April 1, 2019
I’m putting all the tasty memories into this post.. to remember my “birthday kidnap” to explore flavors of Barcelona. Quite a lot of my friends recently visited this “colorful” city and loved the few places I had suggested them. So I hope this blog post with tips about what to eat and drink gives you inspiration on how to enjoy your Barcelona trip!
It all started very innocently. My Birthday is coming!
One day before. Early morning. A brief message from my husband: „Pack your bag for 2-3 days, don’t take many things. I will pick you up at 1:00 pm.” It was not the first time he prepared some kind of travel surprise for me.. I started digging for more information, but the only things I got to know were: 1) it will be sunnier than in Prague and 2) I can’t take liquids over 100ml. OK, let it fly and let’s fly! Arriving at the airport, full of adrenaline and full of Prosecco bubbles already, I discovered the destination. Guessing and pointing finger at the departing screen.. I was right (I was longing and hoping so). We will arrive in Barcelona in a few hours.. Yuppie! What a Birthday adventure.
WHERE TO STAY?
.. Hostal Grau
My husband chose an absolutely perfect place to stay. It had a central location – just one street from Las Ramblas and very close to MACBA. Sustainable green eco hotel Hostal Grau. Except for the fact, that I really love the eco idea behind its concept, the hotel – and its simple room design – was beautiful. Ok, I have to say that I enjoyed also organic teas and coffee, homemade cakes and ecological wines served complimentary during the day:)
GoodToKnow: “We go slow to go far”. The concept of the hotel is aimed to provide rooms made of natural and organic materials. Energy efficient lighting, water recycling system and renewable energy are used. More about the sustainable green idea of Hostal Grau is nicely explained on their webpage.
ToSleep: Carrer de les Ramelleres, 27, 08001 Barcelona – Raval (District of Ciutat Vella). It’s a really central location very close to MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art) and just one street from Plaza de Catalunya and Las Ramblas.
And now let’s eat! We tried lots and here are my tops:
1. BEST BREAKFAST
.. Granja M. Viader
You have to sin since morning in Spain! Deep-fried dough pastry covered in a heavy layer of sugar, dipped into a cup of hot chocolate. Yes! And no guilty thoughts are allowed. Better order a double portion of Churros and let’s deep into the atmosphere of the authentic place. Granja M. Viader is awarded among Barcelona’s most emblematic establishments. I guess it’s still a hidden gem or we were just lucky. By the way, it is said, that at the same tables Picasso was drinking his Xocolata calenta. The waiter, an older man in a perfect suit and white gloves, was serving us and only a few other guests. Spanish locals were reading morning newspapers and sipping coffee, eating fresh cheese, drinking orange juice and pampering themselves with sugary churros. Viader family invented a popular chocolate drink “Cacaolat” in 1931, which became a big hit. They are also really proud of their Crema Catala still using the same recipe as 100 years ago. Another reason to sin in the morning :)
JustToKnow: Except for breakfast offer, you can just pop by and buy fresh dairy products or sandwiches at the counter.
GoodToKnow: „When Barcelona was a walled city, drinking milk wasn’t common. Without refrigeration, it didn’t transport well, so it was nearly impossible to find milk here. In the 19th century, many family businesses decided to overcome the transport problem by bringing cows into the city and keeping them in the back of their shops (indeed the word ” Granja” means farm). The Viader family was one such family, and, in 1870, they opened Granja M. Viader, specializing in dairy products.” Quoting from Barcelona Metropolitan.
Granja M. Viader: 6, Carrer d’en Xuclà, 4, 08001 Barcelona
2. BEST COFFEE
.. NØMAD Coffee
Hidden in a patio with the greenery overlooking from the outside.. Nomad Café with its specialty coffee is a perfect match. They have 3 location, check here. We visited its Coffe Lab.
.. Satan’s Coffee
Satan’s has 2 spots, I visited both. Eixample location was the first to open and is situated on the ground floor of boutique hotel Casa Bonay. We had a nice breakfast there too (Chia Pudding & Savory Croissant) and the space of the hotel is worthy to check.
.. La Roseta
Tip for a great coffee, while you are strolling or heading to Barceloneta beach. La Roseta is a nice small café with just a few seats (and no toilet:)) But what do you need more? Grab a chair, coffee and enjoy it outside with a fresh breeze. Coffee was really good and they offer something sweet to bite.
This was our every morning ritual – to grab a coffee at Dalston. “The smallest, independent specialty coffee shop in Barcelona“, with the excellent coffee varieties. Go for flat white, please!
3. BEST TAPAS
Let’s eat. You find Tapas bars everywhere but these are for me diamonds of the atmosphere!
.. La Cova Fumada
If you are on fasting or detox, you can still “eat” the atmosphere here.. And you will be full. Crowded with people inside and with the people waiting outside. We were drinking Estrella beer on the sun, waiting to be called by our names – as permission to come in. Finally, we were awarded the seats near a nice Spanish couple. Quickly clean the table with wet napkins, put another Estrella bottle in front of us and wait for a waiter to come back to tell you what the real feast means. We ordered a lot of things and cannot tell you what was the best. No fancy cutlery, no fancy plates. Just enjoy the feeling of your oily hands, messy sharing plates, and doubts about what to touch first. Sardines or a slice of Bruschetta? Bomba or Artichokes?
While we were eating and chatting with the couple sitting so close to us, local musicians came in. Live guitar background while eating. Loud, oily, sincere.. That is La Cova Fumada.
GoodToKnow: La Cova Fumada is a birthplace of a very famous tapa – La Bomba. It is said, that idea swooped in the head within these walls. “Potato Bomb” resembles the Anarchists’ weapon; the bomb. It all started in a small fisherman village of La Barceloneta. It was built, when people were forced to leave their houses. Many attacks of anarchist happened here and the most common weapon was iron ball filled with an explosive – La Bomba. La Barceloneta neighborhood is a trendy part of the town today.
JustToKnow: Many different varieties of Bombas can be found nowadays. But the classic one is made of mashed potatoes stuffed with minced meat, fried in the oil. It is served with Aioli sauce and a red Brava sauce. This spicy red sauce od the top characterizes the bloodshed.
.. Bar del Pla
Another great bar with the authentic atmosphere. Busy and informal. Great wines and tapas. Make sure to check their board with the current special offer, as they use many seasonal ingredients. I would love to come here once with a big group of friends and order everything from the paper menu:) Definitely try the Mushroom Carpaccio with Wasabi Vinaigrette. It was our taste buds highlight.
4. BEST DINING EXPERIENCE
This was absolutely the most exciting experience of the whole Barcelona trip. How it couldn’t be!? Adrià brothers are culinary stars and a big pride of Barcelona. Tickets is recently ranked as the 32nd best restaurant in the world, with Fran Agudo as Head Chef. The restaurant is awarded by 1 Michelin Star.
I have no idea how Tino, my husband, managed to get a reservation for dinner. You need to make booking a long time in advance. But he somehow manages and succeeds every time; it’s his superpower:) Frankly, it was a “La Vida Tapa” starting from the beginning. Carnival of changing tastes. The 14-course surprise menu was surprising us with every dish. Highlight? Avocado Ravioli with Crab, Chipotle Mayo and Chia Seeds. But the best is yet to come. Before the dessert, you are gifted with a ticket – to enter the world of Sweet Dreams. You are taken to another room, where strawberries and candies are hanging from the ceiling. Wonderland of the sweet treats. You enter a playground for a pastry chef Javier Aguiar and can try desserts such as Alaska Omelet or sipping rose sphere out of the real red rose.
GoodToKnow: El Barri group by brothers Iglesias and Albert Adrià has a total of six restaurants in Barcelona and 4 Michelin Stars altogether. “A gastronomic amusement park with six differentiated concepts in the same neighborhood” as they say..
5. BEST VEGETARIAN EXPERIENCE
.. Teresa Carles
We knew we will eat through all traditional Spanish tapas and meals on our trip. So we chose something little bit different for the arrival night. If you want to experience tapas and food in a fresh (really fresh) way, head here! It was our first evening and my surprise dinner. Teresa Carles specialized in vegetarian and vegan dishes. The menu looked great, sophisticated and I could not decide, what to choose. Most of the dishes are plant-based, but you also find fish on the menu.
JustToKnow: We tried Plant-based Bomba De La Barceloneta and Pickled Plant-based Tuna – actually without tuna. It was made of textured soy, kombu seaweed, olive oil, white wine, apple vinegar, Mediterranean spices, served with toasted bread with tomato. Mixed green olives with Ras el Hanut spices were also a great starter. From the main dishes, we went really green – “Teresa Goes To Tokyo” Salad (Wakame, asazuke macerated cucumber, daikon, cherry tomatoes, golden sesame macerated tofu and a sauce made of rice vinegar, mirin and soya) and “TC’ Kale” Salad (Organic kale, cherry tomatoes, avocado, mixed sprouts, nori seaweed, mango, radishes and a special Teresa’s lime dressing).
GoodToKnow: Teresa Carles has 35 years of experiences in vegetal and natural products and is considered to be a pioneer in vegetarian cuisine in Spain. She opened her first vegetarian restaurant in 1979 causing “an evolution” in the meat-lovers dining scene. There are more Teresa Carles spots through Barcelona – you can for example dine in Flax and Kale or grab a cold press juice in Teresa’s juicery.
6. BEST WINE
.. Bar Brutal / Can Cisa
It was BRUTAL. My surprise evening after the light dinner continued.. Tino took me for a walk and suddenly turned into an alley. Few meters later he pushed the door into the Castle of Wine! “Is Silvia here?” Tino asked. “Yes, I am here, welcome Tino, Ivon..” greeted us Silvia in Slovak language. She’s a sommelier in our favorite restaurant in Prague (ESKA). She was currently in Barcelona for an internship in one of the best city’s (and Europe’s) wine bar, Bar Brutal. Our good friend connected Tino with her and she took amazing care of us:) We tasted some of the best wines. You do not find a wine list here; they have a wine bible – with over 600 kinds of only natural and organic wines. That was brutal. Ask for a recommendation of what to drink instead of reading the bible.
Bottles were changing on our table and other sommeliers and Silvias’ friends were changing the seats at our table, as well. Time flies with a good company and wines.. Silvia thank you!
JustToKnow: No worries if you come here hungry. Their kitchen offers great tapas options. Their Sardines and Oysters are bombs – you can try them with different vinaigrettes. Order cheese and bread and you can easily spend all night here.
7. BEST COCKTAIL
.. Tuxedo Social Club
Sitting in Brutal wine bar, sipping one of (too) many wines, listening to „Aaand you have to try this one!“ – midnight passed away. It was already the day of my Birthday. This should be just the start of the celebrations – Silvia took us for a night walk to a really special place.
We knocked on the iron garage door. Somebody opened and was looking at us through the small gap. Silvia greeted, showed him a card an explained we are guests from Prague. We signed in our membership and got a golden card approving us to enter. Behind a roller door and behind a bookcase, speakeasy experience was waiting at its best.
To tell you the truth – I have no idea how my husband, Silvia and some of the other friends from Brutal Bar kept the pace. I could not finish my old-fashioned cocktail. I felt that I had pretty enough, although it‘s my Birthday night and the cocktail was amazing. The speakeasy atmosphere, music, and surrounding were perfect. I was enjoying the art of mastering cocktails by the bartender, the presentation of the drinks, that landed on our table and enjoying.. my head spinning:)
The photo is borrowed from Tuxedo Facebook. Phone calls and photos are not allowed. And I just can say, do not miss this place if you are into the secret, surprise, and authentic experiences. “An Oldfashioned a day keeps the doctor away!”
JustToKnow: Count on a hangover with an authentic experience:) I do not blame Tuxedo. I blame the hangover..
Tuxedo Social Club: Do your homework and google a little:) / @tuxedosocialclub
These are bonus spots we enjoyed as well..
.. La Panxa del Bisbe
When you do not want to eat in some tourist traps close to the Park Güell, this is a nice hidden spot. Only the locals were there, enjoying lunch and a glass of wine. I recommend their perfect tomato bread and marinated olives as a starter. And then try Red Snapper tartar topped on avocado and topped with a quail egg.
La Panxa del Bisbe: Carrer del Torrent de les Flors, 158, 08024 Barcelona / @lapanxadelbisbe
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.. Ciudad Condal
We came to this place accidentally. The terrace in the middle of Rambla de Catalunya called us. Let’s sit. We were happy to catch the place here anyway. If you cross the street and enter the restaurant itself, it will be definitely full of people waiting to be seated. But go inside – to check the old-school wooden interior and waiters running across the place. Waiting for the food, I found out, that Cuidad Comtal is a kind of legendary tapas restaurant famous for its Montaditos and large selection of beers. We ordered various kinds of Montaditos, Potato Tortilla and Paella with calamari. All was excellent!
JustToKnow: Ciudad Condal (Ciutat Comtal in Catalan) is the old name for the city of Barcelona.
GoodToKnow: Montaditos is simply the name for a mini sandwich, a kind of a tapa. It can be hot, cold, sweet or savory. Important is the filling inside and a good slice of bread. It can be topped with pretty much anything.
Ciudad Condal: Rambla de Catalunya, 18, 08007 Barcelona
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This was a small fancy kiosk selling various “empanadas” – nothing special, but nice for a quick bite when you are close to Sagrada Familia.
La Panada: Av. de Gaudí, 72, 08025 Barcelona
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This small chocolate factory was near Dalston Coffee and I was starring every morning at the Kruffins in the window. On the third day, there was no chance I will resist:) They sell various cronuts, doughnuts or homemade chocolates. As they say, a must-try is the chök, signature gourmet doughnut made to their own special recipe. Everything would be great if the lady at the counter was nicer – no “hello”, no “thank you”, no smile nor attention. I know that everybody can have a bad day, so I am not judging. Maybe you will be lucky to “catch” nice smiling-real-chocolate-lover-selling-guy. Just pointing it here as an option for a sweet breakfast with a cup of hot coffee from Dalston.
GoodToKnow: Cruffin is a Croissant in a form of muffin (laminated dough baked in a muffin form), usually filled with chocolate or another kind of filling. The first Cruffin was created by Kate Reid of Lune Croissanterie in 2013. Cronut looks like a doughnut but is made of croissant-like pastry dough. The very first cronut was created by Dominique Ansel in New York in 2013.
Hope you enjoyed and got hungry:) If you want to read more about history and sightseeing, you find another post about Barcelona here (Only in Slovak language, guys). But, please, do not take it too seriously, it was written in 2011 (!!!) while I was on my Erasmus studies. Back in time, Barcelona was still so beautiful and Sagrada Familia was still in the so slow process of “hard on-going work”.