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Eating Cheap Barcelona - w/a kitchenette

We are going to Portugal and Spain for a 12 day river cruise/land tour this fall ending in Madrid. After that we head to Barcelona for 3 nights staying at a Citidines on Las Ramblas with a small kitchenette - refrig, 2 burner stove, toaster, microwave. I know there several great markets like the Boqueria, a large Carrefour grocery store and an El Corte Ingles nearby. We'll likely eat lunch out most days while touring but for dinner we'd like to eat in. Aside from super simple things like sandwiches, ham, cheese, olives, fresh produce, etc. I'm wondering whether there were some simple items I could cook or reheat in the kitchenette. I'd welcome some suggestions from this forums cooks. Especially if it uses unique food items from Barcelona. Thanx.

Posted by
269 posts

Since Spain is the home of tapas, I'm sure the local groceries would have many wonderful ingredients at the ready to have a beautiful meal. You have stove top accessibility, so a simple pasta using some of those ingredients in the sauce (think a Spanish putinesca) would be very easy, if you have the cookware for it. Seafood should be readily available as well, and a pot of steamed mussels or clams with tomatoes, garlic, wine and fresh herbs along with some crusty bread, would make a lovely one pot dinner. If you have a large skillet with a lid, you might even be able to muddle your way through a stove top version of a Spanish tortilla.

Posted by
2267 posts

Rentals with kitchens are a regular part of my rental strategy. But I never seem to do "real" cooking in them: between being weary from a full day, not knowing my way around a new kitchen, no basics in the pantry, likely dull knives... The most ambitious I seem to get is pasta (like the 'fresh' ravioli in the coolers) with a jarred sauce or pesto—maybe throw some canned meatballs in there.

The grocery stores will have plenty of convenience, heat-and-eat foods in the cooler section. Frankly, a selection and quality that makes this sometimes-lazy bachelor a little envious. Including pre-made tortilla de patatas! (Which every Spaniard considers an absolute blasphemy, but somehow there's still a market for them...)

Posted by
27233 posts

I didn't have a kitchen in my Barcelona lodgings, but I used that Carrefour often to pick up things like fruit, cheese and yogurt. It's spread across two floors and quite large for a center-city store by European standards. It can have really long lines. My impression was that the lines were worst at the end of the workday. They moved fast, though. Pay attention to whether there are any scales in the area of the non-prepared food you're buying. I don't remember about that particular store, but I know sometimes in Europe you're expected to weigh produce before going to the checkout.

Posters on the forum have mentioned a food hall in El Corte Ingles department store right on Placa de Catalunya. The store website lists the first sub-basement (level S1) as "groceries". I assume it's more expensive than the Carrefour, but it probably has more prepared foods. I haven't been there myself.

I have no idea whether it survived the pandemic, but in 2016 there was a good popsicle stand set up on Carrer Santa Anna not far from your hotel. It was a nice treat. Carrer Santa Anna cuts off the Ramblas one block from the Citadines in the direction of Placa de Catalunya; take the left fork.

In the past the Ramblas has been a happy hunting ground for pickpockets. Be especially careful with your possessions there. (I had no trouble while staying on Carrer Santa Anna for ten days.)

Posted by
15607 posts

The basement floor of El Corte Ingles has a huge supermarket and many stands with ready-to-eat food, from appetizers to desserts. The Carrefour in La Rambla is much smaller and I think it was a tad more expensive. The Boqueria is pretty touristy, but for a couple days it's fine. For a much better market, about 10 minutes' walk away is Santa Caterina, where the locals shop. They also have quite a bit of prepared foods for sale around lunchtime.

A 6-7 minute walk from Placa Catalunya (or 2-3 minutes from the Palau de la Musica) is Xurreria Laietana for some of the best churros ever. Via Laietana, 46 (note the hours - they close for siesta). One packet, sprinkled with sugar, is enough for two people.

Posted by
893 posts

Thanx for the help guys. I'll probably keep things simply. If I can't find prepared items to reheat we'll likely go with simple stuff with eggs (tortilla, avocado toast) or pasta.

Looking over the photos of the restaurant on the top of El Cortes Ingles the view from there is amazing. Can't wait to visit it.

Posted by
893 posts

I continued my online research and found a really great site with a list of tapas, recipes for them, guides to eating in different cities in Spain, etc. Still exploring it but the info is useful. Especially if you want to eat or buy foods and aren't sure of the spanish words for them.

The site is spanishsabores.com. The person who runs it also has a food tour business and I am in no way advocating for her business.

Posted by
30 posts

Not in your posting but do you mind sharing the name of the rental and where you found it (VRBO, Airbnb, Other)? Thanks

Posted by
893 posts

The hotel chain is called Citidines. They have many locations around the world. Someone here on the forum recommended them to me last year when we were going on a tour of France. The tour company's hotel was expensive and I wanted a backup plan in case one of us tested positive for covid and we had to remain longer. They have several Paris locations but I think only the one on Ramblas in Barcelona.

Each location is a little different as far as room types. Barcelona's has regular hotel rooms, studios with kitchenettes and 1 bedroom apartments.

I booked ours directly on their website with a rate that is refundable if our trip doesn't happen.