Port Food: Where to Eat in Barcelona

by Danielle Contray

Port Food: Where to Eat in Barcelona

by Danielle Contray

Barcelona is rightfully described as one of the best cities for foodies in the world, with chefs setting global trends and also celebrating Spanish classics. The good news for cruisers is that the ship terminal is located at the base of Las Ramblas, a sprawling thoroughfare that leads through the heart of the city, and many of the city's best sites — and best eats — are within walking distance of your ship.

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Tickets / elBarri
Tickets
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1. Tickets

Chefs Ferran and Albert Adrià opened Tickets in 2011 after closing their famed El Bulli restaurant, and this high-end tapas restaurant was instantly one of the hardest reservations to get in Barcelona. Tickets, which is located in the fashionable Poble Sec neighborhood, still books up two months in advance but you can book reservations online.

Once there, you'll find none of the pretension you might expect from a Michelin-starred restaurant with such a pedigree, and there is no strict dress code. Maybe that's because the restaurant has a whimsical theme that is part circus, part cinema, with the staff dressed in usher-inspired uniforms. The à la carte menu of oysters, tapas, and shareable plates is also illustrated with cartoons, and the prices are much lower than you would expect at a place that routinely makes the list of the top 50 in the world. Tapas start around $6 each while large plates start at around $20.

Order: The most striking flavors come in just one bite — the restaurant is famous for spherical "olives" that explode in your mouth (these were staples at El Bulli as well) and puff pastry filled with manchego foam known as "airbags." End the meal with ice cream made tableside — a cart is wheeled out where the chef mixes chocolate, cream, and olive oil together with nitrogen, which surrounds the cart in white smoke.

Address: 164 Avinguda del Parallel, ticketsbar.es

Chefs Ferran and Albert Adrià opened Tickets in 2011 after closing their famed El Bulli restaurant, and this high-end tapas restaurant was instantly one of the hardest reservations to get in Barcelona. Tickets, which is located in the fashionable Poble Sec neighborhood, still books up two months in advance but you can book reservations online.

Once there, you'll find none of the pretension you might expect from a Michelin-starred restaurant with such a pedigree, and there is no strict dress code. Maybe that's because the restaurant has a whimsical theme that is part circus, part cinema, with the staff dressed in usher-inspired uniforms. The à la carte menu of oysters, tapas, and shareable plates is also illustrated with cartoons, and the prices are much lower than you would expect at a place that routinely makes the list of the top 50 in the world. Tapas start around $6 each while large plates start at around $20.

Order: The most striking flavors come in just one bite — the restaurant is famous for spherical "olives" that explode in your mouth (these were staples at El Bulli as well) and puff pastry filled with manchego foam known as "airbags." End the meal with ice cream made tableside — a cart is wheeled out where the chef mixes chocolate, cream, and olive oil together with nitrogen, which surrounds the cart in white smoke.

Address: 164 Avinguda del Parallel, ticketsbar.es

Montadito with salmon, honey, and yogurt at Quimet y Quimet
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2. Quimet y Quimet 

It's standing room only at this tiny spot in the Poble Sec neighborhood, where only about 15 people can slide in at a time (and there can be a wait for a space). Despite its small size, there is a sizable menu of tapas and montaditos (small, open-faced sandwiches) and a collection of wine, vermouth, and liquor that stretches all the way to the ceiling. Glasses are filled as soon as the doors open at noon, with house wines starting at around $5 a glass. The restaurant has been in the same family since it opened more than 100 years ago, and it's a good place to refuel if you are planning to walk up to the museums on Montjuïc — from here it's about a 20-minute walk to Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and the Fundació Joan Miró.

Order: The montadito of smoked salmon, yogurt, honey, and truffle oil has the perfect balance of sweetness, and the simple presentation of sea urchin and peeled shrimp lets the natural flavors shine. 

Adress: 25 Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, no website

It's standing room only at this tiny spot in the Poble Sec neighborhood, where only about 15 people can slide in at a time (and there can be a wait for a space). Despite its small size, there is a sizable menu of tapas and montaditos (small, open-faced sandwiches) and a collection of wine, vermouth, and liquor that stretches all the way to the ceiling. Glasses are filled as soon as the doors open at noon, with house wines starting at around $5 a glass. The restaurant has been in the same family since it opened more than 100 years ago, and it's a good place to refuel if you are planning to walk up to the museums on Montjuïc — from here it's about a 20-minute walk to Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and the Fundació Joan Miró.

Order: The montadito of smoked salmon, yogurt, honey, and truffle oil has the perfect balance of sweetness, and the simple presentation of sea urchin and peeled shrimp lets the natural flavors shine. 

Adress: 25 Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, no website

Bar Pinotxo at La Boqueria
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3. Bar Pinotxo

The most relaxed time of day to visit the iconic Boqueria market is around 8 am, when the vendors are setting up and shoppers are still waking up. While some of the colorful stalls may not be up and running yet, some of the restaurants within the market open early to cater to the delivery people and locals looking to grab a bite before heading to the office. Head to Bar Pinotxo, where the charismatic bartender will be happy to pour you a glass of cava well before noon.

Order: If you want to start the day with something sweet, ask for a xuxo — a cylindrical fried pastry that's filled with cream and dusted with sugar. For an authentic local breakfast, order a plate of chickpeas and sausage or chipirónescon mongetes (beans with baby squid).

Address: 466-470 Mercat de la Boqueria, pinotxobar.com

The most relaxed time of day to visit the iconic Boqueria market is around 8 am, when the vendors are setting up and shoppers are still waking up. While some of the colorful stalls may not be up and running yet, some of the restaurants within the market open early to cater to the delivery people and locals looking to grab a bite before heading to the office. Head to Bar Pinotxo, where the charismatic bartender will be happy to pour you a glass of cava well before noon.

Order: If you want to start the day with something sweet, ask for a xuxo — a cylindrical fried pastry that's filled with cream and dusted with sugar. For an authentic local breakfast, order a plate of chickpeas and sausage or chipirónescon mongetes (beans with baby squid).

Address: 466-470 Mercat de la Boqueria, pinotxobar.com

Bar Cañete
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4. Bar Cañete

Barcelona's Raval neighborhood can get very touristy (it's right off Las Ramblas), which makes this spot a find. The sophisticated space has a long bar where you can grab a seat in front of the open kitchen and peruse the menu of tapas as well as larger dishes, known as raciones

Order: Dishes here incorporate local flavors and ingredients. Sample a selection with the Iberian Delight — a full plate of pork, smoked sardines, and onions. 

Address: 17 Carrer de la Uniò, barcanete.com

Barcelona's Raval neighborhood can get very touristy (it's right off Las Ramblas), which makes this spot a find. The sophisticated space has a long bar where you can grab a seat in front of the open kitchen and peruse the menu of tapas as well as larger dishes, known as raciones

Order: Dishes here incorporate local flavors and ingredients. Sample a selection with the Iberian Delight — a full plate of pork, smoked sardines, and onions. 

Address: 17 Carrer de la Uniò, barcanete.com

Vermouth from Casa Mariol
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5. Casa Mariol

After you have toured the Sagrada Família, head away from the throngs to this quiet café and vermouth bar just a five-minute walk away. The restaurant is owned by Casa Mariol vineyard (located in Catalonia's Terra Alta region) and one corner is devoted to barrels of their wine and vermouth. You'll see a steady stream of locals coming in to fill bottles and exchange neighborhood gossip with the proprietor.

Order: Pair a glass of the house vermut negre with olives stuffed with mussels and slices of fresh-made coca topped with sardines and roasted red and green peppers.

Address: 442 Carrer del Rosselló, casamariol.com

After you have toured the Sagrada Família, head away from the throngs to this quiet café and vermouth bar just a five-minute walk away. The restaurant is owned by Casa Mariol vineyard (located in Catalonia's Terra Alta region) and one corner is devoted to barrels of their wine and vermouth. You'll see a steady stream of locals coming in to fill bottles and exchange neighborhood gossip with the proprietor.

Order: Pair a glass of the house vermut negre with olives stuffed with mussels and slices of fresh-made coca topped with sardines and roasted red and green peppers.

Address: 442 Carrer del Rosselló, casamariol.com

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