Restaurants and Tapas-Bars in Barcelona
Barcelona is located right at the sea. Logically, fish is the main food. There are all variants of fish, either in cheap restaurants as also in gourmet restaurants. Meat is rather less frequently; I did not get really good meat anywhere, also not by paying 20 € for one steak. Those who stay longer time in Barcelona will probably not want to have fish every day. At the beginning, it was quite difficult for me to find a good no-fish restaurant. But thanks to some tips from the local people, I could find some good Italian restaurants.
Of course there is also Mc. Donald's and Burgerking at each corner in Barcelona. Those who only stay a couple of days in Barcelona should keep away from these fastfood restaurants, as the Catalan cuisine is much too good to spend one's precious evenings with eating hamburgers. In fact, the Catalan cuisine is one of the best of all Spain. But those who spend a couple of weeks in Barcelona will have to spend one or two evenings
in a fastfood restaurant, as the prices for food and drinks are extremely high and do have an important effect on the holiday budget. A meal for two persons including salad, wine and a coffe at the end cost approximately 50 €. But this does not apply for a posh restaurant, but just for having a good meal.
Where does one actually go for dinner? Most of the tourists live close to the Rambla; there are also numerous restaurants, partly also very good ones! A big area to go out at night in the city is the Port Olímpic; here, also a lot of local people come. One restaurant is beside the next one. Unfortunately, it is not possible to walk calmly through the harbour streets, as there is a shill waiting in front of every restaurant. There are numerous fish restaurants of the upper class in La Barceloneta; at the beach promenade in north eastern direction there are several low priced restaurants, in which ine can dine in a good atmosphere.
In Barcelona there a very good locals in the touristic centers; While in the touristic areas of other places the touristic dosshouses dominate, it is not the case in Barcelona. If one has a meal in a typical touristic local, one has the advantage that for Spanish standards, one can have a meal at a very early time of the day without being alone. In Barcelona, the time for lunch starts at 2.00 p.m.; the time for dinner is respectively later, from 9.00 p.m.. If one goes to a typical restaurant of local people at for example 8.00 p.m., it is very probable that one is the only guest for dinner there.
In the following I describe numerous restaurants in which I had at least once a meal. Thereby, I do not only focus on giving recommendations but do also describe those restaurants for which I explicity want to warn the people to go there; Please consider that these are my personal experiences. Some restaurants already disappeared long ago, some good restaurants probably never will...
It is easy to oversee, this little old-established local at the Rambla, right beside the Liceu-Theatre. Here, mainly tourists do eat. The advantage of that is that one is not alone if he already wants to dine at 7.00 or 8 p.m.But those who think that the tourists are cheaply fobbed off, are wrong. A very fresh salad with some fine asparagus as a starter made the palate expect something greater, and it should not be disappointed. Either a tender fish filet as also a pullet filled with mushrooms and vegetables were excellent.
Those who arrive in time will get a seat at the upper floor. Here, it is indeed more narrow, but therefore it is very cozy. Not infrequently, a conversation comes about among the guests. The waiters were very friendly and active; And the whole meal was, considering the standard of Barcelona, at a very low price. What more do you want? Thus, the Egipte is a clear recommendation, as is is also so conveniently located right at the Rambla.
For those who want to have a look into the restaurant or into the menue card, I recommend to visit the webside of the restaurant.
My absolutely favourite restaurant in Barcelona is the Specchio Magico. I think I never had so good Italian food in my life s I did in this small trattoria. The restaurant is located in the Eixample, close to the subway station Diagonal. From there, one has to walk for 5-10 minutes on the Paseo de Gràcia to northern direction up to a little side street named Luis Antúnez. Here, the small Italian restaurant is located. From the outside it is not recognizable what is inside this small restaurant; No tourist gets lost here, only connoisseurs come here that reserved previously a table. But during the week, one also gets a table without a previous reservation, provided one arrived punctually at the opening time at 09:00 a.m.
There are not many tables in the Specchio Magico, but therefore, one is attended with Italian amicability. One somehow feels like being home in this cozy restaurant; There are "only" 20 different pasta dishes to eat, salads and a few meat dishes. Once sitting at the table, one gets immediately some bread, Italian salami and stuffed olives for the first satisfaction of the hunger. As starter, we had a ruccola salad that was so hearty and manifold spiced that one immediately knew that this was going to be a good evening. Then the pasta - unbelievably nice garnished, unbelievably tasty and unbelievably satiable. The interesting thing of this restaurant is that one can watch the cooks during the work.
As a dessert, of course a tiramisu and a coffee in order to complete this excellent meal. And each guest gets a glass of italian grappa filled to the rim together with the bill, so that this dinner really becomes an unforgettable experience. Of course, such a gourmet dinner has to be paid respectively: 65 € for wine, water, bread, salad, pasta, tiramisu and coffee. This is extremely high, but after such a meal one does not regret a cent. Today, I cannot imagine visiting Barcelona without dining at least once in the Specchio Magico.
The Can Culleretes that is located in the oldtown is the oldest restaurant of Barcelona and the second oldest restaurant of Spain; it was opened in the year 1786. Is this good or bad? From outside, the old building (Street: Quintana 5, between Rambla and Plaša Sant Jaume) with the restaurant does not look very inviting. But an American guy gave me the tip to have in any case a paella in the Culleretes, and the tip was good.
The biggest paella that I had during my whole visit in Barcelona cost 24 € for two persons. As an expert eater, when I cannot finish my plate, then the quantity is really huge. But the food was not only good due to the quantity but also due to the quality. And the price? Unbelievably cheap. The final coffee cost only 1,30 € (including a shot of whiskey); I only know such coffee prices from the rural areas of Spain. What is noticeable is that the bread was in the Culleretes for free - it was the only time during the two weeks in Barcelona.
The restaurant is huge; there are several halls where one can dine. In the interior, one notices by the cozy accommodation that the restaurant must be very old. In the Can Culleretes not only tourists dine, as in numerous tables Spanish is spoken. The restaurant does not open before 09.00 a.m.; but then it gets rapidly crowded and the business starts. Thus, a dinner in the Can Culleretes is a clear recommendation.
My favourite restaurant in the Port Olímpic is the La Fitora. It belongs to the better restaurants at the olympic harbour of Barcelona. This is already noticeable by the table sets and the outfit of the waiters. The speciality of the restaurants are fish dishes and paellas. Once I had a paella and a fideuada. It was excellent. The fact that there is excellent food in this restaurant is already noticeable by having a seat: the waiter brings some freshly baked rolls with olives and warm cheese balls. These cheese balls are reason enough to dine there regulary.
The restaurant has either an area right at the harbour as also one above on the mole. The best places are of course above, right at the edge of the terrace, as from there, there is a nice view downwards and one can watch the people passing by while eating. But the view from above to the harbour and the boardwalk is much more nicer. If the weather is warm, eating there above is a real romantic experience.
I can plenary recommend the restaurant La Fitora at the Port Olímpic, either because of the good service as also because of the good food and the nice views from the terrace. The price for a complete dinner including starter, wine, water, dessert and coffee: approximately 50 €.
La Oca Mar
Do you want to dine right at the sea or even almost in the sea? Than I recommend you the restaurant La Oca Mar at the Platja Nova Mar Bella. From the Port Olímpic, one walks for approximately half an hour alongside the beaches of Barcelona, before one finds the chic restaurant on a little mole. In La Oca Mar, there is mainly fish and paellas offered. There is also some expensive meat but it is not recommendable, therefore, the fish is all the more.
In the La Oca Mar, one sits comfortably and has a nice panorama view. Outside, one nearly sits in the sea and looks from the sea to the land. One sees the waves underneath sughing to the shore and the people having a walk on the promenade - a nice atmosphere. The local people appreciate this restaurant because there are enough parking places in front of it. Every now and then, the restaurant closes for an evening, because a wedding or another celebration takes place there.
How does the food taste? The meat was not good, the fish all the more. Unfortunately, there were only few side dishes for the fish, so that in principle it was a pure fish meal. The service is very good; the wine glasses are refilled at the table. Without doubt, there are better restaurants in Barcelona; but the atmosphere on the sea is unique. The walk alongside the beach after the meal is a part of the dinner.
There was a webside of this restaurant but it does not exist any more. It is also possible that this restaurant also does not exist any more.
La Barca del Salamanca
A restaurant that I first did not want to visit at all resulted to be a big hit: the La Barca del Salamanca at the Port Olímpic. Three waiters were courting the favour of the passing guests; A menue card in all imaginable languages, then some musicians entertaining the guests, a choice of dishes presented on a table in front of the restaurant - this must be a tourist dosshouse and tourist-rip-off; Each evening, the restaurant is full, also if in the neighboured restaurants there are only few guests.
It is unbelievable, but the food in the restaurant was very good. The service was good, the food was very tasteful, the atmosphere was good and above all: for the standard of Barcelona, the food was very cheap. 36 € for a main course, wine, water and coffee is really few for the Catalan big city. In this price, also the local tomato bread as a start and a small piece of cake at the end is included. More information about this surprising restaurant is available on its webside.
Pizzeria La Poma
When I went for the first time to the Pizzeria La Poma, this was only an emergency solution, because I could not get a seat in the restaurant where I actually wanted to go to this evening. Thus, we went to the next pizzeria at the Rambla only to have something to eat. I could not guess at all that this pizzeria resulted to be an absolute jackpot, as from outside, the pizzeria rather looks like a quick restaurant. But by getting to the first floor of the restaurant one suddenly feels really well. In one corner, pizza is baked, at the other, some meat is roasted; one can really look the cooks over the shoulder.
We were very lucky to get a seat right at the window. By this way, we could watch thousands of tourists passing by from above. The pizzeria La Poma is located right at the Rambla, close to the Plaša de Catalunya. Now the food: they were the best pizzas we ever had in Barcelona. With them, we had a very good and low-priced house red. Also the salad that we got as a starter was fresh and abundant.
The restaurant is huge, it has enough space for an incredible amount of people. I really enjoyed the fact that the waiters were not in a hectic rush and let us sit at our attractive place at the window as long as we wanted. Thus, we enjoyed a good dessert and two coffees by having a fascinating view to the life at the Rambla.
For 35 € we got a full dinner for two persons that was excellent and of course was a real spectacle due to our seats at the window. Thus, to those who want to have a good pizza for a low price in Barcelona, I doubtless recommend the Pizzeria La Poma at the Rambla.
Now it is getting mexican. Each visitor of Barcelona should at least once have a tapas meal, and I do not mean a mixed salad or a little plate of calamari but real little tapas-appetizers. And for this purpose, I found the Txapela at the Passeig de Gràcia to be the best one. What is going on there? Either one sits at the bar or at a table and eats until being saciated.
In the Txapela, there are several different and small appetizers, for example a piece of fish on a small slice of baguette. Depending on the topping, such a small slice of baguette costs between 1 € and 3 €. One better orders first 3 pieces and if not satisfied yet, two further ones and then maybe two again...
These little canapés are unbelievably tasty and delicious; it is hard to stop eating them once eaten to one's fill. Of course, these small canapés are not sufficient as a real dinner, but for a little lunch snack in between there is nothing better and tastier.
On the large Via Laietana, a few hundred metres at the north of the subway station Jaume I, there is the Pizzeria Montello. In a small restaurant, one gets low-priced pizzas of all kinds. The prices are very low, so that there is not too much to expect. The low prices are probably achieved also because the waiters are mainly minor immigrants.
The Pizzeria Montello is, equally to its sister restaurants, not a place for a gourmet meal but appropriate to those poeple who want to have a quick dinner without having to go to a typical fastfood restaurant. Finally, there is so much to see in Barcelona that not everybody has the time to spend the whole evening in a restaurant.
Les 15 Nits
Now it gets unpleasant, as now we get into a real tourist-dosshouse. The restaurant Les 15 Nits (15 nights) is located at the Plaša Reial. It opens at 08:30 p.m.; but one hour before, there is already a queue in front of the entrance of the restaurant. Then, there must be something that is good or special, doesn't it?
What is so special in this restaurant? It is surely not the good situation at the Plaša Reial, where there is a lot of party at nights. It is rather due to the very low prices that one pays in this restaurant for a dinner. Here, there is a cantine business. The waiter does not pick up each guest at the queue, but complete groups are guided to their seats at once. Then, the food is distributed like in a day trip.
We had some pasta that was quite ok. But around our table, there was one complaint after the next because of the fish dishes. In this restaurant, one gets a menue card in English language without having said a word. The male and female waiters are anything but not Spanish. The service is bad, things like coffee are simply forgotten.
Additionally, my credit card was duplicated in this restaurant, that means, when I was long ago back home, suddenly, some big shoppings were done in Barcelona with my name. Additionally, my credit card company confirmed that they already had at least 10 cases of credit card fraud in this restaurant. Is there anything positive this restaurant does for me at all? Yes, the food has indeed a cantine level, but therefore, the prices are respectively low. But in any case, I cannot recommend this restaurant.
Isn't it a sin to have chinese food in Barcelona? Those who spend a longer period of time in the Catalan capital may not want to have fish every evening; then, one feels like having something completely different. And what could provide more variety as the Far Eastern food?
At the Puerto Olimpico, there is the Chinese restaurant Pato Pekin that stands on a small gallery. By sitting right at the edge of the gallery, one has a nice view to the promenade and can watch the people passing by. But the nice view does not compensate the disastrously bad food and the miserable service in this restaurant.
Until then I did not know that it is possible to prepare chinese food without using any spices; this is the way the food tasted. Moreover, I also did not know that there is chinese food without any rice. The rice had to be ordered separately, as one could possibly want to eat some pieces of meat without anything else... I could even not finish my starter; the plate was simply pulled away as the main course was already done. It was a real catastrophy, I seldom had such bad food, thus be careful with this Chinese!
If I had not visited the restaurant El Merendero that looks very good from the outside,today I would generaly say that at the Port Olímpic, there is very good food everywhere, as until then, I only had good experiences in different restaurants of the olympic harbour. Unfortunately, I had then to experience this absolute flop in the restaurant El Merendero.
To start with, we got two hard rolls that crumbled by biting into them. While the salad we got as a starter was fresh and abundant, afterwards, one flop after the next followed. I paid 15 € for a piece of meat that in principle only consisted on grease, so that effectively, maybe three bites consisted on real meat. Also the canneloni were disgusting; the little pasta rolls were so soaked in fat as they fell into the deep fat fryer by mistake.
I can only warn all visitors of Barcelona to visit this restaurant. This place is also not frequented by spaniards but from lured tourists. I put my foot in it; I hope that this disaster will not happen to the readers of this page.
Those who spend a longer time period in Barcelona will continuously come across to the name Moncho's. it is a restaurant chain that has some locals at many points of the city. Thereby, it can be a real restaurant but also only a tapas-bar.
I never dined in a Moncho's restaurant but I had tapas several times there. I had specially good experiences at the Moncho's in Maremagnum. There, there were low-priced and good tapas and a quick service. Such a tapas restaurant is simply good if one is on the way during the whole day and needs in between to have a rest for the legs and some energy for the body.
Hard Rock Café
Those who spend only a few days in Barcelona will surely not spend their evenings in an American restaurant, as in Barcelona there are much too good local restaurants. But those who stay for one or several weeks in the big city, after having fish for some days, will long for a real hearty burger. And if it should not be simply at Burger King or Mc. Donald's, there is still the Hard Rock Café, that is well worth visiting in every city.
I do not need to write much about the food of the Hard Rock Café; as it is the same in each country of the world. I also do not need to write anything about the interior of the restaurant; the film requisites, busts and pictures as also the obligatory oldtimer hanging in the centre of the restaurant characterize a Hard Rock Café.
It is not a matter of course to get immediately a seat at the Hard Rock Café. Specially in the week-ends, one has possibly to wait at least one hour before a table is available. Therefore, the food is very good, low-priced and including an unlimited refill service for the non-alcoholic drinks. Viva America!
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz