As usual, I was excited about the food options available to us while in Spain. Tapas! Paella! Wine!
And once again, with the exception of the wine, my expectations exceeded the reality. Not to say the food wasn’t good – it was! We just had few outstanding meals. I don’t know if my taste buds just haven’t been receptive, or if I’ve become a serious food snob, but I’ve been really hard to please lately.
The worst meal we had, by far was at Montserrat. We ate at one of the cafeterias there, and it was…really not very good. If you go to Montserrat, either bring a picnic, or pick up some food from the vendors that line the road leading to the monestary. We really should have taken our guides advice on that! Once you get there, you’ll pass 7-10 stalls that stock cheeses, jams, and some other food items. We ended up buying a Manchego cheese and a Rosemary goat cheese, both of which were wonderful. You can get samples, and decide what you like best. And like I said, definitely consider buying some things here and having them for lunch.
We had a lot of mediocre meals, mostly at restaurants along Passeig de Gracia. Our fault for simply sitting when we were hungry, rather than look for better options off the main drag – don’t make our mistake!
We did have some good meals, though:
La Pepita – this is a little (emphasis on little) tapas place just on the edge of the Gracia district. It got wonderful reviews on TripAdvisor, and we kept trying to go, but every time we went it was jam packed with people and there was a long wait. I’m not sure if they take reservations – worth a try, though. If they don’t, try going at an off-time. We finally managed to get in on one of our last days in town, and the tapas, wine, and service was wonderful.
Famen – Oh, my. This counts (still, five months later) as the last meal I ate that blew me away. We arrived at the restaurant early, Spain time – about 8:15pm. We were the only ones in the restaurant for most of the meal. I had narrowed my menu choices down to two, and asked our lovely waitress which would be better. She recommended the ox with calvados apples. When it came out, it was stacked – the ox, topped with the apples, topped with…something, I wasn’t sure what. I took a small bite of the unknown substance to figure out what it was – and went to heaven. It sounds disgusting, I know, but it was pure, crisped fat. I’m talking eyes rolling back in my head, moaning, good. A bit of the fat, a bit of the apples, and a bit of the ox, eaten in one bite…ooooohhhhhhhh.
9 Reinas – Stephen is a steak guy, but Finnish beef is nothing to write home about. So when I saw there was an Argentian Beef restaurant in Barcelona, I made reservations (you need them) as a special treat for my husband. Let’s be clear, this is not the place to go for local flavor – this is a white tablecloth steak restaurant, with prices to match. We ordered two different cuts, and Stephen’s was far superior (and more expensive) than mine. It was not Ruth’s Chris, but it was a nice steak for my poor steak-starved husband.
Toyo – If Stephen is a “loves steak can’t get good steak in Finland” kind of guy, I’m a “loves sushi can’t get good sushi in Finland” kind of girl. While I can get it in Finland, I have to drive an hour or more to get it, so it doesn’t happen very often. When we travel, though, I hunt down sushi places. On one of our last days in Barcelona, I was looking for a sushi restaurant – but the first two we went to were closed (I think it was a Sunday). Toyo, however, was open, so we chanced it. Turns out, this place has a sushi buffet type set up, one with the little boats or a train going around in a circle. We grabbed a couple of empty seats and started grabbing dishes as they came around. It was a good chance to get a lot of variety for a very low price, and the sushi was great. Aaaaannnddd…this was the last time I had sushi, as I soon found out I was pregnant… (I think they have a full Japanese – aka cooked – menu, but you might want to check.)
Thai Gracia – yet another night of wandering around, looking for something open without too much of a wait, and just saying “Screw it, let’s go here.” Thai food in Barcelona – why not? While I can’t remember what I had, I can tell you it was wonderful thai food, if you’re in the mood for it. And since it’s another thing we can’t get around these parts, it was good. One memorable part of the evening – Stephen shoving a carrot into his mouth, then discovering it wasn’t a carrot but a thai pepper. He was hurting!
La Gran Cantonada – I mentioned this place in my “Day Trip” write up – this restaurant is in Casteldefels, about a 15 minute train ride from Barcelona. We had a pitcher of sangria and split an order of Fideueada before heading to the beach. Good food, good wine, lovely service.
If you can, I highly recommend stopping at a few of the small shops and grabbing dinner like the locals. Some cheese, cured meat, bread, and wine – best dinner ever.
See more of our Barcelona trip: