Do you have a to-do list? I do. Mine gets longer by the day. It’s written neatly (shout out to Mrs. Mitchell for perfecting my penmanship) but its contents stir untold anxiety as they become more numerous by the day. For no fewer than 2 years, “Create Barcelona, Venice, and other city guide pages” has been at the top of this litany and in spite of the best intentions, I haven’t gotten around to crafting detailed and SEO-rich pages dedicated to these cities. I hope some day I will, but in the meantime, I will use this page to collect my favorite places to eat and drink across the globe. Be sure to visit my City Guides main page for advice on where to dine and drink in Rome, Istanbul, Tokyo, NYC, and more. And of course, take a spin on my clips page for recent articles and guides published in English language publications in the US, UK, and Australia.
One of my favorite places to eat in BCN (or anywhere) is Bar Cañete. I grab a seat at the bar and watch as the chefs flawlessly execute grilled meat and fish and vegetable dishes. Tied with Cañete for my favorite place in Barcelona is Bar Brutal, an incredible natural wine bar pouring the most delicious vino from Spain and abroad.
Every visitor to BCN heads to the Boqueria market at least once (though often it feels like every single tourist in town is there at the same time). Take a spin through the stalls and have a snack at El Quim and Kiosko Universal.
La Cova Fumada in Barcelonetta is a great spot for cod and awesome cheap seafood dishes served to standing diners (many fishermen among them) at the bar or to seated visitors. While you’re in the neighbohrood, check out the nearby Mercat de la Barcelonetta. This market, as well as Mercat de Santa Caterina a 20 minute walk away, make a great contrast with the super touristy Boqueria.
Along the sea northeast of the center, a number of fish restaurants specialize in paella, a Valencia specialty. I like Xiringuito Escribà on a Sunday when the place is absolutely slammed with groups of friends and family. Order a paella or fideuà cooked with seafood.
Some nice (if touristy) old school spots are Passadis del Pep and Cal Pep. Both are great for tapas and Catalan specialties.
Cervejaria Ramiro is wildly popular with locals and visitors alike so be prepared to queue most evenings–you can pop inside to the bar for beers to accompany your wait. Go in a group so you can try lots of beautifully prepared and gently cooked seafood.
Taberna Da Rua Das Flores is a delightful institution.
At Sol y Pesca it’s all about quality canned fish
’A Ginjinha in Largo São Domingos 8 near the Rossio Metro serves the local sour cherry-infused spirit by the shot. For an extra special buzz, order it with a side of boozy cherries. Nearby, Beira Gare serves home-style fast food. Their bifana (sautéed pork sandwich) is cheap and delicious. Ditto for the prego.
Pastéis at Pastéis de Belém tops every list of recommendations I had for Lisbon’s pastry shops. Located near the cathedral in Belém (at Rua de Belém 84 to be exact), this pastry shop sells egg custard tarts. Patrons queue up for the local specialty and the line moves fast.
There is a full Palermo guide here, but the other places on the island that I love include Caffe Sicilia, Il Crocifisso, and Dammuso in Noto, I Rizzari in Brucoli, San Giorgio e I Drago and Cave Ox on Mt. Etna, and in Catania: Fud, Fud Off, Achille e Davide (horse steaks on via del Plebescito!), Le Tre Bocche, and of course, the fish market near the Duomo. Sicily is an amazing place and a massive island with incredible agriculture. That said, some of the restaurant food is mind bogglingly disappointing. People generally eat at home and cook, transforming fresh ingredients into tasty dishes. If you can, rent an apartment with a full kitchen to make the most of the wonderful ingredients Sicily has to offer and to avoid the all to frequent restaurant disappointments!
I recommend Enoiteca Mascareta, Al Covo for fritto misto and a very good grappa selection, Alla Testiere where everything is very good, Bottega Ai Promessi sposi for snacks like sarde in saor (marinated sardines) and baccala’ mantecato (salt cod spread), Alla Vedova which is an institution for snacks like fondo di carciofo (artichoke hearts) and polpette di carne (meat croquettes).
One of the many perks of a 35-city book tour includes never being hungry. As I criss-crossed the United States and Canada in support of Tasting Rome, I got to explore all sorts of incredible regional North American cuisine, cocktails, and craft brewing. Aside from a few sad airport breakfasts, I loved the food on the road and am excited to share my favorites with other hungry travelers so I made a goofy Google map featuring some highlights for dining and drinking–there are a few book stores in the mix, too! Check out this page for more.
Go to Jareon Saeng for braised pork knuckle and be sure to get there before 9 or 10. Klong Teoy Market was fun to see but messy so wear shoes you don’t mind trashing. For the best experience, visit in the early morning. Such a rad market. Check out one of the spots in chinatown like Tang Jai Yoo or T&K. I enjoyed the drinks at Q&A and Teens of Thailand. Boonsap is super central and a great choice for mango sticky rice.