June 1, 2013

Barcelona Eats

by Sun

Last week Jo shared with us her favorite Singapore places, this week it's time for another review of one of our favorite cities: Barcelona!

Last October Anja and I met there for a couple of days and we had some nice eating experiences. We love eating Tapas (small dishes on a plate) and Pinchos (or Pintxos, bite size food on a stick). You can see these tapas and pincho places all over old town and around Barcelona. Tapa style eating is my favorite way of eating! It's all about sharing and tasting many different dishes and it generates plenty of chatter about each dish. "What is that? What is this? This is good! This is not so good, etc..." Its fun and more satisfying than eating one whole dish all by myself and you get to explore the menu all in one sitting.




Here are a few places we revisited and still like, and a couple of new findings in BCN old town:

Cal Pep: Is a tiny tapas place behind the main street in the El Born area where the Picasso museum is. I was able to eat there two years ago and wanted to go back but every time I tried, the place was either closed or the waiting line was just too long. I hope you have better luck than me if you are going there. During the entire month of August, most of the restaurants are closed in Barcelona. I would make sure to call before going and if they don't answer the phone (most times you don't even get a recorded message), that means they are closed. I made a mistake a couple of times thinking that maybe they were too busy to answer the phone and went anyway, just to find the door closed for a month long vacation. Once you're in you'll get to eat all the traditional tapas, especially seafood tapas, but here they just taste better than other tapa places.


Bar Lobo: When we travel, we like to experience authentic food, people, and places, but I also enjoy eating in modern settings in an old city, like Bar Lobo right off the Rambla. It's pleasant to sit both the indoor or outdoor sittings at Bar Lobo. I passed by this place many times before but didn't think about eating here until a friend of ours took us there. Because of their white interior and modern atmosphere, I thought they served non-spanish food but I was wrong. They offered traditional and house invented tapas and most of them were delicious!





Cafe Caelum is located in one of the narrow alleys off the LaSeu Cathedral in the center of the Gothic Quarter. I want you to stop by there not just for the good coffee and pastries but also to experience the underground room at the cafe. You can't even see the stairs that lead to downstairs when you enter the cafe, which are hidden at the side of the room. Once you go down, you will be sitting in a spacious room with exposed brick walls and ceiling that make you feel that you have come a bit closer to the history of the building.

Dos Palillos (Two Toothpicks) in Barcelona and Berlin:
It was pouring rain the evening we went to Dos Pallios. I wasn't aware of this, but a reservation is a must here. Despite this, we got lucky because we were one of the first people waiting for the place to open and were able to sit at the dining bar just outside the main dinning room which has an intimate setting that I liked. After several days of eating lots of Spanish tapas, we were glad to find this place, which was recommended by our Barcelona friends who now live in Chicago. The place is owned by Albert Raurich who was the chef de cuisine at El Bulli (closed since August of 2011) known as the world's most influential restaurant.

Dos Palillos has a tasting menu comprised of Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish fusion dishes. The name - toothpicks for picking the pinchos/tapas and chopsticks for eating Asian food - is fun and intriguing which reflects the food they serve and the tone of the restaurant.

I enjoyed many of the dishes. They had a few unique ones, and there were even several traditional Chinese and Japanese dishes on the menu without any attempt to modify it's taste like chicken yakitori or Chinese soup dumplings, which was a bit surprising to me, even tho they also tasted very good. To some degree, I feel like we missed out on the real special dishes by sitting at the bar and not in the main room.

This is one of those places some people love and some don't, depending on how much you want to spend on dinner and what kind of food you are used to. For us, I would say it was worth the experience and rainy evening excursion!






Big Fish is known for its seafood, as the name suggests, and serves sushi. It's located behind the Mercat del Born (Born Market) - an old market currently being converted into a cultural center. Black flooring and white walls create sharp contrast in colors but somehow also feels warm and cozy with gentle chandelier lights, old posters, artifacts on the walls, and aged leather sofas. Food is not 'WOW' but the restaurant is worth being reviewed. If you are looking for a romantic place in old town Barcelona, this is a good place to start an evening!

Happy Eating in Barcelona!

P.S. We also found our favorite hotel in Barcelona during this visit Mercer Hotel. It's hidden on a narrow alley street in the center of the busy old town area. They just opened so it's very new and has decor I like, simple, open, and uncluttered. A great renovation of another ancient Barcelona building.


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