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Jan 27, 2014 09:47 AM

Looking for suggestions other than Ultra High End

I'll be in Barcelona for a few days on business, so my wife is joining. I've got reservations at 41 Degrees. Can't wait! I'm also holding a res at Hisop. Please let me know if you think this will be great.
Considering either the morning market tour with Aborigens Barcelona or the evening tour with Spanish Trails. Not sure which way to go.
I'd love some suggestions for bars and restaurants that are local favourites. Don't necessarily need another super high end meal.
Here are some that caught my eye on other posts. Based on their websites, I can see that some are higher end than others.
Would appreciate any comments/thoughts:
Tapas 24 (should I do breakfast here or another meal?)
Casa Leopold
El Vass de Oro
El Quim
Can Culleretes
Cafe de L'Academia

Open to all suggestions.

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  1. Lasarte is about as high end as it gets in BCN so you should probably drop it from your list. We ate there in Oct and enjoyed it but for what you are after it's a poor fit.

    2 Replies
    1. re: willyum

      Willyum, thanks for the info. I was considering Lasarte either for lunch one day or might swap it out for the Hisop reservation. Was your meal amazing? Food looks pretty great from the pics on line.

      1. re: whineanddine

        >> Was your meal amazing? Food looks pretty great from the pics on line

        LOL ... yes, the photos look great. We had almost the same dishes as this chap ... ... except the red prawns were not available that day so we had a squid dish.

        Was it amazing? No, not even close. One dish, the chocolate souffle, made my wife's "Top ten dishes of the trip" list (for the five Michelin starred restaurants we dined at) and it was exceptional. Three dishes here were excellent (squab, smoked oyster and home yolk). The rest were solid but for a Michelin 2* we were expecting more excellent dishes.

        We're going back to BCN in May, stopping over briefly on the way to Bilbao and San Sebastian, and if we have time for a high end place it will be Abac.

    2. Your list is a hodgepodge of eating places, all located in the center of Barcelona. "Looking for suggestions other than Ultra High End': then need not consider Lasarte, Arola and to a lesser extend, Casa Leopold.
      The rest:
      Tapas24: good for breakfast if you want something more substantial; better at one of the kiosk in the Boqueria.
      Colibri: if it is the restaurant in the Eixample, it is no more. A tapas bar in El Ravel has taken over the name.
      El Vaso d'Oro, very good tapas bar, always packed.
      Gresca: good but similar to Hisop which I like better; keep the reservation.
      El Quim: a good kiosks in the Boqueria; not open evenings.
      Agut: a tire dinosaur, atmospheric.
      Can Culleretes: a tour bus favorite, avoid
      Cafe de L'Academia: good and comfortable; lunch gets locals from the nearby governmental offices.
      If you are looking for everyday local places, have to get out of central Barcelona. Go to Barceloneta or up to Gracia and Sarria
      Barceloneta: Can Mano and La Cova de Fumada
      Sarria: El Vell Sarria, Canet, El Coc. Bar Tomas
      Gracia: Goliard, La Colmena Ubeda, Cal Boter. El Glop
      All are inexpensive, less than 20 euro.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        PBSF, Thank's for the local info. We plan on doing a lot of exploring and will check out the places you've mentioned.
        To be honest, our desire to do more than ultra high end is less of a money issue (as we do have reservations at 41 Degrees) than it is a desire to have a variety of local experiences.
        Of the places you mentioned, does one or two stand out?
        Also, what do you think of Espai Sucre. Seems like an interesting concept. Not sure if its something one does after a meal somewhere else or if it's a meal unto itself.
        Really appreciate the guidance.

        1. re: whineanddine

          From my experiences in Barcelona, the difference between 'ultra high-end' such Lassarte, Moo, Moments. Abac, Gaig and less expensive places such as Hisop, Gresca, Alkimia is not so much the quality of the food but the length of the tasting menu, the complexity of the preparations, the extra dining staff, decor and table settings. A tasting menu plus wine at the latter is probably a little more than half of the cost. If the extras are important and budget is not an issue, then you have all of Barcelona to choose from.
          Out of curiosity, I went to Espai Sucre years ago when it first opened. Then, it was only tasting menus consisting of three savory courses with sweet elements followed by three dessert courses. The individual courses were very good but by the end of the meal, the sweet was too much for me. Currently, I believe they have more varied menus, so might be worth a try just for the postres after an evening of tapas/pinxtos in El Born.
          None of the local everyday places are worth a long trek. Your idea of to eat near where you are sightseeing is sound. Exception is Parc Guell where there is not much nearby. There is so much to Barcelona that for a few day visit, one has to pick and choose. I would definitely spend an evening at El Born eating tapas/pinxtos at the area around Santa Maria del Mar. Except for Sunday midday (lesser on midday Saturday) which everyone seems to descend on Barceloneta. Other times, it is a quiet neighborhood to stroll away and get from the tourist. We have friends that we stay with in Sarria and it is a wonderful and lively neighborhood at night. The main street, c/Major de Sarria is lined with informal eating places, much like a local El Born.

      2. Tapas 24: I enjoyed their specials more than their regular menu items. Still a good bet to eat though.
        Gresca: good deal for lunch, I wouldn't go for dinner.
        El Quim was good but always packed. Arrive early if ever you want to eat lunch there. The other popular kiosk in La Bouqueria is Pinotxo. I preferred El Quim to Pinotxo though.
        Hisop: I went there late Oct. Along with Tickets, it would be the only other restaurant I would return to if ever I go back to BCN. I also thought that it was a very good value for the price I paid.
        If you are into coffee, there's an awesome coffee shop in El Born called Cafes El Magnifico if I'm not mistaken. My Spanish is rusty but I think the owner won some barista award for coffee. I had an Aeropress coffee there that was amazingly clean with fruity tones that I can actually decipher. The coffee was neither bitter nor acidic.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sunbrace

          Sunbrace - Great info. Thanks. Funny you should mention coffee as I'm in the process of researching a new machine for my home. Of course, what I really want is ridiculously expensive.
          I've been doing a lot of reading and my list is growing. Any other places you loved that are not mentioned here?
          Appreciate the help.

          1. re: whineanddine

            I liked Cal Pep. I know it's a bit touristy but I enjoyed the dishes there. My only suggestion for this place is that you read the menu beside the front door before waiting in line. Don't ask for their recommendations as I found the ones I ordered to be tastier than the ones they recommended to me. Also, their seafood dishes were better than their veggies.

            For torrones, you can try Vicens. They sometimes give out samples that you can try first before buying.

            For pastries, I liked Bubo. I think this is BCN's version of Pierre Herme. Their pastries were definitely beautiful to look at. I can't remember what the name of the little ball of pastry covered in almonds that they only make during halloween, but that was awesome. I also had a chocolate raspberry cake from there which was ok, but not as good as the other one. I also had a crema catalana in Escriba(La Rambla branch) and visited their main one in Gran Via as well. it was good but nothing that really wowed me.

            Don't forget to order a cortado. Most bars will serve it. I haven't had a bad one in Spain, whether it was a hole in a wall bar or a nicer/touristy looking one.