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For many a gourmet, Girona is first and foremost the location of El Celler de Can Roca, one of the most famous and acclaimed restaurants in the world, at the top of the World's 50 Best Restaurants List for 2015. However, it is not necessary to book with the Roca Brothers if you want to eat well in Girona: this city of around 90,000 inhabitants – a one hour’s train journey away from Barcelona – is actually one of the finest historical town centres of Catalonia and an authentic top foodie destination.
So, here are our recommendations for getting good eats in Girona, even without a table reserved in your name at El Celler de Can Roca.
LOW COST LUNCHES AT OCCI’S
From the railway station of Girona you cannot help going in the direction of the city centre: just 10 minutes on foot. Once you get to the right bank of the river – across the Eiffel Bridge, yes that same Eiffel – there’s plenty of choice. Among the bistros offering good value for money, especially at lunchtime, Occi is well worth a visit; it is located in a little street off one of the main avenues, Rambla de la Libertat. This is a small venue with particularly attentive dining room staff.
If it’s lunch you’re after, try their Menu del Dia consisting of a starter, main course and dessert for 19 Euros, along with a little snack offered by the house. The menu is a lighter and more appealing version of Catalan cuisine; don’t miss their salted cod dishes (there is always one on the menu) and you will certainly not regret ordering a potato flan with sausage and pork either.
c. Mercaders 3, Girona, 17004
MAKE A SNACK OF THE BEST PATATAS BRAVAS IN TOWN
As you head for the old city centre, follow the direction of the dizzily high Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona and you will probably come across Konig Sandwiches, a venue that is perfect for warmer days with its numerous tables set out of doors. As well as the bocadillos it is absolutely worthwhile tasting their Patatas Bravas.
Why here in particular? Simply because they seem to be the best in town. Unquestionably outstanding or, as they say at König’s "without compare".
c. Font de l’Abat, 23 Girona
For a FINE DINING DINNER
Very close to Occi stands Nu, an extremely refined restaurant with a creative menu. After El Celler de Can Roca it is here that a gourmet will find his nirvana in Girona. The cuisine is Catalan with delicious Asian and international influences, such as the Ceviche de Corvina with fish roe. It goes without saying that it is better to book but there are plenty of tables so you may try your luck by turning up at the last minute. Nu shares its management with the Massana, Girona’s other great restaurant with a Michelin Star to its credit.
c/ Abeuradors, 4 Barri vell
Tel. 972 225 230, Website
APERITIF IN THE JEWISH QUARTER: VERMOUTH OR WINE?
If you are looking for a nice place for a drink, either before or after dinner, stop off in the Jewish ghetto; this quarter also houses an amazing Catalan design centre. Take a walk through the splendid courtyards skirting the narrow streets and then crown it with a good Vermouth. As in Barcelona, here too you will find the so-called Vermoutheries, bars offering aperitifs and after dinner drinks together with tapas, beers and cocktails.
A good choice is El Vermutet, with its young and informal atmosphere. For something more substantial, and especially if you are after some fine wines, there is Simfonia, a wine bar with a few simple yet extremely tasty dishes for eating in company. Try their cheese selection: there are over 80 varieties for teaming up with anchovies, tomatoes and ham. There is also a small store selling select wines, cheeses and all sorts of gourmet foodstuffs.
C. Bonaventura, Carreras i Peralta, 7 - Girona
Plaça de l'Oli, 6 Girona
A final tip
If you have to choose a day on which to visit Girona, remember that Saturday is also Market day, a triumph of flowers and colours. Also bear in mind that early in May (from 7 to 15 May in 2016) the city holds its Temps de Flors, that is to say, the Flower Festival with installations to see all over town.