A city of arches and gothic structures, of Gaudi´s musings, Dali´s enigma and Picasso´s passion – A city which stops when Messi scores a goal and celebrates when the Roca brothers win the title for the best restaurateurs in the world. A city which treats Ferran Adria as god and whose legacy can be seen in every hole in the wall restaurant in town. It’s the city of food, of art, of music and of all three rolled into one. It’s the city of Barcelona, a city whose food landscape is so diverse and unique that it is a tough task to compile the Best places to visit within a single article.
Having deliberated over 2 weeks on the best way to present this article, I have finally decided not to go about describing each place, nor point out the best in the city (which I am sure will differ from person to person), but rather focus on the places I have enjoyed visiting and revisiting in each of my previous travels to this city and what made these places so special.
Eating around Barcelona could be easily planned according to your budget and depends highly on which kind of place to go, according to me the best time to go to good restaurants is during their lunch hours as each of them carry a 3-4 course set menu at reasonable prices. For dinner, I usually hang out at Tapas joints.
If you are on a touristic tour around Barcelona, time yourself to stop near Casa Batillo or La Pedrera (The famous Gaudi houses) around lunch time. The area around Passeig de Gracia are full of small restaurants which only specialize in Lunch packages, my suggestion is to walk a couple of hundred metres and look for the street called Gracia and look into the several hole in the wall restaurants in its arterial streets, the place is full of options where one can easily get good quality 3 course menus starting from 10€ till 40€.
Some of my favourite places to visit here are:-
Can Xurrades (Lunch Menu 14€-17€) – One of the few places in Barcelona certified to serve Taurus Ibericus – an exclusive beef which is compared to Wagyu from Japan. They even have an amazing dinner line up which includes a meat tasting platter. Open fire grills nothing fancy, straight off the fire and served with sides to your order. Must Try : Steak Taurus Ibericus, Slivers of Jamon Bellota and a spectacular Crème Catalan
La Taberna Del Cura –a bit higher in Price – belonging to the chain Monchos, serves authentic dishes from the Catalan kitchen and boasts of a good wine list. Must Try: Grilled Calçots (From the leek family, served with romesco sauce) and artichokes when in season
Roig Robi – Went here for the first time with the head of Barcelona Tourism and was completely floored by their quality. Fixed tasting menu, good execution, elegant dishes, fresh ingredients and personal attention; though slightly on the higher side (39€ tasting menu), but worth every penny. Must try: Braised Cuttlefish and the Hazelnut Ice cream.
Buenas Migas – a great place to grab a quick coffee and a sandwich or a focaccia on the go. It has been my savior many a times when I am pressed with time, budget or both. Great veg options too! Must try: Range of focaccias.
Bar Mut – Right on Av. Diagonal stands a simple bar called MUT, no lunch specials but a great place to hang out if you want to enjoy a good glass of wine and pair it with the freshest and the best seafood in the city. Must try: Mussels in white wine sauce and Squids a la gallega
Speakeasy Dry Martini – Recommended highly by mixologists from around the world, a speakeasy establishment, the bar treats its drink like a scientist treats its research. One has to witness the art in person to know the science behind each drink. A bit on the higher side where the drinks start from 8€ onwards, but certainly a one-time quality experience. Must try: any of their Gin and tonic varieties
La Flauta – one of my favourite tapas places, I prefer to sit at the bar and look at the fresh products on display and order tapas portions of the products that catch my fancy. The tapas menu changes frequently, but always look for the product of the day. Must try: Sliders and their Sautéed mixed mushrooms when in season
Vinya Roel – A person MUST pamper himself once in a while. That’s precisely what I do when I go to Vinya Roel. I usually ask the maitre´d to suggest a good cava or a nice red and order a good steak to go along with it. Another favourite from this place is its Pimento padron – Green chillies fried in extra virgin olive oils sprinkled with sea salt and served. A must have for the Indian palate. Must Try: Steak tartar, grilled sirloin and Pimento Padrón
Apart from visiting sit down restaurants, one must keep a visit to La Boqueria on their agenda. Right off the touristy Las Ramblas, La boqueria is a fresh fruit, meat and confectionary market selling an amazing array for fresh products. Head for a small kiosk-restaurant called El Quim, there is always a long line of people waiting to be seated, though the food is nothing spectacular, sitting at the bar, enjoying the sights and sounds of the daily hustle and bustle of the market is an experience in itself.
If you fancy Peruvian food, I recommend you to head towards an area called El Clot where a number of Peruvians live and head to one of their local joints to enjoy a Preuvian Ceviche, a Papa a la Huancaina and a Mazamorra. If you are feeling homesick, you will find many Indian restaurants around the city though most of them are owned and operated by Pakistanis , you may want to head to El Raval to enjoy some desi chai over some Bollywood music.
Apart from Peruvian and India, you will easily find Mexican, Moroccan, Lebanese, Japanese, Chinese, Argentinian, Chilean, Brazilian, Italian and other Pan European cuisines in this melting pot. Summarizing the best is an almost impossible task. After two weeks of heavy eating, these are all the recommendations I could give, next time will bring you back some more, till then take a deep breath and say Barcelon-Ahhhh!