A friend of mine recently asked me to give her an overview of my favorite places to eat in Barcelona. While I admit I may have slacked on the research part before going there (Which means I’m sure I have missed a dozen yummy & notorious places) I did end up having some culinary experiences to remember. I also spent half of my vacation staring at Gaudi architecture.
Here goes nothing…
48 hours of food & Gaudi in Barcelona
Day 1: Eixample and Barri Gotic
1/ Sagrada Familia
Wake up as early as you possibly can and head for the Sagrada familia. Make sure you have a big healthy breakfast. This is going to be a long day. To avoid queuing (the queue is worse than a Mickey ride for 5 year olds in Disney land) you can purchase your tickets online. Make sure you go for the audioguide which will take you on a 2 hour visit but be advised you may very well end up spending 3 or 4 hours inside one of the most beautiful buildings in the world (trust me, I am a self loathing architect, if I say a building is worth it, it’s worth it).
Try to get out of there by 11:00 AM. Your next stop is another Gaudi masterpiece.
2/ La pedrera
La pedrera and the Sagrada familia are both located in the Eixample district. Once you have taken in the magnificent church, walk down the Passeig de Gràcia until you reach the beautiful wavy residential building. On your way you will see some of the past century’s most interesting spanish architectures, most notably the Illa de la Discordia; This city block is noted for having buildings by four of Barcelona’s most important Modernista architects, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Antoni Gaudí, Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Enric Sagnier.
The Pedrera, also known as the Casa Milla, looks alive with its undulating facade and sea world inspired iron balcony decorations, and floor cladding. Food is near but do not rush. Take your time. Explore the exhibition in the attic. Marvel at the infinite details of the furniture.
3/ Tapas 24
It’s finally time for lunch. Tapas 24 is the brainchild of El bulli alumni, Chef Carles Abellan. The more relaxed of his 4 barcelona venues offers a large selection of local tapas with that little extra touch.
We had Chorizo and lentil soup, Gaspacho, the Iberic Jamon, cheese and black truffle sandwich, Mussels, and of course a plateful of the infamous tomato bread. Every single dish we had was well balanced and perfectly seasoned. Either we picked the right tapas or everything on the menu is yummy. Given our experience at Chef Abellan’s other Barcelona venue, Commerc 24, I’d go for the second option.
4/ Barri Gotic
As the afternoon rolls in, stroll through the Barri Gotic, the center of the city. Most buildings there date from Medieval times, small labyrinthic streets give way to large squares, and the streets are always buzzing with pedestrians. If you are into art or sightseeing, the Barri Gotic has its fair share of museums & cathedrals.
If you’re like me and you’d much rather stroll through the city, then the Barri Gotic has enough streets and shops to keep you occupied until dinner.
5/ Celler de tapas
I know it’s pretty disappointing for me to guide you to a franchise rather than an authentic, unique tapas bar, but Celler de Tapas and the other restaurants of this franchise were really consistently good. The Barri Gotic tends to be touristic and this place is the closest we got to quality food in that neighborhood.
If you don’t trust my taste then hear out this dog (pictured below): Her owner had taken her out for a night stroll, when they passed in front of the restaurant. As they walked by, she could smell the food (it was August and Celler de tapas was the only restaurant open in the neighborhoud). She then decided she would refuse to move until someone fed her. Her owner plead, and yelled, and ordered her around but she lay there for more than 10 minutes, waiting for some yummy food to come her way.
If you still aren’t convinced, it might be helpful to know that many tapas bars share the square where this restaurant is located (Placa Universitat).If my choice doesn’t convince you once you’re there, you can always find another one to your liking.
We had scallops with asparagus, tomato bread, calamars, walnut and rocca salad for dinner, then washed them off with a chocolate crepe and fried milk with cinnamon for desert. On another occasion, at the other restaurant of the franchise (yes, we tried two of them), Lonja de tapas, we had anchovies, gaspacho, stuffed mussels, crispy calamari, and Paella. I could not fault any of these dishes.
Now go back to the hotel and get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow is a day filled with adventure.
Day 2 – A parc, a museum, a market and a gastronomic meal