This is part three of my Barcelona trip – for parts one and two, please see below.
I adored so many aspects of Barcelona – the beautiful architecture, friendly culture, amazing shopping, and more. My favorite aspect of Barcelona however, was of course, the food! It was so amazing and I would fly directly back to Spain tomorrow if I had the chance. We tried to eat at as many places as possible and I wanted to share some of my favorite spots and dishes here today.
The very first restaurants we went to in Barcelona was Gelonch, which was recommended by a friend. Since we were facing several weeks of holiday gluttony right before, I really wanted our Barcelona stay to be more about casual dining – aka no formal dress code, 2-3 star Michelin places. Gelonch was probably the most formal place we went to, but it wasn’t even truly so – jeans and trainers (albeit nicer ones) were fine here.
Gelonch is the restaurant of Robert Gelonch, who was formerly at El Bulli. The food was very impressive – very modern but not overly complicated, and with great flavors. Here were two favorites from the tasting we ordered.
The first was a little duo of onion (I think one was an amuse bouche and one was the first course of our tasting). The right was a fried onion “paper” with onion cream, while the left was a flaky croquette that was also topped with an onion cream. Delicious!
Another highlight was my personal favorite at Gelonch and one of my favorite dishes we had in Barcelona – a shiitake mushroom and Jamón ibérico ham soup. Oh wow was this amazing. As a soup fan I always try and order it at restaurants, and this is one of the best that I’ve had (my favorite remains Gary Danko). It was like a Spanish version of a fabulous miso soup, if that makes any sense.
The next few days, we decided to explore many tapas bars and tried countless ones. Here are a few of my favorite spots, starting with Tapas 24. If you’re staying at the Mandarin Oriental, I highly recommend going here, since it’s right around the corner from the hotel!
Tapas 24 doesn’t take reservations, so be warned that there is sometimes a line. We ordered about 5-6 dishes and enjoyed them all. Here are a few of our favorites.
The first was an oxtail stew. I’m not normally a fan of oxtail but this was amazing. I even ordered an extra serving of bread just to lop up the remaining sauce. This is a dish that Tapas 24 is particularly known for, we were told.
Another great dish was this egg/potatos/iberian ham scramble. It was like gourmet Denny’s and surprisingly perfect at 10 PM with some sangria!
The last was my personal favorite dish – I loved it so much that I really wanted to order seconds, but decided to try something else on the menu instead. One of my favorite dishes in Barcelona – a “bikini” aka ham and cheese sandwich, with black truffles, grilled to perfection.
The next few tapas bars were both very close to the Picasso Museum (and my favorite Mammoth Museum) in Barcelona, and a great place to stop for a snack either before/after or both!
Bar del Pla:
I actually only tried two dishes at Bar del Pla as a snack right before we went to the Mammoth Museum. This was a very popular spot and I’d like to come back one day and try more dishes.
I tried two types of croquettes – meat and mushroom. Both were fantastic.
On our third night in Barcelona, we went to what ended up being one of my favorite places we ate at – Tapeo, which was very close to Bar del Pla. I’d recommend reservations – our concierge called the day of and was able to get us in at 8 PM, and there were lines outside. This restaurant was delicious, I would have gone back for seconds (and thirds) had there been time in our itinerary.
At most restauants we ordered the Iberian ham which I loved, and we did the same at Tapeo. It was fun watching the chefs slice off the meat. I have to admit that I peeled off some of the fat bits shamefully like the native Californian I am.
Tapeo is known for their bravas dish (fried potatoes topped with tomato sauce and a garlic aioli) and rightfully so!
This was my favorite dish at Tapeo, a salad of salmon, potatoes, roe and a wasabi sauce that was so good. I guess they know the sauce is great because the dish came with a bottle of more sauce that we could use as needed. The flavor of the potato mixed with the salmon and roe bursting in your mouth was amazing.
We sat at the bar, and our bartender/server was very charming and made delicious drinks. I was particularly fond of the cava sangria (this is him mixing the wine sangria below).
The seafood was so amazing everywhere we went in Barcelona, that I really wanted to try out a Spanish interpretation of one of my favorite fish dishes to order – black cod. While walking down the Passeig de Gràcia on one of our last days in Spain, we happened to pass by a restaurant called Fishop (get it?) which seemed to have quite a few patrons enjoying sushi and other dishes. I decided this place was worth a try!
I heard from a fellow diner that Fishop was one of the best places to find sushi in Barcelona. But my personal favorite dish from the restaurant was their black cod croquette, something that I didn’t find anywhere else in Barcelona. And it was delicious!
Now aside from restaurants, we also decided to check out quite a few little sweet shops for late night indulgences to have on hand, as well as gifts to bring home. Here are a few of my personal favorite spots.
Planelles Donat was a very charming little turrone (nougat) shop, which we happened to stumble upon. I had to stop and check it out because a) I love nougat and always enjoy those parts of Toblerone the best, and b) I am generally attracted to any stores that sell sweets and feature large crowds. There were so many turrone varieties and I had the hardest time making up my mind!
There were fruit, chocolate, caramel, almond, coconut, sesame, praline, marzipan, and much, much more. In the end my husband and I each chose one flavor each, and the shop worker carefully measured out our quantity and wrapped it up with their charming paper. And by the way – it was delicious, of course!
Another sweet shop that we happened to just stumble upon was Fargas.
Fargas was a chocolate shop with the most wonderful window displays of chocolate and other sweets.
Once inside, I was so overwhelmed with all the choices that I had to walk back out again, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything in the window displays!
I decided to get some chocolates and asked the man behind the counter which ones were his favorites. He demurred for a bit and then pointed at a tray of rather plain looking ones. His English wasn’t the best, so he just said, “Cookie.”
Cookie? I was hoping for something more exotic, but in the end decided to heed his advice and added quite a few pieces to my little bag. And of course in the end…the chocolates that he recommended, turned out to be AMAZING! They were a cookie crumble consistency but with a flaky texture of nougat mixed with caramel…I can’t even describe it. WOW.
And with the cookie chocolates…I’ve come to the end of my Barcelona food report. I know this is probably the gushing of a Spain amateur, but I was so, so impressed with the food in Barcelona. I cannot wait to go back to this amazing city, and hope that there will be many more Spanish food experiences to come in my future!
PS: A quick note that since we decided to visit Barcelona over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday, a few of the restaurants I wanted to try (Tickets, etc) ended up being closed. If you do want to travel to Barcelona for a “food adventure” I’d recommend staying away from major holiday periods as well as August.