When my family came to visit me in Spain, we decided to spend half of a week in big cities and a couple of days in the smaller town of Girona. About an hour north of Barcelona, tourists flock to this destination for its infamous cathedral, featured in Game of Thrones. We thought this would be a fun place to visit, not knowing much else about the city beyond the sightseeing attraction. We discovered quite a bit more about what makes Girona special through our quest for good food.
1. Market mischief Mercat del Lleo
Of course this is numero uno on the list! Mercat del Lleo was a great food market about 10 minutes walking from the cathedral. While, at time, the contrast in friendliness was noticeable between Girona and the usual southern Spanish cities I’ve visited, that changed at Mercat del Lleo. Everyone was helpful and happy to answer my many, many questions! One of the butchers even let us sample pig ears! Okay my family may have thought this was an unfriendly move considering they weren’t the biggest fans. For me, however, I LOVE pig ears and they were mad tasty!
Additionally, the woman working at the Bellapart stall, which sells an exceptionally unique and useful selection of spices, was awesome. She put up with my indecisiveness as I struggled to definitely answer ‘algo mas?’ (Any more?) I grabbed some black salt, green curry powder, red curry powder and wasabi powder (which is super rare to find for cheap in Spain). One of the stalls offered local, organic dairy products and happily explained everything on display to us.
2. Syrian Pastries at Pastisseria Palmira
Pastisseria Pamira: Carrer Ballesteries, 12, 17004 Girona, Spain
3. Argentinian empanadas at Volver
Alright, so I’m not an expert in the area of regional distinctions in empanadas, but these were some of the best empanadas ever! The pastry dough with Argentenian-style is softer and lighter, whereas the Spanish-style empanadillas are crispy and more bread like, less dough-like. However, these empanadas in Girona were soft, fluffy, flaky and stretchy. The fillings were insane too. The chicken empanadas – which I actually haven’t come across in Spain – reminded me of awesome central and south American food for the first time in so long. The sobrasada empanada and caprese empanada were also to die for. I would absolutely recommend grabbing some of these to walk around with while exploring the city.
Volver: Carrer de la Cort Reial, 13, 17004 Girona, Spain
4. Wine. Wine. Wine.
This especially pertains to any readers, who, like myself, had not ventured to the northern part of Spain before. The selection was completely different, with a majority of the options at restaurants we visited being of Catalonia and France.
Definitely get a bottle to bring home after everything closes down to enjoy on your terrace. Always wine on the terrace.
5. Plaça del Vi
On our first night, we stopped in this place because the menu looked interesting and progressive. Sitting down, we realized we were in for a gourmet meal. Upon a bit of research while waiting for our meal, I found that Plaça del Vi was a Michelin Guide restaurant.
I had a duck confit with poached pears and purple potatoes. My mother had a potato au gratin quiche which sounded simple, but was actually beautifully towered in a display of impeccable plating. My brother had a squid sherry soup. This was one of the best and most unique meals I’ve ever had.
It’s no surprise that the wine was unbeatable, given the owner of this Michelin star eatery is also a sommelier. While the wine we initially ordered was no longer available, our somolier brought out another similar bottle as the same price, which we appreciated. Plaça del Vi 7 was an experience I’ll never forget.
Plaça del Vi 7: Pl. del Vi 7, 17004 GIRONA