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Barcelona Restaurant Recommendations


Wilfrid
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Since I have been to BCN last week, I visited several restaurants. Can Fabes is not Adrià'n cooking at all. It is more classical inspired and reminded me much more of Alain Dutournier in Paris. But it was great and it has an excellent wine list. I had the tasting menu which I liked very much. [by the way, I went there by train (30 minutes on the express train from centre of BCN) which went very well; I am not sure it runs late in the evenings, but there is a website of regional trains.]

Of all the others I visited (Commerç 24, Alkimia, Àbac, Espaisucre, Gaig, Hisop and Cat 1.81), I liked the young chefs of Alkimia and Hisop the most, although not very Adrià either but certainly very modern and personal.

PS: I posted a brief description of my meal in the Can Fabes thread.

Edited by paulbrussel (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

I visited this forum for the first time, and, since I know all of these Catalan Restaurants that you were mentioning (I work in a Hotelschool here in Barcelona: www.euht-santpol.org and most of these cheffs collaborate with us), I'd like to give you the following recommendations:

1. Ferran Adria is unique. Please do not try to compare him with other 3 star cheffs. You will find a similar style in some restaurants that were created after Adria's El Bulli (I remind you that he is the 3rd cheff at El Bulli in 20 years: Before him, it achieved 2 stars, but he is tah one who made it famous: the new El BUlli is Ferran Adria.

2. El Raco de Can Fabes is a different story: he qained the third star one or tweo years before el Bulli. He has a unique cuisine, mopre classical that Adria (All the restaurants in the world are more classical than Adria) but more daring that the majority of 3 star restaurants in all Europe. Excellent 3 stars, always regular.

3. El Celler de Can Roca is an excellent 2 star restaurant, fighting for the 3rd.

4. There are new restaurants with young people that are fighting for the first star: Hisop, COmerç 24, etc..

5. You forgot excellent restaurants in Barcelona or its surroundings: Sant Pau: excellent 2 stars with a femenine touch of Carme Ruscalleda, Abac in Barcelona, a 1 star with Xavier Pallicer (former cheff at El Raco de Can Fabes for 7 years) offering a simple daring cuisine, El Racó de'n Freixa, a consilidated one star cheff in Barcelona, among others.

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LLuis, welcome to eGullet. I hope we'll see more posts from you. I agree that Adria is unique, although we will be seeing a lot of his influences, not only in Catalunya, but all over the world. I should also note that a lot has been written here about Barcelona and Catalunya outside of this thread. The cooking in Catalunya has lots of fans on eGullet these days.

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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hi guys, just got back from spain. food is definitely good there. i was in just a few cities for just a few days each, so i wasn't able to eat everywhere i wanted to. made it to can fabes the very night we got into spain. it was goood, very well executed. the sommelier recommended a very nice rioja (and got us into riojas for the rest of the trip, so much so that we bought some really nice ones home.) la alqueria in sevilla was good, but wasn't as refined and interesting, although dessert was excellent and service was better. la broche in madrid was very good, except for one meat course in the tasting menu that didn't seem to work, everything was very really good and interesting. service was the best anywhere i've seen, and they even offered to show us the kitchen. we also went to a few less formal restaurants and many, many tapa places. just about anywhere we went, food is generally very good, esp seafood, very tender and tasty. tasca hopping is definitely a lot of fun. sevilla seems to have the best coffee, and this little place in the old town of marbella has the best churro and hot chocolate. definitely want to go back again, just for the food, if nothing else...

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  • 4 months later...

Hey guys--

Out of the blue, I discovered that my twin sister and I would be going along with a bunch of our friends to Barcelona. :smile: We're leaving on Saturday night, arriving on Sunday morning. I have no idea where in the city we're staying, but I'm willing to travel to places that you all suggest.

I'm on the lookout for tapas bars, especially ones that can be accomodated on a small budget. Are there any suggestions that you guys have? I know that I at least want to check out Quimet i Quimet, the bar that Amanda Hesser reviewed in the NY Times magazine a couple years ago. Are there any other "can't miss" places that I should keep my eye out for?

Also, I should mention: I only have five full days in Barcelona, and one of those days might actually be in Madrid. So I'm gonna need to pack in a lot of eating during that time!

I plan to try and check out the Boqueria market that Marlena wrote about in her food blog. Any other markets to check out? Any other ANYTHING to check out? (Cheap) wine stores? Restaurants? (I think I'd only like to spend 30 euros at most on dinner, and not even for all the nights that I'll be going out. I'm really broke, gah).

I'm so excited! Any suggestions you guys have would be great. :smile: - Jayanthi

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I believe a classic place in Barcelona for catalan food is "7 Portes" in Plaza de Isabel II, in the neighbourhood of La Barceloneta. Shouldn´t be more than 25 euros per person, but it gets full quickly and I´m not sure if they take reservations, so maybe you need to be there early. It has very nice and cousy decoration and has been around for a long time.

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I remember liking a Basque Tapas bar called Taberna Vasca Irati in Barri Gothic when I was there a few years ago. Not sure what it's like now. It's reasonably cheap and a fun scene but can get crowded. If I remember correctly, the tapas (or more correctly, pinxtos) are only served during a certain time -- late afternoon to early evening and are just set out on the bar. Each one you take is on a toothpick and at the end they charge by how many toothpicks are on your plate and how many wines you had. Never had any of the main courses.

here's a link with more info:

http://www.wguides.com/city/18/131_82385.cfm

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In June of 2002, we spent under 60 euros for two at Can Majo eating seafood and rice st a pleasant outdoor table by the beach. We drank inexpensive, but good, wine and while we didn't order the most expensive things on the menu, we didn't skimp either. We've been there twice and I've written about the restaurant several times here on eGullet. You can do a search if you need more information.

Many of the tapas bars are Basque style, or at least style themselves as Basque. This is especially true of a few places with outdoor cafes north of the Placa de Catalunya. I don't recall the price range, but these are probably not the cheapest places around as it's an area of chic shops, expensive hotels, etc.

The Boqueria market in Barcelona may be one of the best in Europe and certainly the most colorful and best known in Barcelona, but both of the two other markets we've been in were also terrific. The Sant Antoni market and the one up on Mallorca and Villareal by the hostpital were both great markets. There are others--the Michelin city map seems littered with markets--and they may be great as well.

Where are you coming from?

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Bux, I'm flying out of Newark, NJ on Saturday afternoon. Do you have exact addresses for those two other markets? (I can Google 'em, but in case you have the info on hand, it'd be great). After reading Marlena's blog, I'm inclined to try out the bars near the Boqueria; hopefully, the areas surrounding those two other markets will be as fruitful.

And in response to jariggs's comment: do most tapas places adhere to specific hours? Are some of them all day-joints?

Thanks so much for the responses so far. :smile:

And, one more question: my trip is, I guess, now officially up in the air due to the Madrid attacks. I'm inclined to go anyway, as someone who lived through 9/11 in Manhattan. What would be everyone else's advice about this? According to the Washington Post, the ETA declared a ceasefire only in Catalonia. Should I take faith in this statement?

*Edited for spelling*

Edited by Pumpkin Lover (log)
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Do we know that this was ETA? If so, it's a new type of terrorism for them. The bombing may have the mark of other terrorists. I'm afraid we live with terrorism in our midst. NY doesn't seem safer than Madrid. I have no advice on that score. I lived through 9/11 and was on a plane to Paris within two months.

Mallorca and Villareal are the two cross streets at one corner of one of the markets. The Sant Antoni market is at the end of the Rhonda de Sant Antoni, one block from the Sant Antoni metro stop. The Mercat Sant Antoni is interesting. It's square, round or maybe octagonal, if I recall correctly. Anyway, I'd head for whatever markets were nearby to wherever I was.

Tapas seem to be available almost all hours of the day, but it may depend on the bar. The thing about most of Spain is that you can always seem to find a bar open with at least one or two offerings even if it's just a cold tortilla and some sausage or ham, but there's no real answer to what you'll find available in a city such as Barcelona except to say variety.

One word of warning about la Boqueria, it's right off la Rambla--one of the world's most heavily touristed streets. Some of the worst values I've had in terms of a cup of coffee or lunch have been in places right on the Rambla.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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According to the Washington Post, the ETA declared a ceasefire only in Catalonia.

Yes, it did. To the embarrassment of the inmense part of Catalonia population, which reject it. The only ceasefire acceptable from ETA is a total one.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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:biggrin: Happy you come to Barcelona, if you like the markets there are many, but none like la Boqueria, if you want to eat use those in the market like Pinotxo and the others. If you go to Mercat de Sant Antoni try Casa Lucio Viladomat, 59 Tel.934.244.401, its also restaurant, but try the tapas.

For cheap and good food try in Gràcia, Goliard at Progrés, 6 tel. 932 073 175 or Versio Original c.Reig i Bonet, 6 tel. 932 844 153.

more expensive OT c.Torres, 25 tel. 932 847 752.

These places are for normal people.

I hope you enjoy it

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My soon to be wife and I are arriving in Barcelona on July 3rd after a 12-day cruise through the Mediterranean. We have decided to stay one extra day in Barcelona before returning to the US. I have read about several restaurant postings on egullet. We are looking to eat at the best restaurant in Barcelona. I have read about the following:

El Raco d'ed Frexia

Alkimia

Hisop

Comerc 24

Abac

Cal I'isidre

Jean-Luc Figures

Botafumeiro

We would like an upscale restaurant with excellent seafood. Does anyone have recommendations regarding these restaurants or any other places in Barcelona?

Also, does anyone have any suggestions on upscale hotels in Barcelona? I have read mixed reviews about Hotel Ritz. Also, I have a hotel discount connection with the Ritz carlton, but read it is a ways away from the heart of Barcelona, is that true? What about the decor, it looks very modern?

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Hi, this is my first post here. I'm from Barcelona and I hope I can be helpful to people coming to Barcelona and Catalonia. I won't add much about the starred places since you all know about them more than I do, but I hope I can help you people find places that are both good and authentic -of course I hope to get similar advice for other cities- or answer culturally-related questions.

So, to add some spice to my post, let me concur with Pepe that Goliard is a very nice inexpensive restaurant. It is neither traditional nor highly creative but a very reasonable middle-ground with good roots in Catalan cooking. Eating there at lunch weekdays is a bargain (about 9€ with wine included).

I've also read a lot about Can Majó here. There are quite a number of similar restaurants in Barceloneta but at least two that I've tried are on a par with Can Majó: Cal Pinxo (c. Baluard, 124) and Cal Ramonet (c. Maquinista, 17). You'll eat as well and at the same price level, but the clientele is bound to be less touristy since all guides feature Can Majó.

Now let's get to the heart of it. If you're like me, you love local places where people eat well and tourists are nowhere to be found. It would seem a little foolish of me to publicize a place like that to see it flocked with egulleteers, but I hope the e-gullet community is still far and small enough not to spoil it -and a couple of wandering tall Americans going in now and then is also a fun and welcome sight-. In this place called Foxos, a more-or-less Galician restaurant, there are no single tables, people sit where they can; there are no reservations, people wait till they can get seated; food is wholesome, delicious and portions are huge; there is no written menu, the waiter tells it to the clients and no one will talk English, unless you find some young patron willing to help. Plus it is located in a working class neighbourhood so you'll be eating with people you don't usually see, and they'll be friendly although difficult to communicate with.

I lack English vocab to fully describe dishes, but most of you will probably know the names: salpicon de marisco, escudella i carn d'olla, lentejas con chorizo, codillo -huge!-, estofado de ternera, are some of the house staples. A Spanish inn 50 years ago.

Now, unfortunately I don't have the exact address but it is located in Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes between c. Agricultura and c. Cantabria, at around number 1100. The nearest tube station, two blocks away, is Sant Marti (Line #2, 4 stops from Sagrada Familia).

Oh, and it's only open for lunch. Cheaper than dirt on weekdays (7.50), a little more expensive on Saturdays (15-20), but then you can try their jamon.

Hope you like it!

alfred

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a more-or-less Galician restaurant, ... and no one will talk English,

I hope they speak Spanish as not too many tourists are likely to speak Gallego or Catala. :biggrin:

Welcome to eGullet. We look forward to more posts about the local Barcelona.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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does anyone have any suggestions on upscale hotels in Barcelona?  I have read mixed reviews about Hotel Ritz.  Also, I have a hotel discount connection with the Ritz carlton, but read it is a ways away from the heart of Barcelona, is that true?  What about the decor, it looks very modern?

My preferance in Barcelona is to stay near the upper Ramblas (Gran Via de las Corts Catalanes) and as far away from the lower Ramblas as possible. If youare staying only one day, it is essential you stay in a central location, as mentioned above. There are several upscale and beautiful hotels there, are you looking for a modern looking hotel or one more traditional looking so you know you are in Spain and not at a Sheraton in middle America? I do not feel the Ritz there is worth the money they are asking. Some suggestions are the Majestic, Condes de Barcelona, Claris, Avenida Palace.

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Not as far away from the lower Ramblas as possible in the literal sense. Once you're northwest of the placa de Catalunya it's a different Barcelona. I'd say the placa de Catalunya was the center of town. The area we like runs along the Rambla de Catalunya, pas. de Gracia and Pau Claris from the Gran Via de les Cortes Catalanes almost up to av. Diagonal, but closer to the Gran Via is more central.

In terms of a good restaurant, when you speak of eating in the best restaurant in Barcelona and of an upscale restaurant with excellent seafood, it seems to imply you may be unware that Barcelona is in the middle of a major culinary revolution.

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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a more-or-less Galician restaurant, ... and no one will talk English,

I hope they speak Spanish as not too many tourists are likely to speak Gallego or Catala. :biggrin:

Welcome to eGullet. We look forward to more posts about the local Barcelona.

I doubt you'll ever hear Gallego in Foxos...and, yes, of course everyone speaks Spanish.

Now let me tell you, Bux, that I enjoy your posts a lot. It's great to find an American with such good knowledge and appreciation for our food, plus I love your writing style. And since I'm on this road, let me add that I appreciate vserna's posts as well -and I've used his suggestions a couple of times already.

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I doubt you'll ever hear Gallego in Foxos...and, yes, of course everyone speaks Spanish.

I guess I was not really aware that Gallego was a distinct language or that it was as alive as it is until we traveled in Galicia a few years ago. There are sounds that remind me both of Portuguese and of Catala. It was interesting, in a very abstract way.

Now let me tell you, Bux, that I enjoy your posts a lot. It's great to find an American with such good knowledge and appreciation for our food, plus I love your writing style. And since I'm on this road, let me add that I appreciate vserna's posts as well -and I've used his suggestions a couple of times already.

If you appreciate vserna's posts "as well" as mine, I've done a great job of faking it. :biggrin: I've been taking Victor's advice since we met on the NY Times food forum sometime after a trip to Arzak sparked an interest in Spain as a gastronomic destination in the late 90's. My enthusiasm, as I'm still discovering Spain as a gastronomic destination, is greater than my knowledge.

There have been a few American champions of Spanish cooking, but Spain has not traditionally been a destination for American gastronomes. That's changing. Right now, Spain probably still has the attention of more American chefs, than diners. We've discussed this elsewhere in the forum, but Spain isn't set up with gastronomic inns encouraging that kind of travel the way France has been for generations.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Out of these hotels, which one would you recommend?

Majestic, Condes de Barcelona, Claris, Avenida Palace.

These are the restaurants that I keep coming back to as some of the best in Barcelona. Does anyone have a favorite or a good recomendation besides these?

El Raco d'ed Frexia

Alkimia

Hisop

Comerc 24

Abac

Cal I'isidre

Jean-Luc Figures

Botafumeiro

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Actually I'm not the guy to talk about restaurants in Barcelona. I've eaten most of my great Catalan meals in the countryside. I have little first hand experienced in Barcelona proper at the top places and even less with the avant garde places. I was most favorably impressed by Ca L'Isidre, but part of that may have to do with mistakenly thinking it was a neighborhood tavern before I got there. I think it was also my introduction to a fine rendering of traditional Catalan food with touches of modern or contemporary cooking. I seem to recall we arrived rather tired and ordered lightly, but the quality came through nevertheless as I realized it was far better than what we were looking for. As with really good food, it quickly brought our attention and appreciation up to its level. I just remembered why I was not in the mood for fine food. We had just arrived in Barcelona and I was taking my last doses of an antibiotic and couldn't drink wine. That definitely puts a damper on my mood and lessen my interest in food. All the more credit to the food that changed my mood.

We also ate at Jean-Luc Figures. I remember enjoying the meal very much, but found the service much too rushed. I distinctly recall each course arriving at the same time they cleard our tables of the previous course. I think it seriously interferred with our appreciation of the individual courses as we had no time to think of them or discuss them.

I just have no first hand experience with those other places, although I know of a couple of good casual places. Whatever I know of the details of the revolution in cooking in Barcelona, I know mostly from what I read here.

I have been thinking of the one great meal idea and it's occurred to me that of the really and truly outstandingly great meals I've had in Spain, there was one that was about a half hour's drive north of Barcelona and probably accessible by train and taxi and maybe even worth a taxi ride back and forth. El Raco de Can Fabes has as good a claim as any three star restaurant in Spain as being the best restaurant as well as the place to get the best food in Spain. Santi Santamaria, in spite of the fact he's not doing the experimental work that Adria is, or perhaps because he's not, is certainly on the short list of the greatest chefs in Spain. If one is willing to consider Sant Celoni as accessible from Barcelona, El Raco de Can Fabes is Barcelona's best restaurant and unlike El Bulli, I think the food is accessible to a wide range of diners.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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El Raco de Can Fabes has as good a claim as any three star restaurant in Spain as being the best restaurant as well as the place to get the best food in Spain. Santi Santamaria, in spite of the fact he's not doing the experimental work that Adria is, or perhaps because he's not, is certainly on the short list of the greatest chefs in Spain. If one is willing to consider Sant Celoni as accessible from Barcelona, El Raco de Can Fabes is Barcelona's best restaurant and unlike El Bulli, I think the food is accessible to a wide range of diners.

I hate it when Bux is so much more eloquent than I will ever be.

:)

jayhawk0328, you have listed perhaps the best-known restaurants in your list. If you want a classic experience with excellent seafood, then Botafumeiro is the place to go, no doubt. In a similar "classic" vein is Ca L'Isidre, but less for seafood than other classic catalan cuisine. As Bux mentioned, Can Fabes is definitely worth the trip if you can get a reservation (and have a fat wallet).

Comerç 24 is run by an Adria "expatriot". Small portions of inventive cuisine. Located in the blisteringly hip Born neighbourhood.

Alkimia is headed by the very inventive Jordi Vila. Expect daring and off-beat combinations. One of the most-talked about new recent openings in town.

Hisop is a charming place run by a small group of devoted foodies. Two young chef's from Neichel man the stoves.

If you are interested in another place with "creative" cuisine, you should check out Ot. It is in the bohemian Gràcia neighbourhood and only has 6-tables, so you need to book ahead. Nerdgirl wrote a review here on eGullet recently which you should search for if you are interested.

Another place that just opened is in the Hotel Omm and is called Moo (almost as unfortunate a name for english-speakers as the restaurant Muffins, which does not serve muffins). Moo is run by the Roca brothers who operate the Michelin-starred Can Roca in Girona, and the hotel itself is part of the ever-growing Tragaluz empire. They offer a short and a long tasting menu with wine pairings. Expensive, but the place is getting good buzz.

If our own restaurant was open already, I would put in a shameless plug for it too, but we are still about 6-8 weeks away from opening day! Wish us luck!

Enjoy your trip and let us know how your meal went.

Jordi.

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Thank you Bux and bcnchef. I thought Bux's reference to the revolution would involve ElBullian influences. Like you, I've found good food a bit outside the city, necessitating a car; there's a wonderful renovated grand casa, La Placa or La Plaza, depending on language, in Madremanya (nr Girona/Gerona) for staying (3 rooms) and eating run by a young couple, the chef having been at or influenced by ElBulli. Also 22 Km. to the northwest of Barcelona in San Quirico des Valles/Sant Quirze del Valles is Lluernari, also innovative. They're both easily locatable in the Michelin Red agglomerations of Girona/Gerona and Barcelona, respectively, and both are smiley-faced Bib Gourmands. I usually get to Barcelona once a year so I'll look for Jordi's restaurant next year; what's its name?

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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