Vacatada – Barcelona restaurant review

About once a week Fulvia has to feed the beasts in her entourage. Whether we are in Montana, the Mediterranean, or in between, her consorts roar semi-fiercely and demand MEAT. Not dainty perfectly executed protein eye candy, but big slabs of bloody beef, perfectly cooked pork, large portions of lamb, and hopefully offal for desert. She always complies and is inevitably a good sport about it.

Vacatada

Address: Carrer del Doctor Trueta, 229, Barcelona 08005 Spain— Get directions
Website: restaurantevacatada.es
Telephone: +34 932 21 57 36
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Rostra rating: 4

When the fit took Lucullus and Diodorus Siculus recently in Barcelona, Fulvia happily accompanied us to the less than fully discovered Poblenou neighborhood for a feeding frenzy at Vacatada. Located just off Poblenou’s low key and charming Ramblas that is blessedly free of projectile vomiting British bachelor parties, thieves, and touts trying to get you to sit down at their outrageously priced bad food and warm beer emporia, Vacatada is basically an Argentinian steak house transported from the pampas to Catalonia.

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It was a glorious day, and we wanted to sit outside so Diodorus negotiated with the owner to secure us the next nice half sun half shade table and we went inside to inventory the beer holdings. The interior would be a great place to hang out on a cold winter evening. The MagoGuide Montana contingent felt right at home with the cow skins tacked on the wall, the friendly waitresses slinging brewskies, and the grill bitches who, while obviously no strangers to the beer tap, turned out well-executed cuts of multiple thickness and origins with that pleasant peasant aplomb that comes with multiple repetitive craftsman-level tasks.

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Once seated outside, we started with a large plate of grilled sheep cheese accompanied by small rounds of pepperoni-like sausage. The cheese was nicely spiked with red pepper flakes and actually had more heat than the sausage. A promising beginning, especially when washed down by the house red (Elsa Bainchi, 100% malbec, 2011, Medoza, Argentina, www.volpisl.com), which had a nose of violets, black fruit on the mid-palate, and a long burnt caramel finish. From the first sip, Lucullus was convinced it would go perfectly with the incipient meat orgy.

The mixed grill (allegedly for two) arrived making it hard to find room for cutlery and other impedimenta on what had seemed like a fairly decent-sized table just minutes before. Fulvia contented herself with a salad and a few bites of meat, being careful to time her moves to the platters so as to avoid the loss of a digit or two as her carnivores moved in for the kill. The amount of meat that we were served could have fed a small wolf pack, and it kept Luculllus and Diodorus busy and barely communicative for the better part of an hour. It was composed of the following cuts:

Top sirloin: Cooked to a perfect medium rare. Beef in Europe is not as tender or marbled as equivalent grades and cuts are in the U.S., but we compliment our ungulate intake with grass fed beef in Big Sky Country and enjoy a flavorful cut with a bit of tooth to it. Lucullus decided this bovine had been fed a diet of grass and then finished with grain a week or two before slaughter.

Flank steak: The Argentines have a special affinity for this cut and they did a very nice job with it. The proof of the pudding was Fulvia’s verdict. She does not like flank steak as a rule, claiming that it tastes like fish. She had several large bites of this version and said it reminded her more of a flat iron than a flank cut.

Beef rib cut: This was no cote de boeuf. Cut thin from a yearling-sized animal, it came pink rather than a true medium rare, but we inhaled it nonetheless and clamored for another bottle of vino tinto.

Pork button ribs: Diodorus correctly identified these babies as pork. Lucullus, not to be outdone in carnivore lore, then regaled his only marginally interested tablemates as to the origin of this delicacy. Button ribs are not actually ribs, rather they are the last four to six bones on the pig’s backbone. The flesh of the “button ribs” consists of meat that covers each button bone and connects them together. The Vacatada grill bitches cooked them perfectly and they proved messily fun to eat.

Chorizo: Nothing like a little sausage digestif. Vacatada’s take on this ubiquitous Spanish banger was very good, the paprika infused juices made a very nice sopping media for the somewhat less than bakery fresh bread.

Butifarra negra: Ah but it was the blood sausage that truly won Lucullus’ heart. This sanguinary offal tube was very fresh and had a nice mineral flavor. In general, however, Team Mago (those members that will indulge in black pudding that is) has found the butifarra negra as a genre to be under spiced, particularly with respect to cinnamon, when compared with either its Gallic (boudin noir) or Teutonic (Blutwurst) brethren. This Lucullan nit pick received even less attention than his earlier disquisition on pork button ribs.

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The sides were very good as well. There were two types of potatoes. The first were par cooked whole then cut in half with the skin still on and grilled while periodically basted with a reduction syrup of red (malbec) wine, cane sugar, and cloves. They were served with the meat. These were so good that plans were immediately laid to replicate them on both Pantelleria and in the wilds of Montucky. The fried potatoes were fresh cut but rather indifferently executed. Was the fryolater guy pulling double duty as a grill bitch? If so, he erred on the right side by concentrating on the meat and the grilled taters. The Chimichurri sauce was very good, served in a bowl with a whisk (nice touch) that was sent back for refilling multiple times. Finally, we were also supplied with a small bowl of pink sea salt, another nice idea.

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Sated on meat, we were unable to muster any desire for dessert until we had walked the four miles back to Barceloneta for coffee and gelato. Rest assured, Team Mago will return to Vacatada for another protein debauch and try manfully to leave room for something sweet at the end. But it won’t be easy.

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Address: Carrer Sant Carles, 36, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: absenta.bar
Telephone: +34 932 21 36 38
Hours of operation: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 11:00AM – 3:00AM, Tuesday 6:00PM – 3:00AM, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11:00AM – 3:30AM
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Rostra rating: 4
Bar Joan
Great little value-for-money restaurant in Santa Caterina market.
Address: Carrer d'En Giralt el Pellicer, 2, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: www.mercatsantacaterina.net
Telephone: +34 933 10 61 50
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Rostra rating: 3.5
Bar Tomás de Sarrià
Considered the best bravas in this spiral arm of the galaxy, they are the unprotected sex version of this preparation. The spuds are fried to a greasy splendor and then topped with an aioli boasting an off-the-scale ratio of garlic-to-oil.
Address: Carrer Major de Sarrià, 49, Barcelona 08017 Spain— Get directions
Website: eltomasdesarria.com
Telephone: +34 932 03 10 77
Hours of operation: Monday-Saturday 12:00–4:00PM, 6:00PM–10:00PM
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Rostra rating: 3.5
Bodega Sepulveda
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Address: Carrer Sepúlveda, 173, Barcelona 08011 Spain— Get directions
Website: bodegasepulveda.net
Telephone: +34 933 23 59 44
Hours of operation: Monday-Friday 1PM to 4:30PM and 8PM to 1AM, Saturdays 8PM to 1AM, closed Sundays
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Rostra rating: 4
Cal Pep
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Address: Place de les olles, 8, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: www.calpep.com
Telephone: 310-79-61
Email: calpep@calpep.com
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Rostra rating: 5
Can Majó
This is a great little funky restaurant with fried goodness.
Address: Carrer de l'Almirall Aixada, 23, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: canmajo.es
Telephone: +34 932 21 54 55
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Rostra rating: 4
Can Maño
It's a restaurant that we enjoyed.
Address: Carrer del Baluard, 12, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Telephone: +34 933 19 30 82
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Rostra rating: 3
Can Sole
We love this place for sentimental reasons. The food is just OK and kind of expensive.
Address: Carrer de Sant Carles, 4, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: restaurantcansole.com
Telephone: +34 932 21 50 12
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Rostra rating: 2
Casa Delfin
Address: Passeig del Born, 36, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: tallerdetapas.com
Telephone: +34 933 19 50 88
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Rostra rating: 3.5
Cervecería Catalana
MagoGuide’s take on Cervecería Catalana is that despite the familial connection, you should go to nearby Ciudad Condal if you are interested in food. If you are more interested in beer, then Cervecería Catalana is the place to go.
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 236, Barcelona 08008 Spain— Get directions
Website: www.facebook.com/Cervecer%C3%ADa-Catalana-539478542770052/
Telephone: +34 932 16 03 68
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday 8AM-1:30AM, Saturday and Sunday 9AM to 1:30PM
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Rostra rating: 3
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Address: Rambla de Catalunya, 18, Barcelona 08007 Spain— Get directions
Website: www.facebook.com/pages/Ciudad-Condal/168195233218836
Telephone: +34 933 18 19 97
Hours of operation: Monday to Sunday from 8AM -1:30AM
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Rostra rating: 4
Cova Fumada
This is a real deal VFM establishment, but you have got to earn it.
Address: Barcelonetta square, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: www.facebook.com/pages/La-Cova-Fumada/167510036619950
Telephone: +34 932 21 40 61
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Rostra rating: 4
Cuines Santa Caterina Bar
This is a great bar that we have enjoyed going to time and again.
Address: Avinguda de Francesc Cambó, 20, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: www.cuinessantacaterina.com/
Telephone: +33 - 93.268.99.18
Hours of operation: 1pm to 4pm and 8pm to 23.30pm
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Rostra rating: 4
Escribà Xiringuito
Yet another of one of our all time favorite restaurants in the world.
Address: Av. del Litoral, 62, Barcelona 08005 Spain— Get directions
Website: xiringuitoescriba.com
Telephone: +34 932 21 07 29
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Rostra rating: 5
Homo Sibaris
Address: Plaça d'Osca, 4, Barcelona 08014 Spain— Get directions
Website: homosibaris.com
Telephone: +34 931 85 66 93
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Rostra rating: 3
La Bodegueta del Poble Sec
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Address: Carrer de Blai, 47, Barcelona 08004 Spain— Get directions
Website: labodeguetabcn.com
Telephone: +34 934 42 08 46
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Rostra rating: 3.5
La Medusa 73
Address: Mercat del Ninot, Carrer de Mallorca, 135, Barcelona 08036 Spain— Get directions
Telephone: +34 932 77 70 60
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Rostra rating: 3.5
La Roseta
Address: Carrer de Meer, 37, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: www.facebook.com/larosetabarceloneta/
Telephone: +34 673 81 69 76
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Rostra rating: 3
La Tomaquera
We enjoyed our meat meal here.
Address: Carrer de Margarit, 64, Barcelona 08004 Spain— Get directions
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Rostra rating: 3
Lolita Taperia
The celebrity chef hybrid Lolita Taperia is one of MagoGuide’s favorite tapas bars in Barcelona. Get seats at the outside bar area for a great view of the kitchen. The line cook when we were there was intense and very good.
Address: Carrer Tamarit, 104, local2-4, Barcelona 08015 Spain— Get directions
Website: lolitataperia.com
Telephone: +34 934 24 52 31
Hours of operation: Tuesday and Wednesday 7PM to 12AM, Thursday 7PM to 2AM, Friday and Saturday 1PM to 4PM and 7PM to 2:30AM
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Rostra rating: 4.5
Mercat Princesa
This upbeat take on a food court is great for a group that has diverse tastes. The food is good and the atmosphere fun.
Address: Carrer dels Flassaders, 21, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: mercatprincesa.com
Telephone: +34 932 68 15 18
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Rostra rating: 3
Mosquito
Mosquito is the place in Barcelona to gundge a few pot stickers and pound some decent brewkis.
Address: Carrer Carders, 46, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: mosquitotapas.com
Telephone: +34 932 68 75 69
Hours of operation: Opens at 1PM everyday but Sunday when it opens at 7:30PM, closes at 12:30AM Monday-Wednesday and Sunday, 1AM on Thursday and 2:30AM on Friday and Saturday
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Rostra rating: 3
Neapolitan Authentic Pizza
Just OK pizza for a good price.
Address: Carrer de Gombau, 5, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Telephone: 34 686 19 26 90
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Rostra rating: 2
Patxoca
Giovanni took us here for an evening of fun and good food.
Address: Carrer Mercaders, 28, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Telephone: +34 933 19 20 29
Email: patxoca@yahoo.es
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Rostra rating: 3.5
Rekons
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Address: Carrer Comte d'Urgell, 32, Barcelona 08011 Spain— Get directions
Website: empanadasrekons.com/
Telephone: +34 934 24 63 83
Hours of operation: Monday-Sunday 10AM-12AM
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Rostra rating: 3
Roman Via Sepulcral and Plaça Vila de Madrid
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Address: Plaça de la Vila de Madrid, Barcelona 08002 Spain— Get directions
Website: museuhistoria.bcn.cat
Telephone: +34 932 56 21 22
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Rostra rating: 3
Santa Marta Bar
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Address: Calle de Grau i Torras, 59, Barcelona Spain— Get directions
Telephone: +34 935 12 44 49
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Rostra rating: 3
Segons Mercat
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Address: Carrer de Balboa, 16, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: segonsmercat.com
Telephone: +34 933 10 78 80
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Rostra rating: 4
Taberna Blai Tonight
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Address: Carrer Blai, 23, Barcelona 08004 Spain— Get directions
Telephone: +34 648 73 32 00
Hours of operation: Monday-Friday 6PM - 1AM Saturday-Sunday 12:30PM - 1AM
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Rostra rating: 3
Tapas 24
Tapas 24 ain’t cheap, but it is a very reasonable way to sample Adellan’s creative take on small bites.
Address: Carrer de la Diputació, 269, Barcelona 08007 Spain— Get directions
Website: carlesabellan.com
Telephone: +34 934 88 09 77
Hours of operation: Monday-Saturday 8AM-12AM
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Rostra rating: 3
Vacatada
Vacatada is basically an Argentinian steak house transported from the pampas to Catalonia. Be prepared to eat meat.
Address: Carrer del Doctor Trueta, 229, Barcelona 08005 Spain— Get directions
Website: restaurantevacatada.es
Telephone: +34 932 21 57 36
Get more info....
Rostra rating: 4
Vaso de Oro
Once you're seated and start to order, great tapas comes your way. There is also several types of excellent beers to choose from.
Address: Calle de Balboa, 6, Barcelona 08003 Spain— Get directions
Website: vasodeoro.com
Telephone: +34 933 19 30 98
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Rostra rating: 3


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Morgan Hart

MagoGuide.com was launched in 2011 as a website and virtual storefront to showcase Patti's software and Morgan's content. Dedicated to slow travel, culinary excess, and ripping good yarns, MagoGuide is the digital scriptoria for the Mago Scrolls, Morgan's historical fiction series about the Punic Wars in general and one Mago of Syracuse in particular. Although Morgan has written a great deal of non-fiction over the years in the form of specialized journal articles, book reviews, op-ed pieces, and (his personal favorite) the most unpopular coffee table book in the history of the planet, he always viewed himself as a happily frustrated novelist. Get more information about Morgan's novel and travel writing at our Products page.