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Oct 2, 2013 05:02 PM

Suggestions for fine dining Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon

My husband and I are visiting Spain and Portugal for the first time from the United States. We are self described foodies and enjoy trying restaurants that are hidden treasures. We particularly love seafood, but are open to all kinds of cuisine. Most importantly, I want to make reservations far in advance for places that will fill up.

I would love suggestions for restaurants in any and all of the following cities on our itinerary:

Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo (lunch only), Cordoba (lunch only), Granada, Seville, and Lisbon.

We are day tripping to Toledo and Cordoba so unfortunately won't get to sample much. Also, where can we find authentic, not the tourista, paella?

Muchas gracias! Lisa

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  1. Here's a couple of paella threads:

    I'm headed to Spain in the latter part of October so I can't vouch for the tastiness of any of the restaurants. How many days are you staying in each city? If you are staying for only a couple of days each, eating 3 to 4 hour meals might distract you from seeing the other sights in the area. Unless, of course, that's what you're going there for. I can share with you what I've gathered though.

    Madrid: My choices were El Club Allard, La Terraza del Casino and Diverxo. I booked El Club Allard.

    Barcelona: My choices were Sant Pau, El Celler de Can Roca, Cinc Sentits. I managed to book Can Roca. You will need to book far in advance for this one now. Also booked Tickets. It's a tapas bar from the Adria brothers. It's not exactly fine dining but have heard good things about it.

    1. Some tips in Madrid.
      A temple of seafood for splurge dining: O'Pazo

      Unpretentious restaurants, bars, hole-in-the-walls:
      O'Pulpo on Calle Cañizares # 8, nearby Plaza Santa Ana. Pulpo a feira (boiled octopus dressed with veg oil and paprika), almejas a la marinera (clams in sauce).

      La Casa del Abuelo on Calle Victoria # 12, nearby the Puerta del Sol. Gambas al ajillo (shrimp in garlic).

      Taberna Alhambra on Calle Victoria # 9, nearby the Puerta del Sol. Mojama (salt-cured tuna).

      El Rocío on Pasaje Matheu # 2, nearby the Puerta del Sol. Tigre (mussel that has been stuffed, breaded and fried).

      Casa Labra on Calle Tetuán # 12, next to the Puerta del Sol. Croquetas de bacalao (cod croquettes). Atún en escabeche (pickled tuna).

      Revuelta on Calle Latoneros # 3, nearby the Plaza Mayor. Pincho de bacalao (battered cod snack).

      Bodegas Ricla on Calle Cuchilleros # 6, nearby the Plaza Mayor. Boquerones en vinagre (fresh anchovies marinated in vinegar). Beverage: vermut de grifo (vermouth on draught).

      La Campana on Calle Botoneras # 6, next to the Plaza Mayor. Calamari sandwich.

      La Barra de Sandò on Plaza Santo Domingo # 13, Hotel Santo Domingo. Tosta de anchoas sobre pimiento asado (a toast topped with roasted red pepper and salt anchovies).

      1. In Lisbon try Solar dos Presuntos just north of Rossio square - buzzy atmosphere & top, very fresh seafood. It's an old favourite, very popular with well-heeled locals without being overly fancy.

        For really authentic paella you need to go to the source - Valencia and the Albufera where the rice is grown.

        In Cordoba you could try the new Mercado Victoria which is like a food hall with separate tapas bars and little stores - allows you to graze & taste local specialties. Or go total tapas! Bodegas Campos is a fabulous restaurant where you can eat very well in the tapas bar section.

        1 Reply
        1. re: peripat

          If you're operating under the assumption that paella is always paella valenciana, then Valencia would be the place to have an authentic paella. But, in this case "traditional" is probably a more apt choice of words than "authentic" and it's not too hard to find well done paellas made according to traditional techniques, certainly not in Madrid or Barcelona. There is lots of talk of paella on this board, a search should yield good results.

          Of course there are plenty of arroces (rice dishes) that aren't paella and lots of so-called paellas that many would say are just arroces - paella de mariscos is not the traditional, "authentic" paella but most Americans and Brits expect shrimp and mussels in anything called paella.