Monday, November 28, 2011

6 Barcelona Restaurants You Probably Wont Find In Your Tour Book

By Javier Castillo - Nov/28/2011

When travelling to a new country we want to come prepared. Part of the cultural experience is eating local and good cuisine. In some cases, restaurants lose their authenticity, service and quality as they become tourist traps and are over exploited. They resort to churning out as many plates as possible to feed the growing demand of curious tourists. Some, however, cope well with the fame and with the influx of new and hungry clients and continue to maintain their quality and consistency.

One such restaurants is one of my favorites in Barcelona and on several occasions Ive been the "Mayor" there on Foursquare. Ciudad Condal is such the place:

1. Ciudad Condal on Rambla Catalunya, 18 (cross street is Gran Via de les Cortes Catalanas). They serve relatively inexpensive and quality tapas, friendly and quick service. The staff also speaks English. They don't take reservations so you need to get there and get your name on the list. The wait can sometimes be about 30 minutes but its well worth it. Try their patatas bravas, montadito de solomillo, chipirones fritos and pimientos de padron to get a good and broad selection of tapas. You will most likely spend about 25 - 35 euros per person but will leave full and satisfied. It is also a very family friendly and group restaurant and in the summer time and its nice to sit on their terrace outside (located on Rambla Catalunya) for people watching.

 More info:

2. Raco dén Cesc on Calle Diputacion, 201 (in the Eixample area in between Calle Muntaner and Calle Aribau). This place should have a Michelin star but doesn't. Pricey, but not that pricey for the quality and service you get. If you want to treat yourself, two people can eat with a nice bottle of wine for about 100 -150 euros total. This is more a romantic and quiet place to unwind, and it feels like you are eating in someones elegant living room. Excellent and creative Catalan dishes, using fresh local products, mostly obtained the same day from the central La Boqueria market. This is a place where the King and Queen of Spain have been spotted dining, as well as other celebrities. Its really a hidden gem and doesn't have too much publicity, so reservations should not be a problem.

More info:

3. Brown 33 on Passeig de Gracia, 33 (the cross street is Calle Consell de Cent). This sophisticated restaurant has excellent and creative pizzas and risottos (one of my favorites is the caramelized onions with foie gras pizza). For being on Passeig de Gracia its not too pricey and you can sit outside on their terrace - a prime spot and great for people watching. Pizzas and risottos are priced between 12 - 15 euros. The staff is friendly and attentive and the menu is not all Italian food, they also have Spanish dishes and tapas. I would recommend calling to make a reservation as it can get quite busy during the summer months.

More info:

4. Bodega La Tinaja on Carrer de l'Esparteria, 9 (in the Born area near Santa Maria Cathedral). Its a restaurant inside an old 16th century palace (or at least within the foundation that is still preserved). It is very rustic and old-worldy looking - candles and terracotta vases line the stone walls and old wooden tables give it a tabernesque feeling. You feel transported back to medieval times but its not a theme restaurant at all. A great place with a superb wine list and tasty yet simple traditional tapas. The good thing is that its not too pricey, but that depends on how much wine you consume. For couples, this is also a great romantic and cozy pre- or post- night spot.

More info:

5. Flamant on C/ Enric Granados, 23 (in between Calle Consell de Cent and Aragon). Its a nice restaurant with really affordable and reasonably priced dishes. A bit on the formal side with white table cloths and a sophisticated interior, but it appeals to a younger demographic and on weekends it can be a bit loud and busy. Great place to try some traditional Catalán dishes, the have paella, seafood, meats, tapas, cheap house wine (about 8 euros a bottle) as well as tasty dessert menu. Great place to take a lot of people and you don't need reservations, just show up at the door at 9:00 pm when they open. The dishes are well-priced and you will probably pay no more than 30 - 35 euros each including a few bottles of wine.

More info:

6. Dos Palillos on C/ Elisabets, 9 (in the Raval area near the MACBA and next to the Camper Hotel). The head chef, Albert Raurich, used to work under Ferran Adria in el Bulli. They serve creative Asian tapas and the price at night is fixed at 55 euros for the lighter menu or 80 euros for the full menu. You get around 12 - 15 small dishes in the full menu, but don't worry you will leave satisfied. The place is cozy and reminds you of a Tokyo sushi bar, no tables so you have to actually sit at the long bar, which is great to see the chefs in action. Great and friendly service and the food is excellent and deserving of its fame.

More info:

Buen provecho!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nightlife in Barcelona - Video for the Travel Channel

By Javier Castillo - Nov/27/2011

Stay out late in Barcelona. Enjoy Asian Fusion cuisine at Buda Restaurante before hitting the town in the Arts Hotel District, one of the city's late night hot spots. Check out this video for the Travel Channel where I give some insight into some of Barcelona's gems: