Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Spain/Portugal >
Aug 27, 2014 11:01 AM

Best place for suckling lamb & pig and paella in Barcelona/Madrid/Sevilla/Granada?

Will be travelling to Barcelona (3 nights), Madrid (2 nights), Sevilla (1 night), Granada (1 night)and Cordoba (half day) in Nov. In addition to tapas we'd like to try some paella and sucking lamb and pigs but we're not sure which city and restaurants to eat them at. We prefer local hole-in-the-wall places over high end restos. Any recommendations?

For tapas we have Bodega La Palma and Quimet on the list for Barcelona so far, and for Granada we have Bodega Castañeda and Bar los diamantes. We've got nothing yet for Madrid, Sevilla and Cordoba. Any tapas recommendations are appreciated too!

Two additional questions - 1) how can I tell when I'm at a tapas bar whether the food are free? 2)Do I order the tapas and drinks at the table or do I go up to the bar to point at items that I want?

First time in Spain and I'm open to any suggestions!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I will answer the additional questions. First, free tapas a quite rare these days especially in the tourist cities you will visit. If they are free you will be offered one with your drink. Do not assume the one piled high at the bar are free - you can usually help yourself but show the plate to the bar staff and they will add them to your tab.

    How do you order tapas. It depends a lot on the place. A good casual bar will have fresh tapas on the bar (you often ask for a plate) and you help yourself, they ten have a menu for you to order hot dishes that are made to order. As you often stand at the bar there is no table service. Good bars turn over the food quickly, poorer bars gave food that goes stale - use your eyes.

    In some they do table service - more often seen in Barcelona (which wasn't traditionally a Tapas city) and/or more upmarket places ....which stretch the concept of a tapas bar a bit. In some of the traditional ones the table service sells "raciones" which are larger portions designed for a sit down meal. These tables are often by reservation. That said you many order a racione of ham, other cut meats, or some fish which is the traditional way of ordering these and they will still be served at he bar.

    So the secret of tapas is that there is no single model, and the model varies from city to city and bar to bar. Always sensible to use your eyes sand copy the locals.

    1. Did some more research and Xiringuito Escribá and Kaiku seem to come up often as good paella places in Barcelona. Which one is better? Kaiku seems to be rated as more salty overall, is it true?

      1. None of the places you are visiting are natural homes of the meals you have chosen to eat. Maybe that is why you cannot find much information?
        Free tapas can be found in some parts of Spain, thankfully.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Lugosur

          Isn't Andalusia the spiritual home of the Tapa? So Granada and Seville are pretty good for tapas with lots of choice and lots of bars. Not certain how accurate the guides you linked to are (especially the first one) you do get free tapas, one per drink, in some places, but if you want more you often pay. And if making Tapas a meal you need to expect to pay or get very drunk alone per drink means you drink a lot to get fed!

          Agree that suckling pig and lamb is most famed around Segovia, but I thought Madrid (which is close) was also famed for its great as adores? And certainly Paella whilst not a traditional Catalan dish (it's from Valencia - and arguably has no seafood in it) but Barcelona have their own tradition and there is a Catalan paella.

          1. re: PhilD

            Yes Andalusia is the home of tapas, but the person asked about other dishes and was not finding much hence my suggestion that they are really looking at the wrong areas.
            Getting a drink with a Tapa is the traditional way of having a tapa. Traditionally tapa is served as fill-in not a meal. It is never good value to make a meal of them.
            Barcelona is not Valencia. They are situated in different Comunidad autónoma (autonomous community). And as you see in the link below the dish is traditionally from Valencia
            Yes things do move on and I have even seen Paella offered in Burgos. But that is not for me and should not be for someone trying to find the authentic thing.

            1. re: Lugosur

              Agree Tapas are an expensive dinner - but that is what tourists like to do, a Tapas tour around the city centre on a balmy summer night is great fun.

            2. re: PhilD

              Hi, you say, almost correctly, that "… there is a Catalan paella". Yep. It's called arròs al forn. In fact, when soccer players transfer to FC Barcelona and present themselves to the press local reporters invariably ask them, "Paella? Or, arròs al forn?" Their responses are weighed to measure the sincerity of their loyalty to their new club and city.

              In Catalunya the pan in which you prepare a rice dish is called a paella — in Spain the exact same pan is called a paellera —an important linguistic difference, i.e. in Spain you make a paella in a paellera, in Catalunya you use a paella to make an arròs.

              Arròssos al forn are rice dishes finished off in the oven. And are very popular, and celebrated, in Alacant (Valencia region). Traditionally (i.e. before the 1970s) when most homes did not have an oven — cooks would take their rice dishes to the local bakery to put in the oven. This led to certain dishes being called arròs passegat ('walked rice') as cooks would be seen parading their rice dishes through the streets to and from the bakery.

              As for an 'authentic' paella … well you'll never get one in a restaurant. An authentic paella is essentially, and fundamentally, an outdoor dish, prepared (always in the afternoon, NEVER in the evening) on an open fire fuelled with vines (in the interior) and timber from orange trees (on the coast) and which ever wood fuel is available in the hills. The smoke from the fuel scents the dish — lending historic credence to Ferran Ádria's experiments with smokes and scents.

              As for the protein content of an 'authentic' paella, (chicken and seafood being relatively recent innovations, and reflective of Spanish people's increased prosperity) well, in and around Valencia — water rat, in the mountain regions — squirrel, rabbit and snails; and, on the plains, hare; and in the towns and cities, especially during los años del hambre (the years of hunger: 1940—late 1950s) cat, rat and pigeon.

              There are still a few places where you can try a genuine arròs al forn in Barcelona, El Vell Sarrià being the best bet for visitors. See my writeup here:

              All the best.

              1. re: BCNLocal

                As for an 'authentic' paella … well you'll never get one in a restaurant. An authentic paella is essentially, and fundamentally, an outdoor dish, prepared (always in the afternoon, NEVER in the evening) on an open fire fuelled with vines (in the interior) and timber from orange trees (on the coast)

                Mi Casa in Alicante cooks theirs over vines. Best arroces of the trip. Went with locals from the area who cook this at home in Chinorlet. They feel this version is the closest you can get to the stuff they cook at home.

          2. Suckling lamb in Madrid: El Senador

            3 Replies
            1. re: Simon

              "El Senador"
              Agreed; Simon - it was, as you know, hot and moist on the inside and crisp and crunchy on the outside. Outstanding and great service for someone who speaks all languages badly.
              Thanks for the rec.

              1. re: John Talbott

                so happy that you enjoyed it...hope the rest of your Madrid dining was yummy as well...we especially loved Casa Rafa (seafood specialist) when we were there, so that's one to consider for future trips...cheers...