Located on the west side of La Rambla, and just around the corner from the Güell Palace, Louro serves traditional Galician cuisine. The monochromatic butter yellow tones of the interior of the restaurant are a welcome calmness from the hectic tourism right outside its door. And there are several rooms with tables placed spaciously so no one feels cramped or crowded. Speaking with proprietor Rubén Bermudez he shared with me some of their patron’s favorite items on their menu.
“Some of our most known dishes are the lobster rice, the toast of smoked sardine with Cebreriro cheese and tomato and onion compote and the baby scallops with parmentier (potatoes) and pork jowls.”
Personally, I love the Galician Bay mussels with yellow curry and bay leaf oil. The mussels are so fresh and plump and are laced delicately with the curry and bay leaf. They explode when bitten into creating a Mediterranean dance in your mouth.
Looking over at the couple dining next to me, I fear I was drooling watching them devour the suckling pig cooked at low temperature with chestnut cream and apple purée. They were also enjoying the creamy mushroom risotto with ‘tetilla’ (a soft buttery cheese.) Noticing my staring, one of them smiled and gave me a thumbs up saying, “It’s the best risotto I’ve ever eaten.” And his companion said, “I could eat here every night of my life.” How’s that for a recommendation?
My dining partner had the scallops and I was lucky enough to savor a bite, which truly was spectacular. As I ’m known to do, I held off from ordering an additional serving. But next time I visit Louro, I’m ordering the scallops with parmentier and pork jowls… twice! Rambla del Caputxins 37. Tel: +34-937-30-8280. www.lourocgb.com
A couple of blocks east from the famous pedestrian walkway La Rambla, is La Fonda. It is the first restaurant of the Grupo Andilana franchise. A great choice, especially for lunch, this restaurant is an old standby and loved by locals as well as tourists. Open and airy, the décor is beautiful. They have an extensive menu offering everything you’d expect from an upscale Mediterranean restaurant, but they are famous for their “rice” dishes. The seafood paellas are tried and true classics. Enjoy their Paella de Marisco consisting of Norwegian lobster, shrimp, mussels, and clams. You won’t be disappointed. And even for this foodie who has no “sweet tooth,” the dessert crepe, is to live for! A delicate and thin crepe is topped with whipped cream, strawberries, dulce de leche and hot chocolate. Lunch at La Fonda, consisting of a three-course meal with wine is one of the best dining options when exploring La Rambla. Carrer dels Escudellers, 10. Tel: +34-933-01-7515. www.andilana.com/en/locales/la-fonda-3
RAO RESTAURANT & COCKTAIL BAR
Located just one block west of La Rambla in what is called the Raval neighborhood is Raó, a beautiful restaurant and cocktail bar. The restaurant’s décor is a combination of authentic Catalan architecture with a modern slant. There are three areas: a spacious and open sitting area with comfortable sofas and marble tables, the bar, and then there’s a private dining room decorated with paintings, including a print of Salvador Dalí’s Noia a la finestra (The Girl at the Window).
Specializing in gourmet tapas, Raó is run by a young, professional, and creative team. It’s exciting to watch them work via their open kitchen. Like an exceptional Broadway musical, each member knows their part and plays it with all their heart. All ingredients are locally sourced and seasonally influenced. Along with their gourmet tapas are platillos, medium-size dishes perfect for sharing. In Catalan Raó translates into “reason” and here are just four very strong reasons to dine here.
I love their pan seared scallops with toasted cauliflower purée, Iberian pancetta, black Chanterelle mushrooms and artichoke. Perfect little pillows of deliciousness.
Try their volcanic coal grilled octopus leg, creamy potato with paprika and Kalamata olive emulsion. The volcanic coal offers a hint of smokiness to the fresh and tender octopus.
Another popular tapas is the sautéed sea bream, with foie gras, grilled avocado, romesco sauce and garlic aioli foam. But what’s truly exceptional is Rao’s cooked roast beef served chilled with mustard ice cream, pomegranate, and fennel. Yes, mustard ice cream! It’s pungent flavor dances beautifully with the sweetness of the pomegranate and the anise flavor of the fennel. It’s sounds really out there but with the perfectly cooked roast beef, it’s heaven. As the team says, “We use only the best seasonal products to plate creative modern delights based on a variety of Mediterranean and traditional local dishes.” Carrer de les Sitges 3. Tel: +34-93- 11-93-169. www.raobcn.com.