Monday, December 16, 2019

Are you obsessed with food? Your guide to 3 delectable nights in Barcelona

Paella and a sea view at Martinez in Barcelona, Spain

We stayed for 3 nights at the lovely Corner Hotel in Barcelona's Eixample neighborhood. This is an elegant area of Barcelona with many dining options. Other good locations to use as a home base are the Gothic Quarter and El Born. It has a lobby filled with hip Spanish people working on their laptops, stylish rooms with lovely views, and a pool on the roof. We loved the irresistible jars of candy and bottles of cava in the lobby and the room sound-system complete with their own playlist. The only downside was one very hot night when our air conditioning broke, so they refunded us that night and moved us to an identical, but much cooler room.

Rose bubbly to welcome us to Barcelona at the Corner Hotel in Eixample
Cheers to our arrival at the Corner Hotel in Barcelona

Uber isn't in Barcelona currently, so we used Cabify the whole time and found it cheap and easy. When possible we opted to hoof it, as wandering around the beautiful old parts of town is one of the best parts of the visit.

Barcelona Restaurants

I was overwhelmed with choice when it came to picking restaurants in Spain. The country is home to a shocking number of Michelin starred-restaurants, and you could easily eat at world-class and very pricey restaurants every night. But I typically find that my favorite meals aren't the fanciest, so we decided to limit ourselves to just a couple "fancy" spots. The Spanish famously eat very late, so we made all of our reservations for 9 or 9:30 pm. Any earlier and you will find yourself alone or eating with only Americans.

Our first night we enjoyed a moderately priced meal at the stylish Fismuler. This spot from El Bulli alums originally began in Madrid and was filled with hip 30 and 40-something Spaniards. Always a fan of being somewhere locals actually eat at. The highlight was their unique take on cheesecake made with Idiazabal and Gorgonzola. A little funkier than what you're used to, but so so good.

I wanted paella at least once in Spain, and we chose Martinez for its combination of renowned paella dishes and a stellar view from Montjuic mountain to the sea. It was a lovely spot to enjoy seafood paella, a bottle of Spanish white and some jamon croquettes!

Entrance of the highly rated Barcelona restaurant, Disfrutar

The star of our trip to Barcelona was definitely Disfrutar, recently named as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. A chic setting, 25 (yes 25!) courses with eclectic wine pairings, and every single dish was both interesting and delicious. This was one of the most expensive meals I've ever had, and often that results in my expectations not being met, but in this case, I'm glad to say it was worth every penny! We sat at a prep bar, which gave us a close up view of the pastry chefs at work. Highly recommended!

Frozen lychee and gin dew drops at Disfrutar
Frozen lychee and gin dew drops at Disfrutar
Sweet corn and fois gras dish at Disfrutar

Sweet corn and fois gras at Disfrutar

Creative cotton candy dish at Barcelona's Disfrutar
Would you believe this is cotton candy? Creative reigns at Disfrutar
Chocolate "pepper" dessert at Disfrutar
Chocolate "peppers" at Disfrutar

Sweet Treats

Sweet treats abound in Barcelona. Don't miss dipping your churros in the thick Spanish hot chocolate at Chocolatería San Ginés. Another adorable spot was Caelum, which serves Tocinillo de Cielo, a truly heavenly custard made from leftovers of sherry winemaking

Churros and hot chocolate at Barcelona's Chocolatería San Ginés
Churros and hot chocolate at Barcelona's Chocolatería San Ginés

Sweet custard dessert at Barcelona's Caelum
Tocinillo de Cielo at Barcelona's Caelum

Barcelona Markets

Barcelona has many food markets, the most famous of which is Boqueria. That one is definitely worth a visit, but you'll be there with every other tourist in town, so go early if you want it to yourself.

Santa Catarina is a less touristy option. Stop in and grab some jamon iberico to enjoy as you stroll around. Mercat de la Llibertat is another authentic option. Sidle up to El Tast de Joan noi for some ultra fresh seafood, especially tuna with a soy sauce, sherry and walnut dressing and squid, clams and white beans.

La Boqueria market in Barcelona
The famous La Boqueria market

Jamon at Barcelona's La Boqueria market
Jamon Iberico at Barcelona's Boqueria

Barcelona's Sites

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona
Barcelona's famed Sagrada Familia

We prefer to wander around a city and just soak it in, versus hitting a rigid schedule of museums and churches, but no visit to Barcelona would be complete without a stop by Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece, Sagrada Familia. I highly recommend booking your timed tickets in advance to avoid the lines, and don't skip the audio tour that comes with your ticket. The church has come a long way since I visited nearly 20 years ago as a backpacker, and allegedly will finally be completed in 2026.

There are lots of other Gaudi spots you can visit in town. We chose only one other, Casa Mila, an apartment building where there are still a few residents. It's lovely and weird in just the way you'd expect of something Gaudi designed, and was well worth a visit.

Normally I'd say Park Guell is a don't miss, but currently it's under some construction, and I'd visited in the past, so we chose to skip it. Otherwise, plan on leaving lots of time to just wander around the beautiful streets of the Gothic Quarter or grab a table on a beautiful square and sip wine, sangria or a gin and tonic.

See the full map of all my Spain recs if you're interested in San Sebastian, Madrid or Rioja, too!

Happy eating!

I've included affiliate links to recommended tours. I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

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