Postcard From Tom: Barcelona
Be prepared to lunch at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and dine no earlier than 10 o'clock at night in Barcelona, a city that takes its food -- and siestas -- seriously. Among the choice destinations:
PINOTXO (Mercat de la Boqueria, 011-34-93-317-1731)
After exploring the myriad stalls of the world-class Boqueria food market, plan to refuel at the counter of this charming, open-air tapas bar, which gets its name from the storybook character Pinocchio. Visitors need only look at what their neighbors are eating for a quick but immensly satisfying snack: chickpea salad, tomato-rubbed bread, maybe fresh prawns grilled just feet in front of you. About $10 per person.
RESTAURANT MOO (Rossello 265, 011-34-93-445-40-00)
Some of the most tempting food in Barcelona can be found here, in the chic new Omm Hotel, where chef Felip Llufriu dazzles his audience with warm foie gras soup (contrasted with cool cubes of wine jelly), roseate pigeon, cod lapped with garlic sauce and -- fashion alert! -- a dessert designed to smell just like the Incanto fragrance from Salvatore Ferragamo. (For comparison, my waiter waved a perfume card beneath my nose.) The interior, looking onto an enclosed forest of bamboo, strikes equally modern notes. Six-course tasting menu $70.
RIAS DE GALICIA (Lérida 7, 011-34-93-424-81-52)
"The king of all seafood!" trumpets my server as he places a plate of goose barnacles on the table. Luscious as it is, the delicacy faces plenty of competition in the restaurant's pristine oysters, head-on shrimp and garlicky baby eels (served with tiny wooden forks so the threadlike fish won't slip off the tines). The ocean-fresh ingredients represent the best of what's local, and while they come at a price, you'll be dining in grand style: The wood gleams, the chairs encourage long meals and the wine list runs rich. Entrees $20-$40.