Eating in Barcelona: Part I

Being the family that we are, we’ve all been looking forward to the food in Barcelona. I mean, Cora asked for salami and green olives for her second birthday party. This part of the world aligns very well with our family palette.

Almuerzo a Enrique Tomas

Enrique Tomás de Glòries

We reached Barcelona in the middle of the day and immediately we didn’t have a US->European power adapter for Amber’s CPAP. Oops! Fortunately, a shopping mall, Glòries, was in walking distance of the hostel. So our first expedition was a Spanish mall. 😂 A mall is a mall, and although plenty of the brands were unfamiliar, it gave the whole family a sense of familiarity.

Why is this in a blog about food in Barcelona, you might ask?

The lower level houses a space called El Mercat. It’s filled with small shops and stalls with higher-end food products. We stopped at Enrique Tomás for jamón, chorizo, olives, and lemon Fanta (which the children are obsessing over). It hit the spot and covered it in salty, cured goodness.

ARTEspañol

Friday we viewed our first flat on Avinguda Diagonal (more on flat hunting in Barcelona soon…. you know, once we’ve found one!) Obviously the effort left us hungry, and in the whole week we hadn’t yet sampled that Spanish mainstay: paella.

A quick search nearby turned up ARTEspañol. I don’t know whether it’s particularly authentic–felt a little touristy, lots of bull fighting decor–but wow was it the meal we needed at that moment.

They had kid-sized paellas with chicken that after minor prompting the children inhaled. Amber and I split a larger paella with chorizo and pork ribs. The richness of the rice, that lovely crispness. Yum.

I look forward to trying a seafood option next time. I’ve also had the Valencia (rabbit, snail, and chicken) recommended by my cousin Hannah. Clearly, there’s more paella in our future, and the future is bright!

Shaka & Shack

I’ve heard lunch is often the big meal of the day here, and that’s been working well for the family in the July heat. Thursday we set out to visit New Relic’s office in Eixample, but first we needed lunch. Along the way to the Metro we’d spotted a restaurant with signs reading “Burger Bar.”

Personally I’ve found hamburgers to be a hit or miss when traveling in Europe. By the same token, much of that experience was a couple decades ago (eek!) in the UK. When Amber suggested we try lunch at this Burger Bar, I agreed with reservations in my heart.

My concerns proved unfounded. The place, actually called Shaka & Shack, had nice juicy burgers alongside small portions of thick fries. To my delight, mayo and ketchup were both offered with these fries. Apparently Amber didn’t know my deep love for mayo and fries, probably from my time visiting Belgium. So good.

The staff was friendly and helpful. All around I’d go again, and given the proximity to the hostel it seems very likely to happen.

Wonder when the cease and desist from a similarly named large burger chains in the States is coming, or if this corner of Barcelona is distant enough to avoid the litiginous corporate eye. 😰

More to Come

This first week we’ve mostly explored with a focus on finding a flat. All the walking, figuring out transit, etc. has stretched the family’s energy. By the time we need food, dining out or searching for cool places has been out of the question. As we settle in more, expect more Eating in Barcelona reports!

Exploring Barcelona

The plan for the week was exploring various parts of Barcelona to prepare for renting a flat. Overall it went well. We also learned a lot about our family limits for tramping around in the unaccustomed heat!

TwentyTú

That first afternoon we taxied to the hostel we’re staying at, TwentyTú. This has proven an economical way to settle for a couple weeks while we sort out the flat.

The staff has been super friendly and helpful. There’s TV we can hook our new Nintendo Switch up to, much to the children’s joy. There’s free WiFi, much to the adults’ joy. It’s walking distance from a major shopping center, which has proven key for obtaining the stuff we didn’t pack. It’s even a long walk from some of the neighborhoods we wanted to visit, and a shorter walk to the Metro (aka subway).

Nearby is the Torre Glòries (formerly Torre Agbar), a convenient landmark to navigate by. Cora calls it the Tile Tower because although the picture doesn’t capture it, it’s quite colorful.

On the walk to the store we found a cool playground space. Because of course, what you need when on foot is a way to run around more.

Playground near Torre Glòries

The hostel has also let us start acclimating to a smaller space, since the room is basically a hallway width in front of bunk beds 😉

Gràcia

Gràcia is a neighborhood north of the city center. We explored it on our first full day out. It’s got a lot of the classic feel of Barcelona, without as much bustle and traffic as the city center.

A long walk through the neighborhood, and we could easily see ourselves living there. The number of parks around impressed us. In particular we relaxed in Parc de les Aigües. Not only did this have shade and multiple play structures for the kids, it also sported green parrots chattering wherever we went!

A green parrot in Parc de les Aigües

We stopped for food along the way, some basic cured meats. It was there Asher discovered he loves boquerones (anchovies) with vinegar. Really he just gobbles them down! He’s not keen on his pictures being public, but there’s a great video on Facebook if you want to befriend either of us.

As our first full day exploring, we overdid things significantly. The kids were done by about 3/4 of the way through the 5 miles (8 km) of trooping.

El Poblenou

The next neighborhood was El Poblenou, aka the new village. Further east of the city center, it’s out of comfortable walking distance of New Relic’s office in Eixample, but a quick Metro ride away. Learning our lesson from Gràcia, we planned out a much shorter walk.

Poblenou definitely maintains the feeling of a smaller village in the big city. We walked down the lovely Rambla del Poblenou, a calmer alternative to the larger Les Ramblas in central Barcelona. One flat we’d seen online was right on the ramble, and it was easy to imagine ourselves living there.

Cora en la Rambla

“That is hard work for me to hold it that long.”-Coraline

El Poblenou’s other big attraction is the beach. The Rambla runs right down to the Mediterranean sand, a mere 5-10 minute walk.

The kids absolutely loved the beach. The water was cool, but comfortable to play in for a long time. Such a change from the Oregon coast! It also afforded our first major sunburn of the trip.

Eixample

In the latter half of the week we dropped in at New Relic’s Barcelona office to say hello and check out the area right next door. Emerging from the Metro, Amber immediately ooh-and-aah’d at the surroundings. This was all the charm, architecture, and urban feel she’d been imagining in Barcelona.

This being our third neighborhood exploration, we tightened up the routine. Basically we were sold already, so we just visited DelaCrem, an exceptional gelato shop our friend Aitor had recommended (heartily agreed!) The only question with Eixample is whether finding the size and noise profile we want in the hub of the city.

“Ew, tourists”

Bussing from Eixample home proved a good plan. Although I find it less direct than the Metro, it helps the kids engage more seeing the city versus cruising through dark tunnels.

Three Neighborhoods, No Answers Yet

This week has yielded a better feel for our new city. All the neighborhoods we visited definitely met the criteria we’re looking for… now to visit some flats and actually find a place to live!

(Small administrative note… we’ve been using Marco Polo to keep up asyncrhonously with friends. If you’ve on there (or want to be!) send us a message. It’s like Snapchat for families and grown-ups)