Soda & Swine is possibly the first restaurant that I went to twice in one day. Soda & Swine consists of two parts. The menu is based on four kinds of meatballs with different sauces you can eat a la carte, on a slider or as a sub. The menu is supplemented by such standards as mac and cheese and fries, but also has unique offerings such as roasted chick peas and polenta, Next door is Polite Provisions and they have wonderful creatively flavored cocktails for the evenings!
The modern design of the Soda & Swine is lovely. The cafeteria style dining room is open to the sky yet enclosed on the sides. Polite Provisions was an old pharmacy and they’ve kept the old fixtures but modernized it a bit The effect is beautiful. Be sure to pay a visit to the bathroom and pay special attention to the floor!
If you decide to date a Spaniard, there’s a good chance his family will cook Spanish food for you at least once a week. These are some of the dishes they will force feed you, and you won’t hate it! Pan con tomate, jamon carts, paella indoors and out, fish and more!
Brasserie Flo: Carrer de les Jonqueres 10, Barcelona
If you have a special event coming up, possibly like Valentine’s Day you should reserve a table at Brasserie Flo! Be sure to purchase it with a discount as it can get quite expensive. Starters are each about 14€ and the main plates are around 20€. So make sure you visit this fancy place on a special anniversary.
The atmosphere is lovely and quite different than the other restaurants in Barcelona’s gothic neighborhood. It’s a warm and welcoming, spacious environment. The waiters are in suits and make you feel right at home and quite fancy!
The best appetizer was the “Timbal de setas de temporada y huevo pôché” meaning grilled assorted mushrooms with an egg on top with a crunchy eggplant chips drizzled in honey. It was quite filling and a wonderful blend of flavors.
The best main dish was the “Medallones de magret de pato con chutney de mango” and it was heaven on earth. Four big hunks of duck topped with a sauce made with mangos, berries, cranberries, and peach. It tasted just like Christmas! The fish was also quite tasty it had a creamy bechamel sauce with spinach. We were too full to try too many desserts, but the “Crêpes suzettes flambeadas” crepes were amazing and so sweet! In conclusion, check this place out if you’re feeling fancy!
El Japonés can be found on one of the most darling streets in the Eixample: Passatge de la Concepció. El Japonés is one of three restaurants housed in the building, part of the Grupo Tragaluz. The decoration is modern with a Japanese feel and is clean and beautiful.
The sushi rolls are each outstanding. You can’t go wrong when you order but keep in mind the portions are quite petite. You take your order on a checklist which is fun, and makes sure you get exaclty what you ordered. You will be pleased with whichever plate you order, they’re all colorful and delicious.
The best thing on the menu which you’ll need to save room for is the maki dessert. They essentially make a thick chocolate crepe and wrap up a creamy mascarpone filling. They then slice them and arrange them to look like sushi, topped with powdered sugar. They’re amazing.
The chocolate wrapping is not overly sweet and the mascarpone cheese just melts in your mouth. It’s such a lovely and creative dish. I highly recommend the restaurant even if you only order this dish, it’s a must visit.
The sushi rolls are around 10€ each, so it’s easy to spend 30€ or more a person. So this isn’t somewhere to eat each night, but definitely give it a try!
Siena is just a one hour train ride outside of Florence. The views out the window are beautiful and Tuscany’s countryside is not to be missed! Siena is a hilltop city, which can mean a lot of walking, but if you enter from the train station through the mall you can take several escalators to avoid some hill climbing.
The day we were there was misty and wet but still lovely. Siena is so quaint and picturesque, it’s as if nothing new was built there in hundreds of years. We had some delicious pizza for 2€ a square at Menchetti. Siena’s tiny roads are each unique and worth wondering down as many as you can. Plan to spend a few hours here and try to plan your train ticket back as they only come once an hour.
Florence was already my second favorite city, but visiting it with a loved one makes it about a million times better. We stuffed our faces with spectacular Italian pastas, pizzas & the glorious Bistecca alla Fiorentina. We saw gorgeous art, enjoyed the immense Palazzo Pitti, and stayed in a great GowithOh apartment. We got really good at ordering “due cappuccinos” and telling anyone and everyone “Buon Anno” meaning Happy New Year!
Our favorite restaurants were Vini e Vecchi Sapori, Trattoria Katti, and finally Pensavo Peggio which we visited twice. These were all very authentic Italian food restaurants. It seems the Italians know that Italian food is the best and they have very few establishments with other cuisines.
New Year’s Eve in Florence is like a giant street party. The entire city, young and old, were out drinking in the streets and dancing to jazz concerts set up in each plaza! There were even tents set up selling beer and drinks in the streets, oh, and fireworks too.
As midnight approached we moved toward the Arno River as that seemed to be “the spot” to watch fireworks. The fireworks had been plentiful throughout the night but at 12:00 there was silence. Around 12:06 a few fireworks went off. (I guess the Italian’s run on Spanish time too.) They had just gotten a little excited and used up all of their fireworks earlier in the evening.
In the absence of fireworks everyone left the little riverside plaza we were squished into and began to head home. My Spaniard was acting weird and insisting we stay in case more fireworks appeared. He asked how long we had been dating and other weird questions and began to unzip his jacket. He continued to profess his love, got on one knee for a moment and asked if I liked what was in the box. I said yes. (I really liked what was in the box.) We kissed and cried, then watched a few more fireworks and headed back to the dancing plaza. As we walked away he realized in his nervousness he hadn’t ever said “Will you marry me?” but I got the point.
Well that was obviously the conclusion to the best vacation of my life and quickly moved Florence up to the top destination on my list. I highly recommend that everyone visit Florence! The historical beauty and the love in the air is overwhelming!
El Filete Ruso: Carrer d’Enric Granados 95, Barcelona
El Filete Ruso is another great find on the pretty and petite Carrer d’Enric Granados along with Cup & Cake. The restaurant is decorated in a cute and trendy way and the staff is pleasant and helpful. They serve gourmet burgers at about 9€ each so this is a great find for an inexpensive and filling dinner. Their food is all organic and locally grown and they’re fans of the “slow food movement” which is rare in Barcelona. And we like it!
They have some great starters like potatoes with apple all-i-oli topped with crumbled bacon. bacon. The onion rings are fantastic and you’ll love the barbeque sauce that comes with them. They taste like America and it was a perfect place to celebrate the 4th of July.
As you can see we’ve tried quite a few burgers here. The favorites are the “Montana” which has bacon and barbeque sauce this is the most American. The other favorite has Iberian jamon on it which is Spain’s National treasure. The jamon goes nicely with the meat, the rucula lettuce and cheese. We haven’t found one burger yet that we do not enjoy and we’ve nearly tried all ten!
The dessert of choice is this little ball of chocolate mousse. It’s called “the lice” in Spanish, I suppose because it looks like a little bug. (?) I think a nicer name would have been “chocolate lady bug” if it needed to be named after a bug.
With desserts and beers you will end up paying just under 20€ per person, (€€) so it’s a great deal by our standards! Enjoy!