Monday, June 23, 2014

Eating BIG in Spain: Barcelona

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- Eating and drinking thru Spain's most international city

The final stop of this trip thru Spain take's us to the most visited city in the country. Ever since nabbing the '92 Olympic games Barcelona has become a global travel destination and with it a real deal international city. Everything that makes a city such is here. From the beautiful architecture and parks to the waterfront as well as world class dining and an eccentric nightlife scene. People visit from all over the globe and some of them never leave. Two of my best friends stay here so I knew I was in good hands as they showed us a great time. Of all the stops we made on this trip thru Spain we easily covered the most ground here. Whether in the Gothic neighborhood where our apartment rental would be or the Gracia neighborhood where we'd spend a night eating and drinking we saw a very nice chunk of the city but still have plenty to see on a return trip which is definitely in store. Barcelona is totally different from Madrid as it felt like a mix of San Francisco and South Beach. The people and lifestyle vary greatly from the rest of the country.

Viva la Barca

La Cova Fumada

Locals enjoying a bite to eat

This will be the first food stop of the post and that's because it was one of our favorites. I'd read about this locally loved place online and made a note to check it out. We would end up doing so twice and on our first visit we were the only tourists in the place which got packed right after we were seated. It's a pretty small no frills space but the seafood is super fresh and they have quite a few signature dishes that the regulars stop in for. On our second visit the couple we were sharing a table with asked how we found the place as they said they were regulars and always impressed when they see tourists dining there. Barcelona isn't cheap but this spot was a steal as far as both portions and quality goes.

Bomba - These beef filled balls are one of the signature tapas around town and as our wonderful waiter told us, they're credited for creating them. Very tasty and some actual spicy sauce on top (Spaniards arent fond of spicy food).

Bread Spread w/ Garlic - LOADED with Flavor and a nice change of pace from the more standard pan con tomato.

House Artichokes - They love their 'chokes in these parts and here they have a plate that will have you licking every last drop of flavor out of each piece until you reach the holy grail in the middle. These were had on both stops in.

Razor Clams - We ordered these beauties throughout the trip and they always pleased. Simple preparation is all thats needed, it's all about the clam.

Gambas - Fresh Shrimp for breakfast, not a bad way to start the day.

Scampi - Gorgeous prawns were ordered on both visits.

Mussels - Perfectly cooked plump specimens in the houses signature red sauce. Excellent soaked in bread.

Sausage and Beans - One of a better breakfasts I had this trip, this dish would be a regular for me if I was living in Barcelona. Yet again another simple perfectly executed dish. Service was extra friendly and very helpful. Big fan of this place.

The Bodegas of Barcelona

In Spanish ‘bodega’ means cellar. In Barcelona and other parts of the country the term is often used to describe a wine shop, bar and even small Chinese owned convenience stores. We hit up a few of these food and drink focused spots to enjoy some of both. I look forward to trying more my next visit.

Bodega La Palma - This off the beaten path winehouse is hidden amongst quite a few restaurants and artsy places in the Gothic 'hood. They've been doing seasonal small plate menus for over 75 years and were a nice stop for the artichoke with sun dried tomatoes and duck pastrami plate.

Bar Bodega Quimet- We stopped in here one night while exploring the Gracia 'hood and just decided tot try this when we saw someone else with one. It was a poached egg with beans and maybe some ham, I forget. Nice beer snack though.

La Plata - Our favorite of these three they only have four menu items here but they do them all to perfection. Bread smeared with tomatoes, a tomato based salad and fried anchovies were all enjoyed as were the $1/euro cups of house wine.

Lolita Taperia

One of the city's hottest spots for a while now 

Lolita's is one of my friends favorite stops so of course we made our way over there one night. One of the partners of this place left to go run the much hyped 'Tickets' but the other one has kept much of eveyrthing intact. They immediately remembered my friend who had moved back to Barca the day we arrived and the service was sensational while the food really hit the spot. Excellent night out.

Smoked Tuna w/ Nuts - A perfect dish to start with and an awesome plate of food. This theme would continue with the rest of the meal

Tuna Tartar - Tasted as good as it looks.

Lightly Dusted Shrimps - Simple but succulent.

Eggplant - I wish I remembered exactly how this dish was prepped but I can tell you to ask for it and order it should they have it. The earlier you get here the better as they can run out of items for the day.

Patatas Bravas - Best version of this popular Spanish dish I had on the trip. These are just potatoes that are sliced and fried then topped with a ketchup like sauce, which here was actually hot, and some mayo or something to the likes. Good beer food.

Fried Rabbit Ribs - Little riblets from the rabbit. Really enjoyed these small bites.

Lamb Skewer - Perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. Best piece of lamb I've had in a while.

Chicken Sandwich - Tasty Snacks. There were quite a few of us eating and some items they were out of so we basically ordered what they had.

Steak Sandwich - Small slider sized sandwich with some rare meat in bwteetn a house cooked bun. Fantastic meal.

Drinks and Entertainment 

Barcelona is the heart of Europe's party scene. For every tourist that comes thru to see the works of Gaudi and others there's another one who comes for fun. If you're offended by marijuana, stay away, every turn you make you'll smell it whether its early in the day or the middle of the night. There's clubs around town where can buy membership and with it some greenery. The nightlife is second to none on this continent and it's really easy to have fun. Here's a few spots we got down at.

Pink Panther - No name for this place but they created the famous pink panther drink that many other spots around town have tried to re-create. We're not exactly sure what this alcohol based drink is made of but it tasted similar to horchata with a hint of booze in the back. Good stuff.

La Champagneria - One of the craziest and constantly busy bars in Barca. They sell $2 bottles of champagne and cheap sandwiches to enjoy them with. The Rose seemed to be the most popular 

Ideal Cocktail Bar - One of the city's oldest cocktail lounges the inside of this place was classic.

If you're big into hemp and or sex, they have museums dedicated to both.

Sights from around town


International Eats

As mentioned in the opening paragraph Barcelona is an international city with people living there representing countries from all over the globe. As is the case with anywhere when people move, the food comes with them. I snacked on many non-Spanish snacks as there's as many of them as there are Spanish spots.

Bouzu Japanese Tapas - This place sounded better than it turned out to be. The yaki soba plate was enjoyed but a plate of Japanese fried chicken was almost inedible.

Pasta Bar - Fresh made pasta with your choice of ingredients for a very fair price. Nice lunch when most of the other spots were closed.

Shawarma, Kebap etc is available all the time almost everywhere you look. The Turkish spots tend to be the best.

Dionisos (The Quick Greek) - Very good fresh made gyros. Another nice snack while most spots were on Siesta.

Negro Carbon - Argentinian Steak and Hamburger House that one of my friends enjoys. Burger was made good and actually made with all beef, not always common in these parts but the chorizo was the better of the two.

Restaurant Sagàs Pagesos, Cuiners & Co - "The restaurant boasts an attractive interior design and offers a menu based on sandwiches and salads that combine the Catalan and international cuisines. The point that makes the difference is the use of local and artisan produce. The ideologue of the culinary concept and the menu is the chef Oriol Rovira, from the Els Casals restaurant in Sagàs." Pork belly buns were very tasty.

Mexcla - A hip Mexican restaurant in the Gracia 'hood. Their cochinita pibil tacos were pretty damn good. The tortillas were just ok but everything else was on point. Good tequila drinks too.

La Taguara - I stopped in here for a Venezuelan Arape with shredded beef, fried sweet plantain, refried black beans and salty cheese. I wish we had more of these around the states, or at least the Chicago area.

Some More Sights from Around Town 


Quimet & Quimet

Local and Tourist loved stop

This fourth generation family run favorite was one of the more entertaining stops on the trip. The place has a great vibe as people pack it out into the streets each and every night its open. Most everything is made from canned seafood and other preserved items. Served in little sandwich form they're signature offering is one with cured salmon, creme fraiche and a truffle honey, these were divine. Everything we ate was wonderful I just cant remember all of it as I was too busy inhaling plate after plate.

Making art out of canned seafood since 1914

Murals on Stores

I enjoyed snapping photos of these when I had the chance

La Monroe 

Cheap new hip spot with some excellent pimenton de padron peppers

La Boqueria

Barcelona's Most Visited Building

Almost no tourist does Barcelona without a stop at the world famous La Boqueria. The first mention of the Boqueria market in Barcelona dates back to 1217. The current construction dates back to 1917. It's grown a little bit since then and you can now find just about anything you need. Stalls selling raw meat, fresh seafood, spices and everything else you  need to cook join stalls selling made made to order food. The prices are more tourist focused but you cant visit and not at least stop in. The colors and smells and just sheer size of the place make it great.

Meat and Seafood Galore

20 Kinds of Codfish for sale 

El Quim de la Boqueria

Premier dining destination inside the market

I went to the market early morning and enjoyed a breakfast at the famous El Quim which was easily the most popular place to eat inside of there. After taking the solo seat I glanced over the menu and saw they're famous for their baby squid and eggs breakfast amongst other plates and that sounded great so I was all over it. Easy to see why Chef Quim has been a mainstay at the market since 1987. I should point out that nothing is cheap as far as food goes inside the market. I also tried a taco from another stall made with Spanish chorizo instead of Mexican and it worked out surprisingly great with the refried beans spread onto the tortilla.

Baby Squid and Eggs for Breakfast at the Market

Beautiful Sights abound

Park Guell

Another one of the popular tourist stops well worth a look


Surprisingly we had the best rice dish of the trip at this place in the Gothic neighborhood that just so happened to be open during the siesta most of Spain takes. This Spanish Northern Rice dish featured blood sausage, chickpeas and tomatoes and really hit the spot.

Taller De Tapas

There's a couple locations of this Argentinian based tapas bar in town. We stopped into the one near us in Gothic one night as most other places were closing for the evening. Good fresh seafood, no complaints whatsoever.

Tapas 24

One of the hottest stops in the city 

We stopped into Tapas 24 for lunch the last day in town and had a little line to wait in before we were seated. We ended up at the bar right next to the kitchen which was visible thru a window. This is an upscale tapas bar from a famous chef that we both thought was pretty damn good. Starting off with an order of the fried calamari was good although a little overpriced compared to some other spots we had it at on this trip. Next up was the chefs take on the bikini sandwich made with jamon, truffles and cheese. A stepped up version of a common ham and cheese sandwich popular amongst Catalonians. Very good. As was the McFoie Burger which was perfectly rare red meat paired with a foie gras spread. This was really rich and well worth the calories consumed. I could return just for a couple of them and be happy. We also tried the cochinita pibil tacos off the Tapas del Dia and they were pretty wonderful actually. The tortilla was a little off but the meat was as good a recipe as any I've had stateside.

Bikini Sandwich

McFoie Burger

Cochinita Pibil Tacos

Cerveceria el Vaso de Oro

Wonderful house brewed beer and some good deep fried sausage wrapped in bacon to go with it

After a couple weeks of very little red meat consumption me and my buddies went over to this place known for their house brewed beer and steak topped with foie gras plate. We started with some brews and a simple tapas of sausage wrapped with bacon before the juicy steak topped with foie gras came out. No frills but very satisfying as it took care of my craves for barely cooked beef. Beer was nice too.

Steak and Foie Gras

Ciudad Condal

Another favorite of both locals and tourists who do their work

We went to Ciudad Condal on the last night in town and put down as much as the three of us there could handle. Seeing as how this was one of my friends favorite stops we put the ordering in his hands after waiting a good 20 minutes for a space at the bar. All the guys that work here are Filipino but the menu is typical Barcelona style tapas. I enjoyed all of it to the point where I'd be happy to go back. The ordering was perfect as we had a little bit of everything. Standouts were the pressed croissant with jamon, the steak on bread with a padron pepper on top, pork tenderloin sandwich with extra potent onions as well as the seasonal mushroom dish that we should of ordered another plate of. Although that wasn't necessary after downing their awesome eggplant with roasted red peppers and cheese dish which we basically made dessert. 

Sandwich with Jamon and Truffle Oil

Skewed Shrimp

Sirloin Steak Tapas

Chorizo and Cheese Sandwiches

Cheese? on Bread

Seasonal Mushrooms sauteed with Jamon

Big Ass Razor Clams

Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches

Roasted Red Peppers with Eggplant and Goat Cheese

That's it for this trip! We hope you enjoyed the entire 'Spain in June' series this month. see ya next time!

Note: I'm choosing not to include addresses because they're easy enough to find online. However if you're headed this way, feel free to email me and I'll forward my list of all the spots I deemed worthy of a stop, many of which I never made it too. That said Spain as a whole was worthy of a second visit so I'll have another crack at them someday soon. See ya next time @chibbqking.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails