barcelona is for food lovers

4

Yang & Brian in Barcelona{The view from Gaudi’s Park Güell}

Fantastic company aside (thank you Erin & Joe), Barcelona’s food was by far the best part of our stay there. Prior to our trip, I knew very little about Spanish cuisine, and could count the number of times I’d had tapas on one hand. Since our mini vacation, I now find myself craving their simple, low-key style of eating on a pretty constant basis. Take me back please! 

And even if you can’t, do try to at least take yourself, and give one of the many restaurants that we went to a try. I’m no Barcelona expert, since we were only there a few days, but I have it on pretty good authority that the restaurants I’ve come to love are some of the city’s best. Here’s a quick, er, maybe not so quick, recap. 

Barcelona First Night
{Barcelona palm trees & dessert tapas at Espai Sucre}

For our first meal, Erin and Joe took us to Mosquito, their favorite restaurant just a stone’s throw away from their apartment in El Born, one of the city’s oldest and prettiest neighborhoods.

Mosquito serves Asian dim-sum style tapas, something Erin wasn’t sure I’d be into, because it might seem counterintuitive for a Chinese person to seek out such a meal in Spain of all places, but I was very much behind it. I’m always up for dim sum and there was something incredibly comforting about sharing a meal of familiar foods in a new, unfamiliar city. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures to show, because the place was quite dark and I was a little too preoccupied with eating, but trust me when I say the food was fantastic and very much up to my tough Chinese standards. The pork clouds were heavenly. 

If you ever make your way over there, which you should, call ahead and make a reservation. Small and sparse seating are among Mosquito’s many charms.

After we let our dinner digest just a little, we made the short walk over to Espai Sucre, a restaurant strictly devoted to wine and dessert tapas, emphasis on strict. Brian took to calling the place a dessert speakeasy because they keep the front door locked and you have to ring a doorbell and announce your reservation time before they’ll let you in. It all seemed a little excessive at the time, and then, they served us some of the best, most inventive desserts I’ve ever had, and suddenly, the locks on the door made perfect sense.

Less highfalutin were the prices. For €9,90 (around $14), you get your pick of not one, but three dessert tapas from a menu of 14. Keeping with the air of mystery, the menu lists only each dessert’s 3 primary ingredients. 

Park Guell
{Gaudi’s Park Güell}

The next day, we took to Park Güell to walk off some of the calories from the night before. There was rain in the forecast, but we were mostly spared and got to enjoy the park in beautiful, unseasonably warm weather. Gaudi would have been proud. 

Beautiful Park Guell
{Brian with our hosts Erin & Joe}

On the Barcelona must-do list, Park Güell offers some really great vistas of the city. We never made it to Monjuïc, another popular vantage point and must-see according to many, but Park Güell was more than enough for us. 

Salamanca
{The Barceloneta Beach and a waterfront lunch at Salamanca}

Turns out, looking at funky architecture can really get one’s appetite going. So, after the park, Erin took us to Salamanca in the Barceloneta beach neighborhood to partake in her “Seafood Sunday” ritual with friends. 

Paella & Fidua{Seafood Paella and Fideua}

Erin did the ordering as she so kindly did for us everywhere we went, and has done it enough times that she knew that one order each of the “2-person” paella and fideua (like paella, but made with short noodles instead of rice) would be more than enough for the seven of us plus baby. The food and company were fantastic and everything that one could hope for along the picture-perfect Spanish Mediterranean coast. 

Salamanca Fidua, Appetizers and Cake{Fideua, dessert and a plate of fried goodness}

There’s a closeup shot of the fideua for you. 

For dessert, our server brought us a few plates of what I can only describe as delicious almond cake squares. We never figured out what they were called, but after checking their english menu online, I’m gonna guess they were pieces of “Musician – Santiago Cake with Nuts.” Whatever it was, I must recreate it.  

Girona Daytrip{Glimpses of Girona}

The next morning, we got up bright and early to take the train north to Girona, about an hour and a half away.

Remember how I said we skipped Montjuïc (Jewish Mountain)? Well, we decided to do it one better and visit a town rich in Medieval Jewish history. That’s what brought us to Girona. 

Girona Burger
{Historic Girona and a big juicy burger from R27 Burger Bar}

While there, we took in the Museum of Jewish History (of obvious interest to Brian) and stopped for burgers and fries at R27 Burger Bar

For you history buffs – Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492. What else happened that year? 

Brian says it’s no coincidence. 

Rambla & Churro

After lunch, we took the train back to Barcelona and walked around the Rambla de Catalunya, Barcelona’s equivalent to 5th Avenue or the Champs-Élysées. While there, we took in some more Gaudi sightings, did plenty of people watching and stopped for tea, churros and chocolate, or xocolata as they like to spell it in Catalan. 

A word to the wise: melted chocolate mixed in mint tea, not as great a combination as one would think. In fact, it was pretty awful. 

Canete
{Cañete Barra y Mantel}

Hands down the best meal we had was at Cañete in the Gothic Quarter. It’s a classic tapas bar and restaurant that’s a little on the pricier side, but absolutely worth it. 

Erin summed up the meal perfectly on her blog, “It was one of those lively 2+ hour meals where the plates kept coming, the red wine kept flowing, and the conversation and laughter was non stop. It’s those types of nights here that are my absolute favorite.”

Canete Feast
{Glorious food at Cañete} 

Our favorite dishes were the french fries with egg and chorizo and jamón croquettes. We loved them so much that we ordered a second round. 

Honorable mentions go to the burrata, steak with foie gras, chocolate mousse and the crema catalana, the Spanish version of crème brulée.

Canete Companions
{Cañete’s adorable tile and us with our adorable hosts}

It didn’t take long into our trip for me to figure out how much I liked Barcelona, but if I had to pick one moment that was the tipping point from like to love, Cañete would be it. 

Sagrada Familia
{Sagrada Familia}

For our final full day there, Brian and I went to the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s final and still unfinished work (expected year of completion: 2026, but who really knows). Erin’s smart and ordered our tickets online. The line to buy tickets there was insane even in the off-season, so do yourself a favor and get the tickets ahead of time. 

McDonald's

When traveling, I always make a point of stopping into a McDonald’s to see what regional offerings they might have. So after touring the Sagrada Familia, we went next door for a look-see and free Wifi.

I was a little disappointed to find that the Spanish McDonald’s menu didn’t boast McDelicacies on par with France’s McBaguette or Hawaii’s Taro Pies, but they did have what they call Patates Deluxe, delicious patatas bravas style fries, so that’s what we ordered. 

Boqueria
{Entrance to La Boqueria}

As far as dining experiences go, Cañete was first, and La Boqueria, the large public market in the Old City neighborhood, came in a close second. 

Boqueria Food
{Brian enjoying the first of many juices, hanging jamón and colorful gelato}

The colors, the sounds, the smells, even the stinky fishy ones, were a thrill to experience. Brian and I are real suckers for agua fresca, fresh juice type things and with La Boqueria we hit the mother load. Next time, we’ll make a point of stopping in every morning and afternoon and maybe then we can start to make a dent in all that the place has to offer. 

Boqueria Jamon
{Jamón iberico}

Sorry prosciutto and salami, but you are no longer my favorites. What I wouldn’t do for a fat leg of jamón iberico right now. 

Boqueria Lunch
{Lunch at Quiosc Modern in La Boqueria}

For lunch, Erin treated us to one of the popular seafood stands and we enjoyed another helping of croquettes, calamari, clams, pan con tomate, and dorado fish. 

The food was prepared right before our eyes, and the ladies made it look so easy that I’m tempted to start a Spanish food truck, and I’m only half kidding. 

Erin & Joe at El Xampanyet{Our handsome hosts Joe & Erin}

And for our final meal there (not counting the bowls of cereal and airport McDonald’s the next day), Erin and Joe took us to not one, but two of their favorite spots, because they’re awesome like that. 

Xampanyet

We started things off at El Xampanyet, a classic tapas and cava bar also in El Born. The place was packed with locals, but we were lucky enough to get a table soon after arriving. They’re big fans of Erin’s there, as are most places. 

For part 1, we enjoyed the now usual pan con tomate, padron peppers, and jamón, as well as manchego cheese, cheese stuffed sweet peppers, chickpeas and two varieties of chorizo. 

El Vaso del Oro

And for Part 2, we walked back over to the Barceloneta area for El Vaso de Oro. We’d heard great things about the sandwiches there, but no one would go into detail about what was in them. “You’ll see,” they would all say. Oh goodness were they right. 

Called the granjero, it’s made with lettuce, tomato, ham, mayo, and a fried egg (Brian’s favorite), wedged between two slices of what Erin called “what Wonder Bread wishes it could be.” Forget Wonder Bread, the granjero is what I want to be. It did not disappoint. 

Barcelona Arc de Triomf

That about covers all of the food highlights. By the looks of all those pictures you’d never guess we were only there for 3 full days, would you? That’s just how we do it. 

And we couldn’t have done any of it without Erin and Joe. They couldn’t have been better hosts and showed us the best time and eats in the city they’ve been able to call home these past 14 months. Thanks, guys!

There are a lot of unknowns in life, and you never know where it’s going to take you, but I can say with pretty great confidence that I’ll be back to Barcelona. It’s too great a place to go to just once.

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4 Responses to barcelona is for food lovers

  1. Teesa says:

    sooo beautiful. so glad you and brian had so much fun with your friends! and the food looks sooo good.

  2. Erin says:

    Love love love this recap and all the photos…you captured everything perfectly. Thanks for all your kind words! xo

  3. fran says:

    I’ve just booked my (second) trip to Barcelona, and found you while looking for restaurant recommendations – thank you for the amazing post!

    • Yang says:

      Hi Fran! I’m so happy and jealous to hear that you’ll be going to Barcelona again, and so very thrilled you found this post useful. Let me know where you end up going. I’d love to hear your thoughts and any other recommendations you might come back with. I hope to return one day as well. Have a great time!

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