Spain Foodie Tour 2017
July 22, 2017 3:04 PM   Subscribe

Your must eats in Barcelona, San Sebastian, Seville, and Granada. Tell me them. Extra bonus points if you can recommend a good tour where we can see a Jamon Iberico (farm to table) production.

Mrs. Karaage and little Karaage and I are visiting Spain for 10 days in September. We. Are. Foodies. and want to hear all your places that are must visits, particular dishes that were memorable, all price ranges, from fast food to michelin stars.

It'd be nice if they're family friendly and receptive to a 10 month old, but arrangements can be made if not.

A few days each in Barcelona, San Sebastian, Seville, and Granada - a cursory googling told me that trips from seville can be had to see the Jamon Iberico production, which we would love to see if you can recommend a specific tour company worth a call. Cheese production would also be lovely.
posted by Karaage to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
If you will (or can) be in the Gracia neighborhood of Barcelona, or Hondarribia near San Sebastian, I can give you some suggestions from a trip this spring.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 3:56 PM on July 22, 2017

We currently only have cities mapped out at the moment, no specific neighbors or regions within those cities. Happy to hear all recommendations to help us figure out where we want to be.
posted by Karaage at 4:11 PM on July 22, 2017

Hondarribia is about a 20 minute bus ride from San Sebastian, and the San Sebastian airport was literally walking distance from our airbnb which was in what I would call the old town (not sure if it was formally designated as such) of Hondarribia. The restaurants we liked best were Arraunlari and Danontzat. The food was excellent and in both restaurants someone who seemed to be the chef came out and talked with us. We also enjoyed El Curry Verde which is located in a kind of marina area that is not at all touristy - or wasn't in mid-May, at least. It is vegetarian, interesting, and good, though more some combination of Middle Eastern and Asian than Spanish or Basque. We sat outside and ended up eating lunch over the course of about 2.5 hours because different parts of the menu became available at different times (drinks, then small dishes, then larger dishes). It ended up being quite pleasant.

We only spent a day in San Sebastian; there we went to (and ate at) the San Telmo Museum. The food was good, and while we were there some sort of foodie group came in, ate one or two small dishes, and left within a few minutes.

In Barcelona, many reviews will tell you to try that restaurant's version bread with tomato. We had it a couple of times; it was fine, but I was not particularly impressed. In terms of particular recommendations: we really enjoyed Singular and Felice which is apparently Dutch. We also ate at several other restaurants nearby that were also fine, some of which seemed to be fairly hipster-ish and possibly aimed at English-speaking expats.

Enjoy your trip! I would be curious to hear how you like any of these places if you end up going to them.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:35 PM on July 22, 2017

Our trip was just me + my boyfriend, no kids. None of these except the vegetarian place struck me as particularly child-friendly, but the only one that I think even might be actively problematic would be Danontzat, and even they probably would be ok.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:39 PM on July 22, 2017

My favorite spots in San Sebastián: Borda Berri for pintxos (get the Idiazabal risotto), Ganbara for spider crab tartlets, Churreria Santa Lucia for churros and chocolate, and La Vina for cheesecake.

Eat extra for me!
posted by constellations at 6:31 PM on July 22, 2017

You aren't going near the areas where the better jamon is made, and you don't have enough time.

Also ten days is way too short for that trip.

Sevilla tapas is a good website for that city. Would rec Tradevo and abantal, but that city is quite traditional and tapas driven

In Grenada you have to go to bar fm.

An issue in Sevilla and Granada with kids is the non touristic places that close during the day often don't reopen until 9, which can be tough to pull off.

With specific exceptions don't eat below placa Catalunya in Bcn. Consider Rias de Galicia if you don't go turbot & shellfish crazy in San Sebastián. Maybe espai kru? Bcn is pretty easy to research on line. Always thought gresca, hisop etc all offered great value but that was years ago.
posted by JPD at 7:20 PM on July 22, 2017

Oh I went to Seville with a ten month old last year - even to lunch at abantal and it was fine.
posted by JPD at 7:30 PM on July 22, 2017

Unless you have a teleportation machine, that's too many places in too few days. I would stick to two of those and save the others for the next trip.
Adler Marlow are awesome and can arrange trips in Barcelona that specifically address your interests. Tell them I sent you!
posted by conifer at 11:18 PM on July 22, 2017

In Barcelona, near the Catedral, there's an amazing place that is ostensibly for kids but, really, it is a high quality pulperia and vermutteria and one of my favorite places. It is called Bobo Pulpin and by the same group that runs Espai Kru.
posted by vacapinta at 3:44 AM on July 23, 2017

San Sebastián/Donostia is a foodie paradise! There are several "World's Best" destinations where you might try to get a reservation if this kind of fine dining appeals to you: Arzak, Martín Berastegui, and Mugaritz are all easily accessible from San Sebastián.

If you have a car, you should consider a drive down to the tiny village of Axpe and a meal at Asador Etxebarri - an unforgettable experience because of the combination of the remote beauty of the location and the superior quality of the food.

Another worthy excursion from San Sebastián would be the tiny village of Getaria. You can visit the Balenciaga museum and then have a leisurely lunch in the harbor at either Kaia Kaipe or Txoko - both serve fresh seafood prepared well. Kaia Kaipe is more traditional; Txoko has a more modern flair.

Likewise, a drive to the Bilbao area would take you right by the Azurmendi complex where you would have two first-rate dining options - either do the high-end feast on the top of the hill at Azurmendi or stop at the more affordable restaurant - Eneko - on the lower level.

Now...back to San Sebastián/Donostia! You absolutely MUST do a pintxos crawl, walking around from bar to bar enjoying pintxos and perhaps a cold glass of the local wine, txakoli. Here's my walking map that I prepared for a visit last spring. (I was there on a Monday; all the spots on my map are open on Mondays - which is a rarity.)

In Barcelona, try to get "tickets" to Tickets and enjoy that experience. Another worthy day trip from Barcelona would be to make your way to the town of Girona. Try to book a table at El Celler de Can Roca (an extraordinary experience) or at least roam the streets of the town, tasting tapas or enjoying an ice cream at Rocambolesc.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! I'm going back to the Basque Country in November and I cannot wait!
posted by tmharris65 at 6:04 AM on July 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

When we were on Barcelona, we went to a la Plata in the Barri Gotic that which has been there since 1945 run by the same family. They only have a few things- I recommend the sardines which they catch and fry and their wine that they pour from high up. Very authentic feeling and super cheap.
We also liked Tucco Real Food, where young people made homemade empanadas and pastas with good desserts and bread. The food was very well done, it was hip and had locals, and a good value in the middle of a touristy area in the old city.
posted by ceramicblue at 6:23 AM on July 23, 2017

Are you looking for "authentic Catalan cuisine" or just great food, regardless of roots? I live in BCN so can provide some suggestions but unfortunately I can't help you much with the "regionally authentic" thing in the city, as it now has such a blend of food cultures that it's not really a meaningful concept.

However there are a few places to get more classic "Catalan" dishes if that's your thing. El Glop in Gracia is one that comes to mind. Or you can check out Meson David for very affordable hearty food with Catalan-ish roots.

If you were visiting at a different time of year (eg Feb/Mar) it would be worth finding a place to eat calcots (roasted spring onions with romesco sauce) but since it doesn't say when you're coming I'll just share some ideas about food in general.

Regarding your 10-month old, everyone will be entirely accommodating and unfazed by bringing a young child, regardless of the type of place you're eating at (kids are far more a part of everyday life in Spain than many other countries) and will usually have a high-chair you can borrow. One thing to watch out for though is the different times of day that people eat here. eg unless it's aimed at tourists it is rare that you can find hot food being served in a restaurant before 1pm or sometimes even 1:30. In the evenings, kitchens may well not open till 8:30 or 9pm but will keep serving till after midnight. Kitchens generally close between 5 and 8ish.

The advice from JPD above to not eat anywhere below Pl Catalunya is generally sound, but a little harsh, perhaps. Just avoid at all costs eating, drinking or really doing anything at all on the Ramblas and also most of the area to the left of it (as you are walking downhill from Placa Catalunya). As always, there are some exceptions to this rule. Inside La Boqueria (the famous market halfway up las Ramblas) is Kiosko Universal which does incredible shellfish if you can get a seat (show up around 12:30 and be prepared to wait for a seat at the bar).

Also not far from Las Ramblas is a place that I've been eating at for about 12 years and always come back to. It looks extremely unpromising from the outside but has fantastic, hearty Peruvian food. It's called Pei Mong on c/ dels Templers. The fried yucca is the best I've ever had and the ceviche is also fabulous. The food is hearty and rich-flavoured - I recommend the lomo saltado especially but it's all good.

On the right of Las Ramblas is el Raval and you can find some decent food there, especially over towards Sant Antoni and Poble Sec. The Moritz Brewery in Sant Antoni is pretty commercial so not your typical dark bodega but the food is good, a weird blend Spanish and Alsatian food. And you can drink Moritz unpasterurised beer they make on the premises. Beautiful building too.

Poble Sec is emerging as a foodie heaven. You can wander up c/ Blai one evening and find some places that serve good tapas-y type things, and it's generally a lovely neighbourhood to hang out in. (Note: although tapas is now definitely something people find in BCN it's not in any way typical in this part of the world. It only really became a thing from about 2003 onwards when mass tourism really took over in BCN and tourists started expecting it. So basically you can find good tapas style food and interesting reinterpretations of tapas, but don't expect the "true" tapas experience you'll find in Madrid and the South).

In Gracia you might not find loads of ultra-foodie places, but it's one of the nicest neighbourhoods to wander round in the afternoon and finding a seat at a restaurant on Placa de la Vila de Gracia is worth the effort. A place called Cadaques opened up recently that looks good but I haven't tried it. If ramen is your thing (it is mine) check out Ramen-Ya Hiro on c/ Girona - it's tiny, and you'll need to queue from about 12:45 if you want to get in for the lunch sitting at 13:30 but it's lovely. They open at weird times on certain days so check before you go.

Down in Barceloneta, there's a place called Jai-ca which you should visit on a Sunday around noon onwards and stand outside and drink vermut de la casa (home made vermouth) and eat fried bunyoles de bacalao (cod balls) and other snacky fried fish.

And finally if you can get a place and make the dates work for your visit, I strongly recommend you get in touch with the Anna, Buster and the guys at Rooftop Smokehouse who do a bi-weekly specialist tasting menu at their kitchen in Eixample.

It's a real treat and will connect you more than anything else with modern BCN foodie culture. At the very least you'll get far better recommendations from them than I can offer you here. Note there is nothing especially Catalan in what they serve (although one of the owners is from BCN) they just have an incredible attention to quality produce and real craftsmanship in their food.

I think that's all I can offer for now. Have a great trip. Would love to hear what you think of these suggestions and also any new ones you find.

If you want great coffee, look for Nomad Coffee (roasted locally and the owner Jordi is two-time Spanish Barista of the year winner) and take some beans back with you.
posted by JohnnyForeign at 3:31 PM on July 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

All good suggestions.
The Rooftop Smokehouse guys also sell their pastrami at Paradiso, and you can go and have a nice cocktail inside the secret bar through the fridge afterwards.
Seconding Jai-ca and vermouth in general, drink it whenever you can, preferably paired with some olives or fish in vinegar.
Pei Mong I haven't been to for years, but we used to have some great dinners there with large groups, and the fact that it's still there in Barcelona's everchanging food scene means something.
Meson David is awesome, one of my favourite places in town for good honest no-nonsense food, but be aware that it's very typically Galician, not Catalan.
You're going to get better foreign food wherever you live than you will here, but that said, Ramen-Ya is good and you can sit outside if you're lucky. Buns and Koku Kitchen (same Irish owners) also have very good ramen, to my mind their broth edges out Ramen-Ya.
I have a 4 year old and a 1.5 year old, and we take them everywhere to dinner, it's not even an issue in Spain. Obviously, don't take them to a michelin star place or somewhere super fancy but apart from that it's fine.
posted by conifer at 11:01 PM on July 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Planning our own trip to BCN in November and damn, the idea of rooftop pastrami and secret cocktails sounds amazing . . .

We did a tour in Istanbul a few years ago with Culinary Backstreets, and it was amazing. Recently, a friend did one of their walks in Barcelona, I think this one nd she raved about it. It ended with several glasses of cava in a private/back room set up surrounded by all the jamon. Not so much production related, but a special tasting experience in any case.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:12 PM on July 24, 2017

Exceptional_Hubris, that tour sounds good but describing El Born as a seaside neighbourhood is a verrrry big stretch. I know - it's where I live!
posted by conifer at 1:15 PM on July 25, 2017

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