Where to Eat and Explore in Barcelona—Sevilla—Lisbon
When it comes to summer travel—where you often only have a handful of days to get a feel for a place— you gotta balance playing tourist with living like a local. Can't miss the snapshot worthy sites, or the local approved bites. To help you with this delicate balancing act, we compiled the top spots in three European cities to get a flavorful feast for the eyes and taste buds in each town.
Cal Pep—was our first and favorite meal in Barcelona. Make sure to bring your appetite! Locals and tourists alike cram into the bar to wait for small group seats (only parties of four or more can make reservations). And let me tell you, the wait is worth it! Once you've tried a handful of their tapas, you'll want tot ry them all. Order the razor clams, fried green peppers, and octopus to start. And leave room for dessert. Every dish is rich and fresh and mouthwatering.
Casa Batllo—is one of Gaudi's masterpieces located in Barcelona. The private home was remodeled by Gaudi in 1906 with a modernism art nouveau style full of underwater symbolism and functional design. From a mosaic rooftop dragon, to a minimal white arched top floor—Gaudi left no stone unturned or un-curved. The house is an architectural dream world and worth the steep price of admission if you plan to take your time and take it all in.
Park Güell—the public park designed by Gaudi was completed in 1926 and includes sweeping views of Barcelona. Composed of gardens and architectural elements, Park Güell reflects Gaudi’s naturalist phase rooted in geometry and organic shapes. We fell in love with the pillared birds nests formed with mosaicked boulders and the concave alabaster mosaic ceiling perched above doric pillars. Most of the Park is free to the public, but you’ll have to pay to experience all of the Park’s masterful details.
El Rinconcillo—is the oldest restaurant in Spain established in 1670. Dine in for classic tapas and a taste of old school charm. Sangria and Iberian acorn-fed cured ham plus manchego cheese and a cup of gazpacho is a solid starter pack. Makes sure to ask for the English menu for added ease.
The Royal Alcazar—is a Spanish palace originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings—also known as the set of Dorne in Game of Thrones. That in and of itself was enough to make us fan girl. The ancient architecture was just the icing on the Dornish cake. Explore the expansive gardens and intricate tiled and sacred geometry carved archways for a taste of ancient luxe.
Taberna Da Rua Das Flores—this will be the best meal of your life...you may need to eat here twice (we did!) With no reservations available and a first come first serve waitlist that fills up within the first hour of opening, you will want to get here early to grab a bite. They may be open late, but they don’t push out customers to turn tables, so expect to get turned away if it’s after 8pm. That being said, the wait is well worth the effort. Once insides, you feel like you’re in on a special secret with the other customers— like its a prohibition speakeasy with the finest wine in town and you got past the zoot suit bouncer. To start, I’ve never seen a more passionate staff. They read the chalkboard menu( in Portuguese) to you in your native tongue while describing the intricate preparation for each dish. From sesame rimmed tuna to a fried crab leg bao bun spicy sandwhich to the best matled brown bread we’ve ever tasted (we asked, it’s only made in a small town in Portugal) slathered in there decadent custom extra virgin olive oil (you can even buy a bottle)—every bite will blow you mind! Oh, and they played Patti Smith and The Beach Boys as we dined. Need I say more?
Feira Da Ladra—is the largest and longest standing Flea Market in Lisbon. This bi-weekly open are market has boasted the same location for four centuries. Take a tuk tuk to avoid the steep inclines and check out the local ceramic artist shops in the Alfama neighborhood after you've snagged some vintage Portuguese treasures. It's more like a giant garage sale with some antique dealers mixed in, but if your willing to dig you can find some golden gifts to bring home.