Barceloneta but not worth trekking over just for that. I also like Arcobaleno but my favorites are Tomo II and Cremeria Toscana; their ice cream are less sweet and cleaner tasting. Not a fan of di Marco if it is the one on c/Llbreteria.

      1. re: PBSF
        caganer Nov 10, 2012 05:07 AM

        Escriba seems to have added to their savory offerings in the last year or so, or at least emphasized them more - I wouldn't be surprised if they do have a bocadillo/flauta de jamon, or if the ham were Iberico.
        I think the only really noteworthy difference between the Viena sandwich and others is that the bread is better than average - crisp crust and soft, light crumb.
        Along these lines, Bubo across from Santa Maria del Mar has a good bocadillo (again, good bread), excellent croissants and their pastry and chocolate shop next -door is among the best in town (I'd probably say better than Escriba but it's also much more modern so not an apples-to-apples comparison).

        1. re: caganer
          PBSF Nov 10, 2012 10:03 AM

          Thank you for the update on Escriba. Next time, will have to pay closer attention to their savory offerings.

          1. re: PBSF
            a
            arnage Nov 11, 2012 10:59 AM

            thanks everyone! We're planning to have the prefix lunch menu at Alkimia so hopefully we'll still be able to handle a tasting at Cinc Sentits for dinner.

            Any thoughts on Cerveceria Catalana vs Ciudad Condal for lunch on friday before we board the cruise? They seem pretty similar.

            We will report back!

            1. re: arnage
              SnackHappy Nov 11, 2012 01:40 PM

              They are pretty much the same (same owners and format). They're both passable tapas joints. I wouldn't go out of my way to visit either one of them.

              1. re: arnage
                PBSF Nov 11, 2012 02:07 PM

                As for food, same opinion as the above on Cerveceria Catalana and Ciudad Condal. Only good for convenience and very late at night when it is great for people watching.

          2. re: PBSF
            h
            Haarlson Nov 11, 2012 06:58 PM

            "As for Escriba on Las Ramblas, it is one of the best and most beautiful pastry shop in Barcelona."
            Are you sincere about this statement?
            There are many better, and more beautiful pastry shops than Escriba in Barcelona.
            Escriba just happens to be the most conveniently sighted by visitors.
            Regards.

        2. PBSF Nov 9, 2012 04:16 PM

          With 3 days in Barcelona, instead of lumping a list of eating places together, one need to figure out what types of eating places you are looking for. Tapas. pintxos, traditional or modernCatalan cooking, simple everyday eating places, etc. In choosing, you also need to take into account your partners preference of meat/poultry over seafood (except raw and fried). Also consider how much traveling you are willing to do get to a restaurant and also your budget.
          Kaiku would be a good choice if one want to eat arroz and seafood but not if one is looking for a more varied menu or modern Catalan cooking. Can Majo is similar to Kaiku but Can Mano is a simple, inexpensive everyday sort of place. No rice, no paella and we like it very much.
          From my experience, in most modern places such as Abac, Cinc Sentits, Hisop, Gelonch, Gresca, Comerc24, etc, there is a good amount of seafood (some raw but very little fried) on their menu. There will be some meat but if you are taking the tasting menu, make sure to address your partners preferences when you reserve. They will be able to accommodate his preference. As to which to choose, it depends on what type of ambience and budget. Abac is located in a beautiful hotel outside the city center and is more toward fine dining; a tasting menu will be about twice that of Hisop, Gelonch or Gresca. Comerc24 and Cinc Sentits are in between in term of cost with Comerc24 having more buzz, somewhat uneven food (some dishes are terrific) and service. It is the most fun. For me, there is not much a difference between Hisop, Gresca, Alkimia, Cinc Sentits though I have a slight preference for Hisop. Have not been to Gelonch or Dos Palillos.
          Tapas places such Paco Meralgo or Cal Pep will offer many choices, seafood cook all different manners, meat, vegetables, etc, therefore no problem if one is not a big seafood eater. Euskal Etxea is a simple Basque pintxos place; crowded with a standup bar and stools (no tables). Most items are on toothpicks or bread slices, plus a few simple hot items. It is located in El Born, an area that is loaded with tapas/pintxos places, all clustered closed together. The best way is to spend an evening hoping from one another. Can throw in Bar Celta and the like across via Laietana into the mix. Quimet y Quimet is stamp size standup only. Always packed around midday and late afternoon with very little elbow room. No hot food; much excellent canned seafood, cured meat and cheeses.
          If you are spending a lot of time sightseeing, plan your midday eating places where you'll be, otherwise, you'll be spending too much time traveling back and forth. Hope the above help in your decision.

          1. a
            arnage Nov 9, 2012 11:24 AM

            Thank you Haarison for your extensive reply even though your reply has disappeared from the site for some reason. I can't read SnackHappy's reply either :( Regardless, I did read Haarison's post before it was removed. Your tips are extremely helpful.

            I should have clarified La Granja I'm referring to is on Carrer Banys Nous. I apologize for the confusion.

            I have a few more questions:
            Do I need to buy advance tickets for Palace of Catalan Music or can I buy tickets for the tour at the door? I don't plan to buy advance tickets for any of the sights as I'm assuming in December the lines will be short but it seems that at the Palace of Catalan Music, it may be required?

            I can't seem to decide on a lunch place for Thursday before taking the cable car from Barceloneta/San Sebastia tower to Montjuic. Here are the ones I'm consider due to location (between hotel & Barceloneta):
            Cafe L'Academia
            Kaiku (for the paella but there have been some scathing reviews on trip advisor)
            Can Mano/Can Majo
            Dos Palillos
            Koy Shunka (since we may need a break from tapas)
            Any thoughts? We're planning to have a late dinner at Hisop (after a show at El Tablo del Carmen, where I think we'll just opt for the drinks option instead of tapas?)

            After El Tablo del Carmen show, is it worth the detour to stop by Tickets around 8:45pm (thurs night) to see if there is an opening?

            We will be at the Magic Fountain on Thursday Dec. 13th so I'm guessing there won't be a show then :( But I copied all your suggestions about the sights to see during our walk down from Montjuic.

            We are also planning to attend Mass at Santa Maria del Mar (thanks for the tip). Should we pay to visit the roof on a prior day?

            And any thoughts subbing in Comer24 (so many mixed reviews) for Gelonch/Hisop/Cinc Sentits?

            Also, should we opt to eat lunch at Gresca on Xmas Eve instead of Paco Meralgo (which our friend mentioned she thinks is overrated)?

            Thank you all so much for your input? We're so excited about visiting Barcelona!

            1 Reply
            1. re: arnage
              SnackHappy Nov 9, 2012 02:11 PM

              arnage, Chowhound likes to keep discussions strictly about food. Discussing travel plans outside of food and drink is strongly disouraged and will get your post removed. For travel discussion you should try the forums on Tripadvisor or Thorn Tree.

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