I had a great meal at Tapeo, a small Spanish restaurant started by the opening chef at Tapas 24, David Rueda. When I first walked in, I didn’t catch the resemblance, but could definitely feel the same bright modern vibe. Speaking to the chef, he had a bit of a giggle reporting to me how the white counters happen to look just like Tapas 24!
First, we had the fried rabbit ribs. Yes, rabbit ribs! At first I couldn’t believe it, and while there was very little meat on the bone, it was so good. Fancy Super Bowl party snacks, anyone?
Next we had the fried artichoke (which you can find at just about any other tapas restaurant). Apparently artichoke is fairly common on West Coast menus, but you hardly see fresh artichoke on the menu in New York so of course I ate it up.
Then came the sliced stuffed squid (the only vegetables I had the entire trip, haha). It was exactly as you’d expect from a Spanish restaurant: pure simple fresh flavor.
Next we had the beef and mushrooms. It was a slow cooked stew-like meat with a thick sauce. Delicious.
Finally on the savory side we had the foie gras with truffle, mushrooms, and eggs. Wow! It was an amazing finish with all your favorite flavors in one. We almost didn’t order it but David insisted we try his specialty.
Siete Portes was a great paella restaurant near Barceloneta (and relatively famous too!). I’m not too keen on the tomato-based paella which is so sad and unfortunate, but when you change it up with well executed squid ink, I’ll never stop! The restaurant was pretty straightforward on the up-scale bistro level and a little pricey at 28 Euros, but I will definitely be returning next time.
It is also relatively close to the Citadel Park if you want a beautiful post-meal stroll! (You’ll need it)
My first day was really rough with apartment issues, but I was able to catch La Pedrera before it closed, and see the rooftop right at sunset. If you are going to visit any of the Gaudi sights (which you must to have really seen anything), this should be your first because the mini museum inside provides a lot of context to the others.
I started off my second day at La Manual Alpargatera, the old school shoe shop in El Gotic that specializes in espadrilles.
If you look up all the places in the city you must visit to shop it is in the top ten of about every list. This is where I met my new friend, and went on to have coffee and dish about how tough and great traveling alone is (see here).
She was nice enough to walk me over to the cathedral where I discovered the most spectacular views (for 6€ to get into the church) and a local-oriented Christmas market. I don’t think Barcelona is a Christmas market destination. The markets are mostly mini nativity scene pieces, garlands, lights and simple ornaments. It was great to see but if you are looking for many unique stalls and offerings, I would head to Berlin!
I told my old school Catholic grandma about the church and she was equally shocked that you had to pay to go inside, but agreed it was just a donation. She proceeded to give me a lecture that I’m young and shouldn’t worry so much about spending if I have my savings! LOL, oh grandma.
In the early evening I headed over to La Boqueria to pickup some breakfast for the next day.
In the evening I finally landed at Tapas 24, my favorite tapas bar! (I wish you could sense my enormous amount of excitement for this place).
Tapas 24 is… AMAZING. They have your standard tapas elevated to the next level. I’m really upset that they don’t have the squid paella anymore, but the baby squid and prawns are never-fails and are ridiculously fresh. You should remember to ask for the shrimps and squid when you go because they didn’t have them when I first arrived (8p). I was asked to eat slowly for thirty minutes for when they did come! It was heaven. The squid comes with the ink still inside. They were about the size of my nose as I described in a FaceTime to home :). The shrimps are grilled very simply but they are perfect–sweet, fresh, and full of their natural flavor.
Tia Pol is supposed to be the best tapas in NYC as per Zagat, Michelin, and the likes, but I didn’t love it. Nothing really wow’ed me. (wow, so obnoxious of me to say, but true!) I get that tapas are supposed to be relatively simple with solid execution, but I didn’t find the seafood to be particularly fresh, and the other dishes were just… too simple and ordinary? Tie Pol lacked that sort of pungent flavor and freshness you were supposed to get out of the ingredients. The tomato spread over toast in Spain is so simple and relies completely on the tomato flavor, but at Tia Pol it was just plain tomato and toast. Likewise, the squid and ink with rice wasn’t particularly tender. I have to say on the contrary that the shishito peppers stood out and seemed to be a nice upgrade to the Ippudo or Mermaid Inn norms. Okay, time to return to Spain!