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Barcelona Restaurant Recommendations


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I was thinking largely of the multistarred places such as Can Roca in Gerona, Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar, and the exceptional El Bulli and Can Fabes. On a lesser level, we had a very enjoyable meal in a restaurant in Barcelona at L'Olivé. It was the evening after a general strike and few places were open, so we took our chances here. The food was fairly traditional, but it was clearly a modern restaurant with both contemporary decor and contemporary touches to the dishes and the menu. Here's what I wrote almost two years ago.

Many restaurants opened in the evening, and we had a very good meal a few blocks from our hotel. We just picked the closest spots with a Michelin listing and checked menus. L'Olive was a very handsomely decorated restaurant with nice, but casual service. Excellent calamar a la plancha--very tender, an interesting salad with pig's feet wafers, a nice arroz caldoso con mariscos and cod with beans. I don´t know why cod tastes better in Spain than in NY or anywhere in France.
We're not exactly sure how they arrived at those "wafers." I think they were listed as salad of crusty pig´s feet. Forgive my translations, I´m not so good at Spanish and worse yet at Catalan. My guess is that they made some sort of jelled mold of everything scraped off the bones together with some onions. I´d further guess that this was frozen and sliced very thinly (almost paper thin) and the slices deep fried quickly. Esilda thinks they may have been slowly dried in the oven. In either case they were like (American) chips. The closest taste we can offer as an example might be pork rinds.

L'Olive was actually a fairly upscale place a few blocks northwest of the placa Catalunya. Upscale in decor and ambience. The total cost of dinner ran about $85 with a nice bottle of Albet i Noya bio chardonnay. Portions were rather huge. Wish it was in my neighborhood.           

I meant to imply that I thought the prices were hardely upscale, especially for the food and service. I didn't see L'Olive as a destination place, but rather as a good value for someone who was already in Barcelona. It's been some time and I haven't heard anything else about it.

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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Just returned last night from Barcelona (please forgive any linguistic lapses since I'm still jet-lagged) andI have nothing but raves about Alkimia. It may have been the best meal I've ever had, including French Laundry in this country and French 3 Stars in France.

We had the tasting menu -- 10 unbelievable courses, delicious and yet so creative and innovative -- i will never think of celery in the same way again -- and all for 40 Euros a person! Even the bottled water, the obligatory glass of Cava and an "of the region" red wine were all a bargain. The restuarant is very clean and minimalist looking but comfortable.

We also really enjoyed Ca l'Isidre and Abac. Ca l'Isidre is not as innovative as Alkimia or Abac but solidly very good. The night we were there the owner was walking around with his box of truffles and offering whiffs. We had a fabulous roast suckling pig at Abac and some very interesting first courses as well.

Spain is definitely on our hit parade!

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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?

It all depends whether you like more innovative or more classic cuisine.

If you like more innovative cuisine, I would go for Alkimia or hisop.

For the more classic, but modern cuisine, I would take the trip to Can Fabes in Sant Celoni (about 40 minutes from BCN by train?).

If you want to stay in BCN, and you would like to have more the Can Fabes style of cuisine, I would probably go for Àbac.

But all the restaurants you mentioned are modern cuisines, although some more innovative then classic.

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My guarded opinion is that Santi Santamaria represents the current best of Catalunya in terms of establishement and contemporary cuisine as opposed to cutting edge cuisine, and that his restaurant El Raco de Can Fabes is the one that best meets the description of "best restaurant" as little as I like the idea that there is a "restaurant" in any objective sense. At any rate, El Bulli is too far away from Barcelona for dinner.

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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These two sites should at least give you the phone numbers if you don't have a Michelin Guía Roja handy. About the only other useful information is found on the image of a restaurant bill that can be viewed by clicking on the euro sign. It's worth noting, especially for all of you who bone up on your high school Spanish before heading to Spain, that the dishes are listed in Catalan not Spanish. I've yet to find a restaurant that didn't have menus in both Spanish and Catalan in Barcelona and everyone seems to speak Spanish, but the daily working language seems more and more to be Catalan.

Abac http://www.webares.com/catala/rest/bcn/dades/frbcaa10.htm

Alkimia http://www.webares.com/catala/rest/bcn/dades/frbcak10.htm

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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I wish that I had read asola's posts while I was in town! There's always next time... but man, Foxos sounds great.

Thanks for the advice, everyone--I'm back in NYC, dreaming of Spanish wines. During my stay in the city, I lived in an apartment with eight other ladies at the south end of the Rambla, C. Santa Monica. Two minutes away from the Boqueria--one morning, I bought enough slices of jamon serrano to last me the day's sightseeing. :laugh:

Here are my highlights:

1) Mou Celler. It's listed in the guidebooks, but it was a quality restaurant, and it gave me my first *real* exposure to tapas. Baccala with tomatoes and oil, omelette with olives, ham croquettes (YES!), a huge slice of bread with jamon iberico (it reminded me of Chinese roast pork), a cheese plate (manchego, two types of brie, cana de cabra, roquefort), patatas bravas. I don't have the address, but it was great.

2) Celler de Gelida. A beautiful wine shop on Vallespir, an area of the city that was devoid of tourists and therefore very welcome to me. It was AMAZING: each wine came with a description provided by the store, including how long one should age it, etc. I know next to nothing about wine, but I think I came away with some purchases that I'll always cherish. I highly suggest this store; my twin sister was tipped to it from another food/wine forum, I'm not sure which. By the way, the store itself was beautiful, with wood floors and shelves, and a small staircase in the back. Gorgeous.

3) Quimet y Quimet. Amanda Hesser and Jeffrey Steingarten both wrote about this place in 2002, and it was everything that they said it was. High quality preserved and canned foods became tapas. Salmon on toast with a thick yogurt, spicy honey, and vinegar (or maybe it was a Heinz bottle that I saw?); pate with roasted cipollini onions on toast with BV; olives wrapped in anchovies and speared with an onion; clams on tomato and toast, topped with caviar; vinegary mushroom salad with small slices of pate; toast topped with a cheese that we think was called Obeha (? it's a soft, spreadable cheese that had a salty, strong flavor on its own), topped with a chestnut. Everything was MINDBLOWING. I discovered how great Ochoa dessert wine is. :smile:

4) Finally, here's a new one that hopefully no one here has heard of. :smile: It's a Japanese restaurant that, evidently, other chefs in Barcelona flock to. My friend was friends with a chef there (say hi to Suzuki-san!) It's called Shojiro Restaurant, Ros de Olano, 11. We had the menu del dia for lunch: an amuse of tuna in vinegar, tempura of white baby shrimp, filet of pork, and mango parfait. Shojiro changes the menu every day; sometimes, it's more Japanese, and other days, it's more Spanish. The pork was killer. Everything was perfect, not too oily like some tempura here in the NYC.

I wish I were back; I wish I had bought more wine at Gelida!!! Someone go buy wine there in my honor! :raz:

Again, thanks for the advice. You luckies in Barcelona, keep the city safe for me when I get back there!

*Edited for spelling*

Edited by Pumpkin Lover (log)
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I wish that I had read asola's posts while I was in town! There's always next time... but man, Foxos sounds great.

Sorry about that, I lost a couple of days getting in as a member.

Anyway, if you're interested in buying wine in Barcelona there's a couple of places I can recommend other than the famous Vila Viniteca (c. Agullers 7). There's a big place called 'Vinacoteca' in c. Valencia, 595. Great number of selections at great prices, both cheap and expensive, though weak in foreign wines -which is no disadvantage for you visitors-. A perhaps more suitable place for visitors is a little shop in c. Sombrerers (can't find the number but it's a very small street, right besides Santa Maria del Mar) where the owner is an American who speaks an excellent Catalan. Since he's a native English speaker and has been living here for years as his commanding Catalan shows, he's just the right person to ask whatever you want to know, whether you buy there or not.

The subject of good Japanese restaurants is one I'm interested in, let's save for another day and another thread -though I'll be asking more than giving advice-.

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How did you secure a reservation at Abac or Alkimia? I don't see a website for either one to on-line reservations.

http://www.restaurantabac.biz/

http://www.canfabes.com/

Of Alkimia, I don't know whether they have a web site.

Edit: Alkimia, C/Industria 79, 08025 Barcelona, 93-2076115

Edited by paulbrussel (log)
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I see that places like Alkimia and Comerç 24 get many mentions here, and deservedly so, but other modern Barcelona restaurants with interesting cuisines don't get as much ink - Hisop, Colibrí, Saüc for instance.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Out of these hotels, which one would you recommend?

Majestic, Condes de Barcelona, Claris, Avenida Palace.

It really depends on wether you want modern or old world. Here is a one or two word description of each:

Claris - sophisticated, sleek, a designer's dream hotel

Condes de Barcelona - Art Nouveau

Avenida Palace - Old World spanish, lots of antiques in the lobby

Majestic - Belle Epoque, eclectic lobby, a favorite of visiting dignitaries

If you want modern I would go to the Claris, otherwise, my choice would be the Majestic and third the Avenida Palace

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Returned form BCN last week, and amongst other places did Alkimia for lunch which to me was not the experience I had hoped it to be. The dishes were well prepared, but the Pulpitos/rice dish was heavy without distinction, the espardenyes lacked the "crunch" that is unique for this dish. Excellent service though, and some bargains on the wine list, particularly Jacques Selosse's "Substance" at approx. 90€.

El Celler de Can Roca was a MAJOR letdown, the service and attention were not worthy of any Michelin rated restaurant, and probably taints my impression of the food, but at some points haløf our table was served one dish whilst the other half had to wait for 5' for their portions. Some standout dishes were presentede, but tom me hardly worth the 100km trip. Much better to stop at the halfway point in St.Celoni.

My favourite this time as before: COLIBRI in Riera Alta. I went there with the proprietor/chef of Norway's only 2* restaurant, and to him this was one of THE best places he's tried in BCN (And he's done most of them). Superb atention from Robert, excellent espardenyes, flavourful tuna tartar with its mango vinaigrette. Fresh pulpitos to die for, succulent rodaballo. Every dish accompanied by a little extra that adds the magical twist to the basic flavours, and beautifuylly presented. Only letdown for me was the texture of the lamb, even though the sauce and spices were superb. Hopefully Michelin will not notice this little gem.

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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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I'm visiting Barcelona in June for the first time in June and am looking for a little bit of advice on where to eat. I would like some alternatives in different price catagories, but all well located near the center of the city.

I run a haute cuisine restaurant in London, so i do appreciate good food, but i do not want to pay the earth while i am there.

I would be grateful if anyone could recommend some good "cafes" and also some better restaurants for me to visit while i am there. I arrive on the 22 june and leave on the 27. I believe there is also a festival or bank holiday during this time.

So all advice is greatly appreciated!

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There have been a zillions of threads on eating in Barcelona, top restaurants, cheap eats, etc with personal accounts and reviews. Do a simple search in eG for Barcelona and I am sure you will find lots of suggestions. :hmmm:

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I stayed at the Condes de Barcelona two years ago for my pre- and post-cruise stays. The location is wonderful (just across from a famous Gaudi apartment building) and quite convenient. They actually have two buildings, kitty corner from each other. Before my cruise, I stayed in the "newer"(?) side. The room was spacious and elegant. There was a lovely winding staircase that you can take to the top of the building and look out at the vistas around you. The clientele were mostly business types.

However, when I checked-in again at the Condes after my cruise, I was directed to the building across the street. The room was older and grimier. It was also not as spacious as the first room I had. However, I paid the same price for both room types.

I would definitely recommend the Condes, but be sure to specify that you want to stay in the "new" building.

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I'm visiting Barcelona in June for the first time in June and am looking for a little bit of advice on where to eat. I would like some alternatives in different price catagories, but all well located near the center of the city.

I run a haute cuisine restaurant in London, so i do appreciate good food, but i do not want to pay the earth while i am there.

I would be grateful if anyone could recommend some good "cafes" and also some better restaurants for me to visit while i am there. I arrive on the 22 june and leave on the 27. I believe there is also a festival or bank holiday during this time.

So all advice is greatly appreciated!

Yes, 23 June it's Sant Joan (Saint John), you can find a Guy Fawkes night in Barcelona and in all Catalonia, we dance in the streets, we drink cava and eat coca (its a sweet pastry) almost all the night, then we go to see the sun rise at Barceloneta or Olimpic village, the underground runs all the night, enjoy it!

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Conor/ there are many wonderful restaurant suggestions on this forum but having just returned from Barcelona I'ld love to offer my two favorites--Cal Pep and Alkimia. The two are quite different but both I feel offer outstanding food, good value, (though neither is cheap) and two unique perspectives on the Barcelona food scene. Cal Pep is very casual. You sit at a long bar and for two odd hours the most fantastic seafood dishes appear. You never see a menu. They will ask for your preferences then serve you plate after plate of incredible food. The "pica-pica", lightly fried young shellfish and fish just melted in our mouths, the whitebait stirred with a soft fried egg, and the prawns were three of the outstanding dishes we enjoyed. You'll also enjoy the bonhommie of the other diners around you. In all a great evening.

Alkimia on the other hand is much more formal. The white and stark restaurant is all cutting edge. Our dinner began with kind of deconstructed gazpacho--a shot of clear tomatoe liquid served with a slight film of wonderful olive oil in a thin tube of a shot glass garnished with a few crunchy crumbs. Covering the glass was a thin piece of a richly flavored cured sausage. The flavors were intense and the visuals-- all clarity made it a little bit magical. We moved onto an appetizer of baby squid served on a short grained rice tinted with the squid ink that was luscious. Our favorite entree was the lamb served with a bit of cheese fondue. The lamb was so tender and flavorful it was like nothing we had ever eaten. My son the red meat fan had a steak that was not overly great but everything besides was amazing.

Barcelona is one of the most exciting food cities in the world today. Go hungry Conor and I'm sure you won't go wrong.

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Cata 1.81 - C/València, 181 - Barcelona - 93-323-68-18

Is not expensive at all, and interesting!

Prices between 1.70 and 7.25 €; 20 € (Menú Degustació) and 29 € (Menú Degustació First Class).

oh yes, cata 1.81 on calle valencia is fabulous, and ideal for the more economically constrained epicure.

:wink:

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Another great choice for a more formal restaurant is Abac, which is dead easy to find (under the Park Hotel, near the Barceloneta metro).

Just got back from a weekend in Barcelona and managed to get a table there on short notice. Had a really great time made all the more memorable by the surprisingly friendly and enthusiastic front of house team. Even changing one of the dishes in what was supposed to be a set tasting menu was no problem. And - the suckling pig, which I found a little too one-note meaty, aside - every single dish was superbly balanced. The food had just enough modern touches (basil ice cream and the like) while still relying on classical cooking and quality ingredients.

One thing I would suggest, wherever you decide to go, is to book ahead for evenings. If I hadn't managed to get into Abac I'd have been stumped. I checked out several restaurant recommended on these boards, and all seemed to get booked well in advance.

restaurant, private catering, consultancy
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