Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Where to Eat in Barcelona - Tapas, Paella and More!

where to eat in Barcelona
The Yum List's Pick of Best Spots to Eat in Barcelona

With a little help from some Spanish chef friends, The Yum List tracked down some of the best restaurants and tapas bars in Barcelona. Our list is by no means comprehensive (there is a tapas bar or more on just about every street corner in the city), but it is a refined list with the input of local chefs, and the taste bud approval of four official tasters. So here we've narrowed it down to some 'don't miss' deliciousness in our summary of:

Where to Eat in Barcelona

Most visitors stay around the city centre, so here's a couple of our favourite finds in the area. 

First off... coffee! Sad to say, we are coffee snobs, and we had a bit of trouble finding a brew that was up to standard. Seems the third wave coffee culture has not yet reached the city. Thank goodness hubby stumbled across Kimbo Coffee. This little gap in the wall on Gran Via has a complete caffeine menu of espresso based drinks. Need a little spark to get the motor running in the morning? Why not try a shot of java with a splash of rum? Ándale!

Kimbo

Promise, I'll get to the Spanish cuisine soon. Before that though, I have to have a sing a little praise for La Taberna de L'Eixample, which is just a few metres from Kimbo Coffee and a great place to fuel up in preparation for a day of sight seeing. Serving up Venezuelan cuisine, such as arepas, tequeños and tostones, we had to have brekkie here and can highly recommend the Cachapa con Queso - a Venezuelan corn pancake with soft white cheese - que rico!

La Taberna de L'Eixample - Cachapa con Queso - Yum!

Brekkie taken care of, just a block up from these two spots, you can find the very chic Norte Bar and Restaurant. A modern clean, white setting offers a cheery place to relish some well-crafted tapas with a distinctive contemporary feel. Check out the 'fish of the day' - it's one of their top sellers.

Norte

Michelin starred chef, Carles Abellan, is behind Tapas 24 and the tapas bar proves to be just what you'd expect of such a rating. It's buzzing with people just about any time of day, gifting a rather exciting atmosphere. There's a long list of must tries at this restaurant, but to keep it simple, we recommend the Bikini - a mouthwatering toasted sandwich of buffalo mozzarella, truffle and serrano ham - divine!

Tapas 24 - The Bikini (and cava ;-)

While prices seem cheap in tapas bars, all those little plates (and drinks) soon add up and at some point in time you're going to want a full meal. Restaurant Al Punt has surprisingly excellent value set meals (on the evenings and weekends - not just lunch on weekdays). I must admit I was not expecting such quality and portions for 13 euros, but the deal turned out to be of extremely high merit and included a starter, main, dessert, bread and drink all included in the price. 

best value restaurant Barcelona
Restaurant Al Punt
Moving further into the heart of the tourist centre you must visit Mercado de la Boqueria. Brimming with fresh produce, countless stalls of cured meats and cheeses and a few tapas bars with stools kept constantly warmed by a never ending stream of bottoms, the spirit is lively and great place to sample some of Barcelona's finest. Our chefs' picks for this area are Pinotxo, El Quim de la Boqueria, and Kiosko Universal.

where to eat in barcelona
Mercado de la Boqueria
A classic in the old part of the city, Bar del Pla is just one of those places you have to visit to say that you have truly explored the tapas bars of the city. Here we enjoyed the croquettes, and craft beer.

best tapas bars barcelona
Bar del Pla

When you've had your fill of tapas again and are looking for more of a table dining experience and full course meal, head to the port to La Mar Salada for elegant dining and delectable paella. There are a number of paella's here worth trying including the arroz negro (black rice) and the fideuà (made with noodles instead of rice). We go for the classic though and you should remember to scrape the bottom and edges of the pan for the best bits of the paella - the caramelised rice - orgasmic. It's worth ordering a few tapas to share as starters also as they are exquisitely plated and meticulously prepared. 

La Mar Salada  - Paella Tradicional - Must order!

Get out of the city centre a little bit, off the main tourist drags and you are blessed with great deal of excellent food at reasonable prices. La Barceloneta is one such locale, wedged between the popular old town and the shiny new areas around the port and beach, where unpolished gems can still be found.  El Vasa de Oro was described to us as having the best draft beer in all of Barcelona (they brew in-house themselves) and also the best Ensalada Rusa (Russian salad). This turned out to be a fabulous tip and we couldn't fault their other small plates either such as the smooth tasty slices of morcilla.

El Vasa de Oro
A block way from El Vaso de Oro, is another classic that comes highly recommended by locals, Jai-Ca. They boast an extensive menu of goodies and the chefs working in an open kitchen are more than happy for you to take a peak at what they're up to. The signature dish here though is the Anchovies with Fried Bone. Take them with an icy cold beer or house wine, and you see why the simple things in life are often the best. Yum!

best tapas bars barcelona
Jai-Ca
But our favourite, we save for last. There's something alluring about a place that has no sign, no advertisement, no website, no other way of finding it other than being personally guided by someone in the know - and that's what we needed to find La Cova Fumada. Marked only by the number 56 and a hint of vivacious stirring from within we entered a world four generations old: wine from a wooden box, food from a fiery kitchen and service from friendly characters that clearly love their business. Again you could spend a few hours sampling, conversing and soaking up the atmosphere but are top picks are the Bombas a la Cova (croquettes with minced meat inside), and coffee with a kick - ask for the Cariñoso for something smooth (espresso with citrus liqueur 43), or something to get your heart pumping, El Pirata (same base as the Cariñoso with a piece of lemon and spoon of rum).

And with that, I leave you with a few photos from La Cova Fumada.

La Cova Fumada - look for the big wooden doors and the number 56 (PS it closes at 4pm)
La Cova Fumada - Bomba La Cova
best tapas bar barcelona
La Cova Fumada - Cariñoso and El Pirata (rum, 43, espresso)
best tapas bars barcelona
Service with a Smile and a Story
best tapas bars Barcelona
La Cuenta - the bill - old school

Don't see travels to Spain in your near future? Don't worry, we are lucky to have some Barcelona chefs right here in Kuala Lumpur recreating a scrumptious tapas bar experience. Check out chef David Caral (who by the way was our wonderful insider guide to the gastronomy of Barcelona) and his crew at Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar in Bangsar for a delectable Barcelona experience.

best tapas kuala lumpur
Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar - Bangsar

17 comments:

  1. My first step on Spanish soil was at Barcelona. Came in via Port Bou (Fra/Esp) border crossing.
    Stayed in an old colonial type hotel which had once been grand - can't think what the name
    was but it was near the port and great public transport to all the highlights of Barcelona.
    I would hazard a guess the old hotel is no more!

    I guess paella is a dish that if not prepared expertly for your initial tasting, you could be
    turned off it for life. The mussels were a 'put off" for me, but once I convinced the restaurant
    and bar people that mussels and I do not agree, then it was OK. Paella and Sangria go
    together very well until smarty pants like me (well I was a bloody lot younger) tried the
    excess part - ha ha! I think your El Cordobes can fill in the missing details for you, Moncia!

    I found the Catalonians of Barcelona were a bit like the "Mexican Melbournites" when it
    came to sport - namely soccer (football for some!) - against those who lived up in the middle (north),
    Madrid to be precise - and here just like Sydney for those from muddy-river city (Melbourne).
    I don't think having a REAL MADRID logo on your car window would be a good idea in Barcelona!
    No love is lost between Barcelona v's Madrid - so much like Melbourne v's Sydney!

    Barcelona is now so easily accessible with only one stop at either Dubai (Emirates) or
    Abu Dhabi (Etihad Airlines).

    Viva Espania and many oles
    Colin Cordobes ( the twin from Australia)
    PS: I wanted to keep the twin part secret - ha ha!!!!

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    1. Apparently the port in Barcelona is the busiest port for cruise ships in all of Europe! It is rather spectacular and surprisingly clean for a place that gets so much traffic.
      Paella is quite a regional dish - generally filled with protein found in the area. In the centre of the country, you often find rabbit in the dish, of course along the coastline seafood is the main protein. Colin, I'm getting you feeling that don't mind a Sangria or three. Tee hee!
      Oh my, I'm not even going to touch your sporting comment. I had to drag hubby away from the stadium. Not my thing, even after living in Latin America for half a decade.
      Both airlines have a great reputation. And... both cities make a great stopover if you're not fond on those extended travel times. The older I get, the more I want breaks in the trip. Gone are the days of 48 hours of non-stop travel to get from Australia to Latin America. Never again in one trip for me.
      Don't worry, you're twin secret is safe with me. ;-)

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  2. I wouldn't know that No. 56 is an eating place, looking at it from the outside - the La Cova Fumada.

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    1. I am glad you commented on this "Suituapui". I wasn't game.
      It looked to me like an almost open air toilet!
      Especially with that bloke inside! And the one outside waiting his
      turn!!
      And I also wondered why it would close at 4.00 pm!!!
      Maybe Catalonian male bladders shut down at 4.00 pm????
      Colin Cordobes

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    2. Hidden, but full! It adds to the intrigue a little - we know a secret place that only the locals know about. ;-)

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  3. I am drooling over the pristine white slab of fish!

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    1. Oh Ken, this was a beautiful sample of freshness. I think you would adore a foodie crawl around the city.

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  4. I really do live a sheltered life! LOL! I mean, the more I read your posts the more I realize just how many foods I have not tried! Thank you so much for sharing, your posts are fantastic! :)

    Oh, and I have a suggestion for you should you ever come to Montreal! There is a place called Chalet Bar-b-q which is on Sherbrooke Street West, and this place, although not fancy, serves up the best barbecue chicken around! They opened in 1944...yes, during WWII! Imagine, they have been there 71 years. Trust me, there is good reason for it. :)

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    1. Linda, I would love to visit Montreal. And... hopefully in the future I will be able to consult you for a list of must sees and eats. I do adore these places that carry a history with them. 71 years - exactly - has to be for good reason.

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  5. Oh yes! Bookmarking this post, for I am going to this lovely city next year!

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    1. Lucky you! Barcelona is such an exciting city. Loads of great things to eat, drink and see.

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  6. The bikini sounds enticing ;) Wow, look at all those cured meats....a sight to behold!

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    1. The bikini was fab! Especially good with a glass of cava.

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  7. i might be able to finish that entire pan of luscious paella on my own! :)

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    1. I'm with you on that one Sean! I like to scrape right down to the crispy bits around the edge of the pan.

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  8. The fish of the day for me...all looks lovely.

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  9. I'm with whiteangel....fish of the day. Your pictures are all stunning, and I do enjoy tapas.

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