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Feb 21, 2014 11:32 PM

Barcelona Help- Not high end but the low end and good stuff in between

Will be doing 3 days and nights in September. Already have dinners planned in Madrid, Valencia, and Alicante.

Not really looking for the high end molecular stuff. We're more interested in something that expresses the local cuisine and culture. Willing to pay for high end ingredients like canned seafood, percebes, cigalas, gambas rojas, local crabs, and other various crustacean and seafood.

We will be doing Hisop as our modern/Michelin star place. I picked it because it looks like there are still some nods to tradtional catalan cuisine (pork belly).

The line up currently looks like:

Day 1:

Lunch- La Boqueria lunch, Paella stall. Anything else must have?

Dinner- Tickets (willing to switch this out for something local or something interesting like roast suckling pig/goat). Have been to Bazaar so many times in LA I can't have another spheroidized olive or liquid mozzarella ball yet almost feel obligated to go.

Day 2:

Lunch- Quimet y Quimet for canned seafood. Any better options?

Dinner- Cerveceria Catalana. Saw this in a 2008 thread but looking at Tripadvisor photos, it looks like it may have gone touristy? Is it still good?

Day 3:

Lunch- Open.

I heard of a place where we can grab whatever seafood looks good from La Boqueria and have it cooked? Maybe also in La Boqueria? Does such a place exist or is it only in my dreams? Any suggestions here appreciated

Dinner- Hisop

Thanks in Advance!

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  1. Day 1: Boqueria and what to order: since I generally had underwhelming experiences with Paella in Barcelona, I never order it. Since everything in the Boqueria kiosks are cooked in front of you, if it looks good, try it. Since you will be Valencia, eat it there. What else to eat? depends on what is fresh and in season; for me egg dishes, bean dishes, tomato bread, seafood such as clams, cockles, shrimp or sardines cooked a la plancha, wild mushrooms should be in season late september.
    Tickets: to go or not? that is a personal decision. You stated you are not into the molecular stuff and you've been to Bazaar many times, then why do you feel 'obligated'? is it because its publicity and the hottest thing on the planet and you got reservation. Give it away and go somewhere traditional.
    Day 2: Quimet y Quimet is very good for what it does. For me, I would never cross town for a tapas place. It cuts into sightseeing time and a big inconvience. If you are around Poblet Sec or Montjuic, fine. Almost all good tapas places will serve some seafood from cans, cured meat and cheeses. Pick a place near where you will be sightseeing.
    Cerveceria Catalana: it is touristy? yes but it get a lot of locals also for partying scene an people watching. It is convenient, lots of seating, open throughout the day, everyday of the year. Foodwise, I'll take a pass . Better and more fun tapas hopping down in El Born.
    Day 3: there is no place in the Boqueria where you choose seafood and they cook it for you. The restaurant you are referring might be La Paradeta. They have three locations and I believe the one near the Sagrada Familia is open for lunch.
    Hisop: it is very good for modern Catalan food. As for pork belly, one is more lightly to find it in modern Catalan places as it has become a cliche. Find it in traditional places more as a flavoring or part of a boiled meat platter.

    32 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      Awesome response. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

      Tickets: to go or not? that is a personal decision. You stated you are not into the molecular stuff and you've been to Bazaar many times, then why do you feel 'obligated'? is it because its publicity and the hottest thing on the planet and you got reservation. Give it away and go somewhere traditional.

      Where do you recommend for more traditional? I almost feel obligated because in a way it and the chef have come to define modern tapas and cuisine in Barcelona. I don't have reservations since the trip is in Sept and would gladly replace it for something local and traditional.

      Any particular spots in El Born that we should make it to? Places with razor clams would be a plus.

      Thanks again.

      1. re: Porthos

        I didn't mean to disaude you from going to Tickets. I have never eaten there. Albert Adria is a relatively newcomer to Barcelona dining scene though he and his more famous brother has had an enormous influence in Spanish cooking. He's beem much publized, mostly by the foreign press. I don't know any of my Barcelona friends have been to any of his places.
        Traditional Catalan: for moderate price, I like PLA and Vinya Roel (a wine shop in front and restaurant in back where one can buy a bottle at retail plus a small corkage to drink with dinner). More expensive is the excellent Roeg Robi. Two of my favorite places, El Veil Sarria and Canet are up in Sarria, a wonderful lively neighborhood. Very simple is La Cova Fumada and even the more down to earth, Can Mano.
        El Born: it is full of pintxos/ttapas places. Start at Carrer Argenteria, around Santa Maria del Mar, Placa Montcado, Carrer Montcado. To name a few: Sagrada (fun and lively on a tiny placa with a large selection of simple pintxos), La Vinya del Senyor (great selection of wines by the glass) that is great early evenings sitting outside on the Placa Santa Maria del Mar, around the corner Eskal Etxea, up to el Xampanyet, Tapeo and Bar del PLA. Not everything will be good but it is fun to eat a little at one. place then move to the next. Go later in the evening, at least pass 8pm, otherwise, one will be among only visitors. Razon clams: more likely in tapas places such as Tapeo and Bar del PLA then pintxos places. Good ones I've had were cooked a la Plancha at El Quim in the Boqueria and PacoMeralgo.

        1. re: PBSF

          This is awesome. I can't thank you enough! Will report back with pictures.

          1. re: PBSF

            Just so the OP doesn't get lost, it's:

            Roig Robí

            El Vell Sarrià

            Can Maño

            Plaça de Montcada - Carrer Montcada


            Euskal Etxea

            BTW, Euskal Etxea is basically just another branch of Sagardi so perhaps you might want to pick one or the other. Most of the basque places in the Ciutat Vella are owned by Grupo Sagardi, and the ones that aren't seem to follow the same pattern. There's nothing too original about any of them, but that doesn't mean they're not fun.

            I would tend to favour more Catalan places like El Xampanyet, Bar la Plata, Bar del Pla, La Cova Fumada or maybe Albert Adrià's new Bodega 1900 if you want something fancier.


            1. re: SnackHappy

              Thank you for correcting the spellings and providing the links to the various places. It is very helpful. Another reason to ditch the tablet and go back to the big clunky desktop for typing.

              1. re: PBSF

                Thank you for the recs. This is exactly what I'm looking for.

                I really like the way PLA, Vinya Roel, and Roig Robí look. The wine option at Vinya Roel is perfect.

                Now my question are:

                1. Should I switch out Hisop so I can squeeze all 3 of these in? More specifically, between Roig Robí and Hisop which is better?

                2. Are any of them open for lunch? Will probably switch out Quimet y Quimet for one of these if they are.

                Looks like we're tapas hopping in El Born:

                La Vinya del Senyor
                el Xampanyet
                Bar del PLA
                La Cova Fumada- love the way the fish dishes look
                Bodega 1900

                I'm guessing reservations are required for Bodega 1900?

                Thanks again you two!

                1. re: Porthos

                  La Cova Fumada is in Barceloneta, not el Born. It 's about a 10-15 minute walk from the area you're focusing on, but it's not exactly a "tapas bar" and you'll probably have to wait for a table.It doesn't stay open especially late, either. I love La Cova Fumada but if you're heading down to Barceloneta for tapas hopping I'd suggest going elsewhere - to El Vaso de Oro probably.
                  La Cova Fumada is a nice place for lunch and the beach is right there for a walk afterwards.

                  1. re: caganer

                    Good to know! It's between our hotel and El Born so we could start there. Thanks for that detail!

                  2. re: Porthos

                    Bodega 1900 is not in the Born either. It's on Paral-lel at the edge of Sant-Antoni and Poble Sec. I only mentioned it because it is going for something very Catalan and very Barcelona - "Fer el vermut" which is the local version of an aperitivo, and because you seemed interested in Albert Adrià's restaurants. Vermut has become quite trendy in Barcelona and a number of bars are reviving and/or maintaining this tradition.


                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      Just finished google maping them out so I saw that. Will probably try to make a reservation around 10-11pm and head over there to finish the night after El Born.

                      There is no reservation option on their website but tripadvisor (and common sense) suggest that reservations are needed for Bodega 1900. Can you please clarify?

                      1. re: Porthos

                        Here's their contact info:

                        933 252 659 - Calling hours from 10:30h until 20h

                        It's on their website. I just noticed that the link I put up before forces you back to the Bcn 5.0 site. You have to choose Bodega 1900 and click "Entre the site" on the left in the window above. I must admit, this is not a very well designed site.

                    2. re: Porthos

                      Couple of general comments: unless your trip is purley for culinary research and not enjoyment, try not to do too much so that you can enjoy your experience.As the above post pointed out, La Cova Fumada is Barceloneta and not clustered around El Born. It is walkable to Born but you will have to start there when hardly anyone else there. And going to Bodega 1900 around hitting 5 to 6 bars in Born requires a lot of stamina and you will be too much of a rush to enjoy your experience. The point of tapas is relax with friends and have a glass of wine/cava/vermouth. IT is not a track meet. You have three days in Barcelona to sightseeing and eating, therefore, you can't do a whole bucket list.
                      Your trip is not until September, therefore, you will have plenty of time to plan, choose, change your mind many time. It is too early to firm up your eating plans. Who knows, Albert Adria may change his concept three or four times by then.
                      Which is better, Hisop or Roig Robi? that is like comparing apple and oranges. Should you switch Hisop and do all three: PLA, Roig Robi and La Vinya Roel? Only if you absolutely hate modern Catalan cooking. For a first visit, I wouldn't. Many posters on this site use the cliche that a particular restaurant can be in any big city in the world, therefore, iti s not worth going to. Hisop is a Catalan restaurant in Barcelona that uses ingredients raised/grown in Spain. The staff speaks Catalan/Spanish and not New Yorker/San Francisco English. Even though the decor is somewhat sparse modern, it is unmistakenly Barcelona.
                      Lunch, most if not all serve lunch and usually have the same menu. Unless sightseeing is not important, my advice is pick places near where one is sightseeing. Barcelona's public transport is good and taxi are plentiful; it is still a waste of time and effort to make trip cross town. I would not plan lunch at La Cova in Barceloneta if I am up in Parc Guell.

                      1. re: PBSF

                        And going to Bodega 1900 around hitting 5 to 6 bars in Born requires a lot of stamina and you will be too much of a rush to enjoy your experience. The point of tapas is relax with friends and have a glass of wine/cava/vermouth
                        I realized this as I was doing my planning which like you said, kind of goes against the spirit of tapas hopping. Which is why Bodega 1900 is at the end and late.

                        Turns out La Cova is open early 9-3pm so we'll be able to do that for lunch one day and depending on how we feel +/- on Quimet y Quimet.

                        I'll be keeping Hisop and adding Vinya Roel (in place of Tickets).


                        Lunch: Boqueria- El Quim/Bar Pinotxo
                        Dinner: Vinya Roel


                        Lunch: La Paradeta
                        Dinner: Tapas Hop: el Xampanyet. Sagardi, Bar del PLA, Bodega 1900


                        Lunch: La Cova Fumada +/- Quimet y Quimet
                        Dinner: Hisop

                        The only question I have left is which of the tapas places require reservations. We will be a party of 5 and tripadvisor reports mentioned reservations for Bar del PLA. Makes it a bit tough to spontaneously tapas hop if reservations are going be necessary. In which case we would just do el Xampanyet, Bar del PLA, and Bodega 1900 spaced by 2 hour intervals.

                        Thanks all for your help!

                        1. re: Porthos

                          Very few tapas/pintxos places require reservations and many do not take them..Tickets is the exception if one consider it a tapas bar. Keerp in mind many have no table seating, some standup only, other bar stools. I have never made reservation for any of those discussed so far on this thread. If the place is too crowded, I just walk to the next one. For me, no one tapas/pintxos bar is an destination. That is the spirit of a tapas bar, the informality of dropping in. An example one hat takes reservation is PacoMeralgo which have only table/counter seating (no standup allow). Those who show up without a reservation will have to wait if there is no free table. This is more like a restaurant that serves what we Americans call 'small plates'.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            Just to add that Quimet y Quimet is miniscule standup only, no stools, no seats. I have not been there in couple of years but before then, it was always packed out during prime lunch time. Only times where there was room to breath was around 3pm.

                    3. re: SnackHappy

                      In my experience, Sagardi sucks, while Euskal Etxea remains good but less good than before.
                      La Paradeta is standard kind of good, not destination-good. To compare with another place mentioned here, I have had much fresher and better executed seafood tapas at Cerveceria Catalana than at the Paradeta. For Paradeta kind of standard, I much prefer the Mercat Princesa food court.
                      An evening tapas spot at El Borne ? Downstairs from my regular rental, Bilbao Berria on Argenteria.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        Thanks for the feedback. Sagardi has since been removed from the tapas hop since it had that corporate feel. Plus, everything at Sagardi seems to be just pretty and colorful topping on bread. Tapas hop is now just el Xampanyet, Bar del PLA, and Bodega 1900. Trying to avoid that classic tourist mistake of trying to do too much.

                        For La Paradeta it's more the choosing of the seafood and having it simply prepared that's the big draw. Looked at Mercat Princessa and it's not really an equivalent substitute. Any other great but local and down to earth seafood spot would replace it though. Want as many galeras, cigalas, gambas rojas, and razor clams as we can get our hands on.

                        1. re: Porthos

                          "just pretty and colorful topping on bread" is what you'll find in all the pintxos places in Barcelona. To me Bilbao Berria is the same as the Grupo Sagardi places, but with better ambiance. It's a nice place to stop in for a glass of wine and a couple of pintxos, but I wouldn't linger.

                          I've had three meals at La Paradeta. Two were good and one was outstanding. The difference was mainly in the quality of the cooking. Galeras are going to be hard to come by I don't really remember seeing any in Barcelona. Gambas rojas will be at high-end seafood places or at the bars in La Boqueria. Expect to pay a pretty penny.

                          1. re: SnackHappy

                            It looks like galeras from Catalunya are only available in winter and spring.


                            1. re: SnackHappy

                              >>I've had three meals at La Paradeta. Two were good and one was outstanding. The difference was mainly in the quality of the cooking<<

                              Is there a difference in cooking between locations? Or was it just chance that one day was better than another? Or was it the the way you asked for certain items to be cooked?

                              >>"just pretty and colorful topping on bread" is what you'll find in all the pintxos places in Barcelona.<<

                              Which is why el Xampanyet, Bar del PLA look so good! Tripe, fried artichokes, etc.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                Xampanyet has a nice atmosphere, but the tapas are so-so.

                                1. re: Parigi

                                  It think it depends what you're into. They do canned fish and seafood really well. And the boquerones never disappoint.

                                  1. re: SnackHappy

                                    The cocas and potatoes with allioli are pretty good as well!

                                    1. re: caga tio

                                      I guess i'll have to put this on my list for next time. ;)

                                    2. re: SnackHappy

                                      Saw the conservas and boquerones. Looked good. A mushroom and sausage dish, marinated bacala, some chorizo with egg dish, jamon looks oily and fine...all worth a taste. Trying to stay away from bread as filler so we have more room for dinner later.

                                  2. re: Porthos

                                    I've only ever eaten at the Born location so I couldn't say which is best.

                              2. re: Parigi

                                Bilbao Berria is not quite downstair from your regular rental on c/Argenteria. You'll have to stroll across via Laietana to Placa Nova. Nice tapas spot around La Seu

                                1. re: PBSF

                                  "Bilbao Berria is not quite downstair from your regular rental on c/Argenteria."
                                  Pero Si. It opened a branch there a couple of years ago, right across the narrow street from Senyor Parellada.

                                  1. re: Parigi

                                    Thanks; I should never question a semi-local. I'll have to pay attention the next time I am down in that neighborhood.

                                    1. re: PBSF

                                      Je t'en prie ! lol.
                                      When you are in "my 'hood", try to get an horchata from the enchanting Casa Gisbert spice store (Sombrerers, 23).

                                      For the OP:

                                      La Paredata in the Borne also serves lunch. As for Cal Pep, if you go 15 minutes before opening, you will get a table when it opens, and don't have to wait forEVER.

                                      I like the food and the buzz at Cerveceria Catalana very much, but it is more of a lunch place. It is sort of sad at night. Not its fault. It 's the 'hood that is sad at night.
                                      In fact through the years, in terms of food quality, Cerveceria Catalana has been getting steadily better, while Euskal Etxea, which used to be one of my fave spots, has gone downhill slightly, but still much better than its neighbors like El Xampagnet, etc.

                                      There is no paella stall at the Boqueria. And I agree, paella is not a Barcelona specailty. Set Portes does make a decent riff. Must reserve.

                                      I agree with the pick of El Quim in the Boqueria.

                      2. Just a couple of notes to add to PBSF's excellent post.

                        If you're already going to Valencia and Alicante, you'd better skip the paella in Barcelona and maybe focus more on dishes like suquet de peix (fish stew) or any other of a number of Catalan specialties.

                        In the same vein, roast kid or suckling pig are Castilian dishes, so not very Catalan and definitely not local.

                        I'm also pretty certain that the seafood place you're thinking of is La Paradeta. Better check schedules to see if it's open for lunch on the day you want to go. Same goes for Quimet i Quimet.

                        At the Boqueria I would go to El Quim or Bar Pinotxo. Both are very busy and touristy, but they put out some excellent food.

                        Cerveceria Catalana is not worth it IMHO, but many people love the place.

                        If going in late septembre, keep in mind that, during La Mercè, schedules change because of the holiday.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: SnackHappy

                          La Paradeta looks like the one! Thanks to you both! It's on the schedule for sure. We're going in early September so we should be okay.

                          Thanks for the heads up on the suquet de peix. Can I just get this at La Boqueria or is there somewhere else in town making a "can't miss" version?

                          Looking to switch out Cerveceria Catalana if you guys have a list of places we can tapas hop in El Born.

                          Updated Itinerary looks like:

                          Day 1 (Tuesday):

                          Lunch: La Boqueria. El Quim or Bar Pinotxo and/or some place serving suquet de peix
                          Dinner: Ticket **open to alternative**

                          Day 2 (Wednesday)

                          Lunch: La Paradeta
                          Dinner: Tapas hop El Born **suggestions please**

                          Day 3 (Thursday)

                          Lunch: Quimet y Quimet
                          Dinner: Hisop

                          1. re: Porthos

                            I don't know if you can find suquet in the Boqueria. It's more of sunday lunch type of dish that you would find at restaurants in Barceloneta along with the usual rice dishes. I don't have specific recommendation for those.

                            1. re: Porthos

                              Just have to say, don't miss Tickets- one of the best meals we had in 2013. We let them make us dinner with their "greatest hits" and it was just phenomenal! If you have a reservation, KEEP IT!!

                          2. hello, you probably have made up your mind but I thought Can Ravell was very good, although could add up depending on what you order. The rice dish of the day in particular was very good. It also has a great shop at the front, and is unique in its look and atmosphere. The other place is Embat which I think is great value for some good cooking which tasty.

                            1. I'll be staying on La Rambla just south of Plaça de Catalunya and I know better than to eat anything actually on La Rambla, so can anyone recommend some tasty places nearby?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Negaduck

                                Where you are staying at is el centro, therefore, just about any previous recommendations on this board is not far; scroll earlier posts and you'll have tons of good information.
                                Except the kiosks inside the Boqueria (closed Sundays and breakfast to late lunch, no dinners), you are right that nothing right on La Ramblas. As for very nearby the upper Ramblas, there are some good atmospheric tapas places around Placa di Pi/St. Josep: El Pintor, Bar del Pi, La Plata, El Portalon, Onofre, Convent del Angels. Cafe de L'Academia and PLA are good for more formal sit down. Agut may still have a 11euro menu del dia, food so so but terrific atmosphere.
                                El Ravel is forever changing but still does not have much to offer other then bars, cafes and salad/sandwich/snack eateries. Can Luis serves a menu del dia of honest simple Catalan food. The food at Anima is better, a bit more eclectic and inexpensive. Man I Teca is good tiny tapas bar.

                                1. re: PBSF

                                  Just FYI, Anima closed a couple of years ago.

                                  1. re: SnackHappy

                                    Too bad about Anima closing. Thanks for the info.