And here we are, the final part of the summer summary, thanks for sticking with it. As I have said before there may be some of you out there wondering if you can afford a holiday this year. Have a look at your budget, if you get the right flight and accommodation you can have a few days here and you’ll spend a lot less than you would do if you stayed at home. Especially if you follow some of the advice from this and other entries on the blog.
This entry is all about the scran and the swally two of my favourite places and a round up of a few places I’d recommend for lunch.
8 Monumentally good swally and scran If you have taken my advice about the tour bus then it will stop right outside the door of Bodega Monumental . Bodegas are normally very, very basic bars where they sell their wine and vermouth from the barrel. Monumental does that and in addition is far from basic and sells some absolutely sensational food.
It isn’t as cheap as some of the places I have recommended but it’s far from prohibitively expensive. It’s a fine place to take a break from the bus trip or if you are at Pl Espanya for the magic fountains stop in for a post fountain snort. A couple of their tapas, bravas and bombas and a couple of glasses of vermouth for example won’t break the bank.
The surroundings are grand and the staff wear old fashioned white tunics so it will feel quite opulent. (Even a Scottish bloke sitting on the terrace with his huge dug doesn’t ruin the experience). One thing to look out for is a picture on the wall of Sagrada Famillia when it was first being built. If you’ve already been to the cathedral you’ll be interested in how much the area has changed
9 Where to eat and meet meat I make no apology for plugging this place. The fact it’s owned by a family we’ve known our whole time in Barcelona is irrelevant.
The Malandrina in Barceloneta has become something of a phenomenon. Everyone in the area knows about the “steak and potato place”. Let me make one thing clear. This is NOT a fine dining experience, don’t get dressed up and plan to spend a few hours enjoying the ambiance, it’s a get in, eat dead animal and get out type of place. In summer spend some time on beach, in winter take a walk on the sand and then head here for some erm..steak and potatoes. I recommend the vacio and creamed potatoes but the strip steak and mixed grills would also be worth a go. Hell, it’s all good. I should also mention that the chimichurri sauce they plonk on your table when you sit down is bloody addictive.
The reason the malandrina has become such a phenomenon isn’t just based on the food, it’s the price. The vacio is 8.50€ and the “entrecote” is 10.50€. I’m struggling to think of anywhere in the city that can match this value for money.
I have to say my usual routine is that I visit the Malandrina on my way down to beach spend a couple of hours on my ribs in the sand and then pop in on way back for a beer and some of their “tapas”. They have sausage, black pudding and steak available tapas style and with lashings of the chimichurri it’s fantastic so if you find yourself passing the door and you are not that hungry then the tapas option is worth exploring
In short, if you are on a budget and near the beach, get stuck in.
10 And Finally…. Blah blah blah Menu del dia, great value etc. etc. By now I’m pretty sure you can all fill in the blanks here. So here is a list of a few places that I’d heartily recommend for lunch.
Pl Espanya. If you are around this area, mebbes shopping at Las Arenas or planning to visit the Olympic stadium then a visit to Kikiriki should be part of the plan. The food here is all home made and while not the cheapest menu del dia (10€ during week and 14€ at weekends) the quality of food and the surroundings make it worthwhile.
Pl Univesitat Wandering around Ramblas area will almost certainly bring you within a couple of minutes of Pl Universitat and ideal for a lunch avoiding the suspect quality and prices of the places in and around the Ramblas. Incidentally,I’m not saying they are all bad, some places like Crema Canela just off Pl Reial are great but most of them are overpriced and as I am also tired of saying this blog is aimed at the “on a budget” demographic.
Two places worthy of your custom are Aribau 3 and La Catedera both a couple of minutes walk from Pl Universitat. Good wholesome food, well presented and again round about the 10€ mark. What can possibly go wrong?
There you have it my “Top Ten” recommendations. In truth I could have done a top 20 or top 50 such is the ACENESS of the city but while having a guide is handy I’d urge you go for an explore on your own. Every area, even Barrio Gotico can have it’s own hidden gems so don’t be scared to strike out on your own. One piece of advice you often hear from “seasoned travellers” or “blowhard arseholes” as I prefer to call them is “never eat anywhere that has photos of the food outside”. This is utter bullshit. I spoke to the owner of one of the places I’ve recommended and he explained that with the mix of tourists now coming into city, Russian, Chinese, Japanese etc. that having menus in various languages is a challenge and photo menus are the simple solution. So take THAT Mr “There’s this divine little fish restaurant in Belenga Chutti that you simply must visit”
I hope you find this useful and hopefully it might have convinced you that you can afford a few days away from the struggle of the 9 to 5 grind. There are tough times for most of us and as my mate Sam used to say “You can’t wear your sensible hat all the time” so if you have a wee bit of spare cash, this is as fine a place as any to spunk it away.