We started our trip spending our 1st night at The Serras Hotel in Barcelona, which we highly recommend. It was a very laid back and chic boutique hotel located in the heart of The Gothic Quarter. We were immediately greeted with Cava (Spain’s very popular sparkling wine) and homemade chocolate. The staff made us feel right at home the entire time. Our hotel room was immaculate, spacious, and well decorated. They even left us a bottle of champage after we let them know it was our anniversary.
For any interior design fans, the detail in this hotel was amaz. The rooftop pool and bar were definitely a highlight of this hotel. The pool was small which was fine because the views overlooking the marina were fantastic, and the restaurant/bar were excellent. It almost had a Scotsdale, AZ vibe with its’ trendy yet earthy atmosphere, serving items like wheatgrass shots and wellness smoothies.
Our first night in Barcelona was probably one of the best nights of the whole trip. We had no plans besides eating dinner at Sensi Bistro at 6:30pm (we obviously didn’t get the memo that people don’t go to dinner until 9pm). We had the entire restaurant to ourselves, which in hindsight, was actually amazing. It was this quaint little tapas restaurant off of a cobblestone alley, with tiny wooden tables, and Spanish servers with overalls and man buns – not a bad sight. With jet lag in full effect we went straight for the cocktail menu. My husband ordered their classic Old Fashioned, and naturally I ordered homemade Sangria. The servers were very helpful in guiding us through the menu, explaining each tapa in detail. The tapas were so delish here, we ended up coming back to this restaurant multiple times.
So here is what we recommend (I apologize in advance. We ate some of these dishes faster than I could take a photo):
If you’re a cheese lover like me, you need to get the assorted cheese platter with marmalade under the Classic Tapas section. The one thing I didn’t realize was how good Spain’s cheese is. In fact, if I could have fit a whole wheel in my luggage, I probably would have.
Under the Vegetarian Tapas, the Sicilian style eggplant is to die for. I have spent time in Italy, and both my husband and I have Italian families, so eggplant dishes aren’t new to us. However this is hands down the best eggplant dish I have ever had in my life. Under the Meat Tapas, we ordered the classic fillet of beef with red wine sauce served with mashed potatoes (pictured below). The fillet was cooked to perfection, and was complimented very well with the mashed potatoes and red wine sauce. If you’re a mussels fan, then the mussels with Normandia sauce (fresh cream, garlic, parsely and white wine) is your pick. It’s a bit heavy but totally worth it. Again, I think this dish made it to our ‘top 3 best mussels dish’ we’ve ever had. It is full of flavor and extremely well balanced. Lastly, if you’re not sick of cream sauces yet, then the fresh truffle ravioli in parmesan cream, scented with truffle oil is a MUST. This dish (pictured below) is the kind of dish where you just throw your hands up in the air, and think to yourself ‘I’d be okay if this was the last meal I’ve ever had in my life’.
After we rolled out of the restaurant, we sought after another drink, as the evening was just getting started in Barcelona. With no particular restaurant or drink in mind, we wandered the streets until we came across Zim (Carrer de la Dagueria, 20, 08002 Barcelona, Spain).
This was your classic hole-in-the-wall Spanish wine bar – where dreams are made. We walked inside and it was this tiny dimly lit cave-like bar with minimal seating. The bartender and everyone included did not speak any English, and my immediate reaction was ‘we are not welcome here’. Luckily, my husband is braver than I am and just sat down. With only a few options available (wine, cava, and vermouth), we both ordered a glass of dry red wine, and tried not to stick out like the sore thumbs that we were.
The bartender offered some amazingly delicious warmed homemade bread, topped with fresh chorizo spread. Again we were throwing are hands up at the amazingness (yes it’s a real word) of this snack. We topped it off with another glass of wine and then headed on our way.
The last stop of our evening was El Xampanyet. I had researched this place a long time ago and jotted it down as a go-to place in Barcelona. However, I neglected to write down any detail about this particular bar, so we were going in blind. The word ‘bustling’ was an understatement. With zero expectations and several libations deep, I’m pretty sure we just stood staring for a good couple minutes, trying to understand the chaos. Everyone was elbow to elbow, yelling orders at the bar, while the servers raced around, trying to appease every customer. I still remember one of the servers stepping from behind the bar and into the crowd, asking for everyone’s name and order. With no pen or paper in hand, she walked back behind the bar and placed all 15 orders, remembering everyone’s names and orders. It was magic.
Once we realized how awkward we were being, we placed two orders of Cava at the bar, both believing we were just going to stop in for a quick drink. As we sipped our Cava, we soon realized as people ordered around us, that if we were going to stay at the bar we were going to have to order some food. Omg, more food! After getting a few recommendations from a lovely Irish couple standing next to me, I ordered Padron peppers, and prawns. They were absolutely delish – shocking I know. Both dishes were only lightly seasoned, yet tasted so flavorful and fresh.
This is the one thing I will miss about Spain. Nothing tasted reheated, processed, or made 100 times that night. Every dish felt like it was made especially for you.
There is so much information to share about our trip to Spain! There will be more Spain blog post coming, but in the mean time, I hope you enjoyed this post and can use it as a reference when planning our own trip to Barcelona!