Back from Barcelona
We just got back last night and had a wonderful time. First of myths to be dispelled is that there is a lot of petty crime. Now that may be true, but I never felt the need to worry once while there. However, reading about it did make me overly hypervigilent about my bag or husbands wallet. All the written about stories unnecessarily caused me concern. We took the trains, walked the Rambla and felt totally safe. Secondly, the people of Barcelona are extremely friendly and helpful. Thirdly, everyone wears shorts so my husband was glad that he didn't listen to several posts and brought his shorts. Now onto the food. I got a lot of good information from this board along with other posts. The Rambla was enjoyable to walk along and we stopped at the Mercado Boqueria. It was a feast for the eyes. I felt like a kid in a candy store with all the fresh fruit, fruit juices, fish, meats, etc. So very enjoyable. I would advise against going on a Monday because we first went on Thursday and it was full of vendors. On Monday most of the fish stalls were closed. A definite must do. Food tended to be more pricey if having a meal. But fruit and juices were reasonable. Our hotel was in the EIXAMPLE area and we ate at Flauta, Ciutat Condal., Taller de Tapas, had breakfast at Cerveseria Catalana and Baluard Bakery. Ciutat Condal and Cerveseria Catalana are always very crowded. My high school Spanish did not serve me that well since the Catalan dialect is different but luckily most of the servers were very helpful. All the above tapas restaurants were very good and priced about the same. Our meals usually came to around 50Euro with wine/drinks. I loved the fresh orange juice for breakfasts at Cerveseria Catalana along with the sandwiches of ham, tomato and lettuce. My husband enjoyed Taller de Tapas which was not planned but not knowing where to go, we were pleased with both the food and service (the one on Rambla de Catalanya.) Excellent gin and tonic with cucumber and the strawberry mojitios were delicious. My favorite place was Paco Meralgo. The smoke salmon on toast, the Bomba, the zucchini flowers stuffed, the croquettes Obama (cuttlefish ) , potatoes bravas (more spicy here) were delicious. I also enjoyed their bread toasted with olive oil and tomato better than other places. We ate here twice. I have to say that after a few days of tapas you need a more typical meal so we ate at a local place Pulpa, which was very pretty and again great service. Very reasonable. I had the pumpkin soup which was delicious and my husband enjoyed his risotto. Their spinach cannelloni was just ok. Their chicken curry dish was good but could have used more sauce. Overall a nice change from days of tapas. We also had a small bite at Vaso de Oro in Barceloneta, which was a lot of fun. Another standout was La Cova de Fumada. We had a hard time finding it at first, but the line out the door for lunch was a good clue. Be sure to put your name on the list, which we didn't know to do at first. It's a small family owned place where you will sit next to strangers (and make friends at the same time) to taste their food. STandouts were the grilled octopus, sardines and bacala. I hate bacala but they made it so different here and it was recommended by our table companions. They are known for their bombas but I felt the ones at Paco Meralgo were better. Cash only here. I gave up my reservations at Gresca and Alkimia for lunch because I didn't want our vacation to be dictated by food. If we were in the Born district, it was senseless to run back for lunch. BTW, Gresca was not crowded and there were plenty of open tables. We had gelato, but the name escapes me. It was in the Born district and I enjoyed the pear gelato with ginger. But overall, it doesn't compare to Italy's gelato IMO. The table companions we met at Cove de Fumada recommended a restaurant that is not tapas called Somotosto that is right around the corner from Cove de Fumada. It gets great reviews but unfortunately we ran out of days. Hopefully there will be a next time.
We just returned from a trip to BCN as well. I have been to Spain before, so I was not suprised about the shorts. However, I was suprised at the attire of other diners when we ate at ABAC. ABAC is a michelin 2 star, and they specifically stated no flip flops or shorts, so I wore a sport coat.
I was surprised to see the gentleman at the next table wearing a T shirt.
Just back from Barcelona as well and can happily second your recommendations for both Paco Meralgo and La Cova Fumado; while we didn't expect to spend many euros in the latter, we were surprised how reasonable our bill at Paco Meralgo was - nine small plates, a bottle of Albarino all for €75.
For anybody in the Barcoleneta area, just up the street from La Cova Fumada and with even more modest décor, try Can Mano.