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May 2, 2013 07:43 AM

Barcelona/San Sebastian/Bilbao/Burgos/Madrid ... in AUGUST.

Hi there! I'm a teacher foodie from Toronto who'll be heading to Spain for my first time in August (I know... it's hot, and everything's closed) with my husband. We're in our early 30s, DINKs, interested in exciting, authentic, off-the-tourist-path, happening places to eat and drink with good cava/beer/wine/cocktails and great ambiance. We don't mind loud, but we want some nicer experiences too (and I know already...TICKETS as Ascador Extebarri will be closed.)

Looking for any and all suggestions you have. We have 3 dinners in BCN and Madrid, and 2 dinners in SS, and 1 each in Bibao and Burgos. Also looking for lunch/market/snack ideas as well as any can't-miss food tourist things.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. I was there at end of August last year, and also found difficulty (e.g Can Roca also closed as were many others). But we took the train to Sant Pau (about an hour from Barcelona) and had the best meal of our lives to that point (have to admit 41 degrees beat it 2 days later).
    STRONGLY recommend go there for a very long lunch one day (Michelin 3*). Evening menu is identical.
    In Barcelona Tapas24 was also open - well worth a try.
    A couple of years back was at Akelare in SS in August and still rates as my favourite meal of the area. In particular offered two separate tasting menus (one modern, one more traditional) so we could try twice as many dishes.
    As for 'off-the-beaten-path' - they were mostly closed and we wasted much time trying to fnd them! But hopefully people with more local knowledge will help.

    1 Reply
    1. Barcelona:
      A nice authentic place but not too touristy I like to go to in Barcelona is Can Valles ( Its not Michelin starred or anything like that but its a place a lot of locals go to and it serves truly authentic Catalan cuisine. Their pork trotter cannelloni is something I continue to dream about to this day. Also, something I never had before but was so nice was their reindeer carpaccio.

      I agree with estufarian below re: Sant Pau. Its a bit of a hidden gem and truly a remarkable experience. Chef Ruscalleda's play on colours is amazing, and the dishes are just as tasty.

      Tapas24 is pretty good, but because it is just off Paseig de Gracia, it does get quite touristy.

      Also, you can never go wrong with El Quim de la Boqueria and Pinotxo bar in La Boqueria market for lunch or a snack.

      San Sebastian:
      The 3 and 2 Michelin restaurants are always a treat. Arzak is my favourite with Mugaritz coming a close second. Since you've been Akelare, I don't think you've made a bad choice. It has an amazing view and the food is great as well.

      One place that serves truly authentic old school Basque cuisine, has an amazing wine cellar and extensive wine list is a place called Rekondo. Like Can Valles, its not Michelin startted or anything but I would highly recommend it. You can go there for lunch as well.

      One place I love going to in Madrid is the Mercado de San Miguel. Its right by Plaza Mayor and is just a mix of different food stalls all packed under one roof. Its really nice.

      Hope this helps you a little bit. Enjoy your trip!

      2 Replies
      1. re: foodtyblog

        I was in Barcelona in August and Pinotxo bar was closed for the month. I did go to Tapas24 and enjoyed well as other tapas bars, mainly in the Born area of the city.

        I also enjoyed a meal at Casa Botin (oldest in the world) in Madrid, more for the history than anything. The suckling pig and some squid ink'd squid. Pricey for what it was though, but very memorable.

        1. re: foodtyblog

          We ate at Rekondo in San Sebastian in May and didn't love it. If you're going for the steak, I'd recommend Bar Nestor in old town instead. The steak was much, much better and less expensive, and the atmosphere was more fun as well.

          In Barcelona we loved Passadis del Pep.

        2. Bumping this, as we're getting close to the trip.

          Our only firm plans so far: lunch at Akelarre and lunch at the Bistro in the Bilbao Guggenheim.

          I'd like to do one or two reservations in advance for Barcelona or Madrid. I know many things are closed in August, but have found some places that will be open.

          What are the board's thoughts on ALLIUM and/or ROCA MOO and/or CINQ SENTIS? I'd like to do one of those three if we can. What about CAL PEP, PACO MERALGO or TAPAC 24?

          For the rest of our BCN leg, we'll just follow the many tapas bar reccos we've read on the board and received from friends. For San Sebastian, we're doing much of the same. Especially looking for place open Sundays.

          If anyone has any dinner tips for Burgos, that would be great.

          Lastly, looking for any and all tips for Madrid. Anything open in August and with non-game/offal choices would be ideal!

          Thanks again!

          5 Replies
          1. re: LemonLauren

            re: Allium/Roca Moo/Cinq Sentits - I'll just say that allium isn't really at the level of the later two (nor does it apsire to be, it's simpler and cheaper - I'd go for the munu al dia for lunch).
            For a snack and drink on the beach Carles Abellan, chef/owner of Comerc & Tapas 24 has a new place on the beach in Barceloneta.

            1. re: caganer

              Thanks! I have a dinner booked at Moo, but do you think just the bar at Moo is nice, too? The only time Cinq Sentis has is lunch. Is it worth using up a nice meal budget on a lunch?

              1. re: LemonLauren

                Cinc Sentits (please note the spelling as it is probably the most misspelled restaurant on this entire sight), like many top restaurants in Barcelona, is no different between lunch and dinner; same food, same service. The restaurant changes their menu concept constantly; check with them what menus they are offering for lunch/dinner when you make your reservation request. It also depends if you want to spend two or three hours during the middle of the day rather than sightseeing. Also take into account what other restaurants that you are interested are open when you visit in August.
                As for the Bar at Moo which I have not eaten at, it is probably fine for a few snack if that is what you are looking for. Lots of fusion inspired food. If you want to experience Roca Moo which is more Catalan inspired, have dinner at the dining room. Even so, don't expect it to be El Celler de Can Roca in Girona.

            2. re: LemonLauren

              We didn't get to Cal Pep or Tapac 24, but I loved Paco Meralgo.

              1. re: whatsfordinner

                thanks! will see what we end up being able to do!