Tapas and epic amounts of Cava for one: no idea but it was all worth it
Recently I took advantage of my proximity to the rest of Europe by hopping over for 5 days in Barcelona. I’ve been to Spain before and loved it but I can say that Barcelona is definitely my favorite city there. Its a great place to visit if you are interested in art, architecture, design and most especially eating yourself into a coma. While I did have quite a few very nice proper sit down meals in restaurants I spent most of my time wandering from bar to bar sampling more tapas than were probably healthy and here are some of my favorites. They are all over the city so check your maps before you try to hit all of them in one day.
C/ Mercè, 16
24€ for 3 dishes and 2 glasses of Cava
Celta is a pulperia which means it specializes in pulpo (octopus) and other seafoody items. It’s a great place to try a whole bunch of things as everything is out on the counters and you can just point at whatever looks good. It all looks good though so an appetite is recommended.
I had the grilled pulpo of course. So simple and so delicious – very fresh octopus grilled with a little lemon and pimiento (hot paprika). I also had a plate of grilled razor clams which were quite a bit bigger then I usually like to eat my razor clams. But they were fresh and sweet and delicious.
Placeta Montcada, 1-3
I did not note the cost – but it wasn’t much
Euskal Etxea specializes in Basque food – especially Basque tapas called pintxos. This place is great fun as you order a drink (I recommend the cider) and grab a plate and then you graze. This was one of my favorites and I came back several times over the 5 days I was there. I recommend – everything.
C/ Montcada, 22
Again no idea what it cost me
Basically right across the street from Euskal Etxea this Catalan joint was rammed with a combo of locals and tourists. The place is absolutely tiny and a bit hectic but the tapas and all of the canned seafood on offer were lovely. I’ve never enjoyed fish out of a can so much.
C/ Diputació, 269
15€ for one tapas and a glass of Cava
Tapa C24 is definitely a bit more upscale than your average tapas bar. This is a gourmands dream come true. I only stopped in to have a little nibble before a dinner reservation at an actual restaurant but the single item I did have was just ridiculous.
I asked the nice man behind the bar what he recommended and he literally picked up a box of fresh morels, dug his hands in and held a bunch of them out for me to inspect with a huge smile on his face. After that level of enthusiasm how could I refuse. Little did I know that they were going to return bathed in butter and topped of with a perfectly grilled piece of Foie. It definitely did not appear to be traditionally Spanish, Basque or Catalan but oh my word was it delicious.
C/ Mallorca, 236
Yet again not even a remote idea of what I spent!
Cerveceria Catalana is recommend in all the guide books and by everyone I know who ever was in Barcelona and while often that does not bode well in this case it is with good reason. Its so popular that you are actually at an advantage being on your own as there is always a single stool at one of the two bars to grab rather than having to queue up for a table. The food here is fantastic.
I also stopped by one morning for breakfast which was also very very good.
Taller de Tapas
C/ Argenteria, 51
40€ but I really pigged out at this place
Taller de Tapas was recommended by my friend Jennie with such reverie that I knew I had to try it. Again I got lucky being on my own as I was able to sidle up to the bar and grab the lone single stool. The service here was absolutely fantastic and I was steered towards what was fresh that evening. I really overdid it here with squid, grilled wild mushrooms, botiffara (Catalan sausage) and beans AND a plate of Jamon Iberico. I was so full when I left that I had to fight the temptation to just lay down on the street and take a nap.
El Quim de La Boqueria
Inside the Boqueria Market
18€ for 2 tapas and wine
Saving the best for last there is El Quim which is a stall in the Boqueria Market. I visited several other markets throughout the city which I thought were better for shopping (i.e. not aimed at the tourist trade) but Boqueria is still an incredible place and well worth wandering around in. At lunch time it is absolutely mental with people standing menacingly behind diners at the more popular eateries in an attempt to hurry them off of their seats. I had the worst tapas I have ever had in my entire life in the Boqueria so just note that if a tapas bar isn’t busy at lunch time – there is probably a reason.
I got lucky when I was walking past El Quim when again a magical single stool became free and I grabbed it. I asked one of the at least 6 full sized men squeezed into the tiny kitchen behind the bar what I should have and he told me that one of their specialties was fried eggs with small squids – which sounded frankly wrong. I am so so glad that I just decided to give it a go because it ended up being my single favorite thing that I ate in my entire trip.
It was astonishingly good. Very simple – literally two ingredients – very fresh and cooked perfectly. The sweetness of the little squids with the egg was superb. I insist that you go stand behind someone at this stall until you can pull a chair up to try this or any of their other interesting looking creations.
Barcelona is an excellent city for an eater and it is especially easy to eat out on your own here. Restaurant and bar service was generally excellent. Expect to part with quite a bit of cash here as nothing is cheap.