Saturday, 10 September 2016

Barcelona Foodie Favourites

Ok, so let me just start this post with a little warning. This post does not include any recommendations for paella. I know, it's a cardinal sin but it's just not something I'd go for and as Juan is vegan he didn't want any either. However if you like a burger, cocktail or tapas, then do read on and know that this post caters for vegetarians/vegans as well as meat eaters.

Online research told me that Bacoa is dubbed as the best burger in Barcelona, the same research taught me that there are a l o t of bars and restaurants serving the humble burger so that this must be a pretty huge claim. On our first evening after a long day, we found there was a Bacoa branch pretty close to our hotel (the one by Barceloneta beach) and made a quick decision to suss out if it lives up to the legend.
The Hamburgueseria is quite basic in appearance, but that's OK. There was a small section to sit inside and a section under a canopy so diners can also sit outside. Making the most of the warm summer evning, we went with outside. The only downside is the stools aren't terribly comfortable but the speed at which we inhaled our food meant that didn't matter too much - we weren't there for long.
To order, you just have to fill in one of their cards which lists all the different burgers and additional toppings and take it to the counter. There is beef, chicken, lamb, veggie (blackbean pepper and cream cheese patty) and vegan (chickpea spinach patty) options. I plumped for the beef burger with manchego and squealed with glee to find 2 of my favourite things, ever, were available as toppings - caramelised onions and...TRUFFLE MAYO. I'm fussy when it comes to vegetables so had my tomato and lettuce removed. Although there is no vegan cheese option, Juan was just chipper with his "Gran Vegano". On the sides front, they offer skinny fries and rustic chunky potatoes, available with salt or as "patatas bravas". I opted for plain potatoes and Juan went for skinny fries.
Service was quick in terms of queuing to place the order and also waiting time for it being served. In all honesty, this particular burger tasted pretty bland - the bread roll overpowered everything and I was pretty disappointed. We ended up paying Bacoa a second visit, this time to have on the beach and switched the manchego cheese for cheddar and it just all came together magnificently. The beef juicy, the caramelised onions sweet and the truffle mayo was out of this world. Even now, a month on, I find myself craving a Bacoa burger. As for the potatoes, they were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. At first glance, the portion looked small but it definitely filled me up. Juan is confident it's the best vegan burger he's ever had. Can we have a branch in England please?

I promise this post isn't solely burgers but next up is Maka Maka, a bar/cafe in between the beach and the marina and right next to one of the university buildings. As such it has a young clientele and buzzing atmosphere - a great nighttime destination particularly if you are in Barcelona with friends. Be wary though, this one gets super busy from pretty early on. Predominantly outside, seating areas are picnic style and quite long meaning you may have to share with other parties.
When on holiday, one must have cocktails, right? Maka Maka's cocktail menu strays from the norm and is made up of some original concoctions. My cocktail of choice was the deliciously refreshing "Mr Clooney" - gin, homemade lavender syrup, fresh lemon, grapefruit juice and soda. I also had my eye on the "Big Lebowski" whose ingredients included coffee-flavoured vodka, chocolate liquer and cinnamon syrup.
Onto the food and we got the hummus threesome to start. I was intrigued by some of the unique flavours as we had beetroot, carmelised onion and pumpkin and apple and hazelnut. The first one wasn't to my taste but topped Juan's list but the latter two were delicious and tasted super fresh. Unsurprisingly the pumpkin/onion one was my favourite.
This time, I decided on the veggie burger, known as Mr Nice Guy, the homemade soya patty is topped with avocado, grilled pepper, mozzarella, alfalfa sprouts and mango-salvia sauce. Me being me, I cut the crap and had the patty, cheese and avocado. The result was a bit dry and just "OK" which I admit is my fault for taking everything I don't like out of the equation.
What are these? Oh, they're just the show-stopper of Maka Maka, their garlic parmesan fries. The portion size was massive - you could totally get away with sharing except you won't want to because they are that damn tasty.

As the name hints, Dolce Pizza & Los Veganos is a vegan eatery specialising in pizza and although other dishes such as risottos, pastas and yet more burgers were available, we both went for pizza. There was an array of different combinations of toppings available and of course the option to customise these. Pictured, is my pizza with a garlic and tomato base, red onion, spicy vegan chorizo and vegetarian, rather than vegan cheese.
As a non-vegan, I will always judge food on whether it's amazing rather than good "for vegan food" and whilst it ticked all the boxes for Juan, I found it to be just OK. Due to it's thin appearance, I was expecting authentic stone baked flavour which wasn't there and it just didn't compare to the likes of Purezza in Brighton, for example.
Dolce Pizza is quite a small restaurant and it feels hot whilst you're sat in there. The service is good, the staff are lovely and it's great for lunch. It's location is super close to Sagrada Familia and as they aren't in the city centre it would be a good idea to visit both on the same day.

As I mentioned in my Things to Do Post, there are a number of bar dotted along Barconeleta Beach and during our stay we frequented in many of these of an afternoon and evening. Our favourites of these were a couple of bars which are part of the Pantea group. The menus of La Deliciosa and Blue bar are the same. Both are open from 9am serving smoothie bowls, omelettes and croissants for breakfast and close around midnight with sandwiches, salads and tapas-style titbits served throughout the day with the bonus of a take out options, should you want it.
They also have a branch in the Gothic Quarter called Guru which could be worth a visit. My favourite food I tried off their menu was the generous portions of patatas bravas, I even had them for breakfast one day because I was on holiday and people are allowed to crazy things like that when on holiday. The Pantea group bars also offer cocktails including some of the classics like pina coladas alongside some new and interesting ones too. Both bars have TV which made for an improvement on watching the Euros in the hotel room!
Juan is a big icecream fan so on learning that there was a vegan icecream outlet in the city, we had to visit and we ended going back a second time. Gelaaati di Marco is a stones throw away from Barcelona's Cathedral and offers a plethora of dairy and vegan flavours. Juan had chocolate and coconut both times and was a massive fan.
I chose to go vegan for our first visit and chose the cinnamon flavour which was rice based and had a slightly bitty texture. It was definitely different and a nice change but I ended up going for dairy gelato on our return. The chocolate and dulce de leche were amazing, so creamy and flavoursome, it's no wonder Galaaati di Marco has so many gushing reviews on Trip Advisor and the like.

Prior to our trip, I had researched a whole bunch of restaurants and bars to visit but sadly didn't make it to every one, so was really pleased when we managed to stumble upon one of them, Petit Pois on our journey back to the airport. Should you wish to find it, it's a 5 minute walk from Placa de Catalunya.
It's cool environment was very welcomed after hauling our suitcases around for half an hour! I particularly liked that during this meal, we were the only tourists - Petit Pot is seemingly a big hit with the locals. Food-wise, you can get coffee shop-type sandwiches, salads and bakes but also breakfasts, burgers and ribs. Staff were really accommodating and willing to help Juan with vegan options.
To start, we shared this hummus dish and the orange oily type drizzle on top was similar to the pir-piri drizzle on the Nandos equivalent, but better! Super creamy and flavoursome, I need to learn to make hummus like this!
Ok, so my main wasn't all that picturesque but oh my goodness, it was unreal. Nachos piled high with cheese, guacamole, sour cream and a juicy heap of pulled pork. Probably best shared, I still managed to scoff the majority and was so glad our last meal in Barcelona was one of our favourites.

Where are you favourite places to east in Barcelona? Have you visited any of these?

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