Every tourist to Barcelona will visit the Sagrada Familia. And when you are done with the sights, you usually move away from that area because the food was pretty crap. Not anymore, you can always make a detour to La Paradeta.
La Paradeta is a seafood market that prepare your seafood a la minute after you buy them from the counter. There are many branches all around town (and near familiar tourist spots like Parc Güell) but this branch near Sagrada Familia is the largest and the best chance you will get a seat without waiting forever.
How they work
There’s a counter will all the catch of the day which you order from – no, you cannot pick them, a person behind the counter will take the amount for you. Their English is limited, but fortunately, you can see what you want and body language is OK. Just tell them how many of you are in the party and order away. Also, the prices are marked clearly on the counter, you pay only what you order.
Also there’s no minimum to what you can order. Like for me, I just asked for a handful of squid, one spanner crab, one langoustine, two sea prawns, three oysters, a bunch of mussels. That’s it, they weigh it and ask you how you want each to be cooked and prepared, pay for it and wait for your food.
Then you pick your seat, it’s free seating so be sure you grab somewhere near the self service counter if you are alone. Barcelona is famous for pickpockets and thefts, so you should not leave your stuff to chope the seat. I can guarantee your stuff will be choped by others. Remember to order a couple of freshly shucked oysters, they are prepared at the counter and you can start the meal with oysters and cava (Spanish sparkling wine, only 3€ a glass), or in my case, a cold beer 2€. BTW, the water cost as much as the beer.
After that you wait for your number to be called and you collect the food from the little service window. Be nice, please clear away the stuff after the meal. This is a self service restaurant after all.
There’s no jámon or meat dishes. There’s a couple of soup and salads, and that’s it. The feature is the seafood on offer. It depends on the catch.
Farmed oysters from the Spanish coast. At 1,90€ each, they were quite a bargain as they were really fresh. The oysters were creamy and saltish, but not metallic, which I like.
The Spaniards call them Buey de Mar or “Sea Ox”, which is basically a brown crab common in the Mediterranean. I asked for a cold female crab, like every good Teochew would, and it was served with a stuffed shell (Relleno, meaning stuffed) of chopped lettuce with their house spicy mayonnaise. There was enough roe in the shell to give the lettuce salad a real kick. The price is dependent on how big the crab is. The price was written on the shell. At 7€, it’s a bargain.
Meijillones (“Mussels“) al Vapor (“Steamed“) was done simply by steaming really fresh mussels and serving them with au jus. You don’t even need the lemon wedge.
A little surprise came from one of the mussel, a bunch of little baby mussels. Everyone of the little baby was cooked and opened, and you really can’t bear to eat them.
Rejos de calamar or “Squid Tentacles” are sold seperately from Calamari rings. If I have the choice, I love the tentacles more than rings. And because every squid only has one set of tentacles, this was going for 22€/kg or 5€ for this portion. This was a great treat with the cold beer.
Gamba Plancha were done with a parsley olive oil glaze on nicely grilled prawns. The goodness was all in the head of these delicious prawns. 40€/kg or 5€ for the two I picked. Remember, everything is sold by weight, so don’t waste by ordering too much. Again, the price was not cheap, I guess because it was a popular choice, hence the price.
Cigalas (Spanish), Scampi (Italian) and Langoustines (French) refer to the same species Nephrops norvegicus, also known as “Norwegian Lobsters” or “Dublin Bay Prawns” or just referred to as prawns in parts of Scotland. They are roughly the size of a large crayfish and fished from silty bottom regions of the open Atlantic Ocean, and parts of the Mediterranean. The fleshy tail is closer in both taste and texture to lobster and crayfish than prawn or shrimp.
I ordered a single Scampo (singular for Scampi) for 8€ (47€/kg), which was not cheap given that lobsters were only going for 30€/kg and they give more meat per €. But I liked the texture and sweetness of langoustines, I find them more delicate than lobsters.
They open quite late (1 pm, Spaniards eat their lunches late and then go off for siestas), but be there at least 15 min before opening time. Else, the queue will start forming. The price is really reasonable. And also, they break for siestas.
In Singapore, we are quite blessed with great seafood, but if you are in the Mediterranean, you are equally blessed with great seafood of a different kind and cheaper because of their distance to the source and a weak Euro. All these I picked for 38€, there’s enough food for two persons if you are a small eater. But what the heck, I was on a one meal a day diet (jet lagged 🙁 ) so I needed all the protein.
La Paradeta Sagrada Família
Passatge Simó 18
Tel. 934 500 191
Acceso: Sagrada Familia (L2, L5)
Date Visited : Jun 2018
PS: 5 Types of Shellfish to eat in La Paradeta
Spanish mussels. Probably one of the most famous types of Spanish seafood. While French mussels are yellowish, Spanish ones tend to be orange (the color actually depends on the kind of algae they eat). The best way to taste all their flavor is eating them steamed. But don’t hesitate to try them if instead you are offered them cooked “a la marinera“: a light sauce made basically with onion, garlic, white wine, tomato and parsley. Yum!
Cockles. Known as “berberechos” in Spanish and “escopinyes” in Catalan. They are served canned without the shell in bars as an aperitif, sprinkled with lemon, red pepper and/or vinegar sauce. In seafood restaurants they are served with their shell, steamed or sautée.
Clams. “Almejas” in Spanish or “cloïsses” in Catalan. They are a bit bigger than cockles, and their shell is less curved and less rough. They can be served in many ways, but again the most popular one is “a la marinera“. They are common ingredients of paella and other Spanish seafood dish specialties.
Razor clams. In Spanish “navajas“, in Catalan “navalles“. Their shells are thin and fragile, and they can measure up to 23cm, although the most common size is 12 and 15cm (around 5 inches). These long and narrow clams, together with cockles, are some of the favorite canned Spanish seafood to order during the vermouth time. If you prefer them fresh, they are best grilled or sautée.
Tellins. Called “coquinas” in Spanish and “tellines” or “tellerines” in Catalan. You’ll recognize them for being small, flat and with a smooth surface. They are very common in the South of Catalonia, where they are protected inside the Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park. Order them sautée with chopped garlic and parsley, and pair them with a glass of white wine.