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El Balco Restaurant

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Belfast
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467 posts
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El Balco Restaurant

Hi

The weather in Northern Ireland is so bad I have resorted to looking up restaurants for our family holiday in July. Darren has given me plenty of "food for thought". However, El Baco, an Argentinian Restaurant, looks my cuo of tea as I love meat. Is it good ? expensive?

Thanks

Mck

Girona, Spain
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1. Re: El Balco Restaurant

It is good if that type of your menu is your taste, big lumps of meat and hearty salads. Personally and for the locals it is busier in winter than summer as the cuisine is heavy for a warm day. Don't let the inauspicious front door put you off, not particularly welcoming, but once you go inside it is a very nice and modern room with good service, many of the staff have been there a good few years. If you are a self confessed meat lover then this is perfect for you, although I also had a very nice goats cheese with puff pastry salad as well. Not cheap but won't break the bank. Centrally located, near Hotel Ciutat.

Belfast
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467 posts
117 reviews
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2. Re: El Balco Restaurant

Thanks Darren.

I posted the message because it does not appear to have a review on Tripadvisor. Which is a little suprising. We are staying at Hotel Nord so I think it should be close by. I hope you do not mind, but I might send you my restaurant selections before I go in July, which will be largely based on your previous posts, just to see if you still think them good choices. You can do a lot of eating and drinking in seven days!

Thanks again, you are such a good site member and ambassador for Girona.

Mick

Girona, Spain
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3. Re: El Balco Restaurant

It is very close, literally around the corner when you turn right out of the Nord. I think the lack of reviews is because not many tourists go, it doesn't help itself as it is literally a closed door to the street, you can't see inside and there is no menu outside, it couldn't put off/intimidate tourists more if it tried!! It is actually very nice and welcoming inside though, I and the locals tend to be more into smaller dishes so never packed and you mind find it quiet in summer due to lack of seating outside and type of cuisine but, as I say, if you like that type of food you will enjoy it.

Happy to review your other choices - general rule of thumb is avoid the restaurants on the walk up to the cathedral - they are touristy and not great value (although the bar literally at the foot of the cathedral steps is great for a drink). Rest in the old town and around Plaza Independencia are usually fine.

Thanks for the kind words. Often visitors only come to Girona for 2-3 days and I want to make sure they have a good experience and encourage them to visit for longer, a week including a few trips to other places nearby, is about right.

Belfast
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467 posts
117 reviews
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4. Re: El Balco Restaurant

Thanks Darren. We will probably do a couple of day trips. Maybe Figueres. I might have to go to Barcelona for the sake of my daughter. She has not been but my wife and I spent a week there a few years back. Any other suggestions? I am a history teacher my daughter is 14 my wife likes shopping. Not an ideal combination. Thanks yet again

Mick

Girona, Spain
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5. Re: El Balco Restaurant

Don't like beaches? In July, most people tend to head for the beaches? Will you have a car?

If you have a car I would recommend St Marti D'Empuries, ruins for history teacher, best beach on Costa Brava, nice laid back village with cafes and small shops, plenty of shady wooded areas.

I would also do a northern Costa brava trip by car, taking in Pals(shops/old hilltop town),Perratallada(restaurants,shops and historic village), Begur (classy shops and nice atmospheric square)and Llafranc(up market seaside town with very French feel).

Figueres is so close by high speed train, 15 mins, so would get up early to avoid queues and visit Dali museum, but make it a half day trip as rest of town nothing special.

I would always slip in a day in Barcelona as so close by train and such a special place would be shame to ignore.

Belfast
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467 posts
117 reviews
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6. Re: El Balco Restaurant

Thanks for that advice. We will not have a car but are happy to use public transport.

Will be in touch

Mick

Belfast
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467 posts
117 reviews
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7. Re: El Balco Restaurant

Hi Darren,

Hope you keeping well. If you remember, a while back, you said you would give heads up on a few restaurants I have selected for our trip to Girona. I have to be honest; picking them has been no easy task. Firstly, due to the sheer quality and secondly keeping all of us happy and content with our different tastes. In other words I am trying to be fair.

I am an adventurous eater, beef cheeks no problem. On the other hand my daughter is conservative, beef cheeks, not a chance. My wife is somewhere in the middle. However, we all do like restaurants that have an authentic feel. I do not want to spend the earth either.

So, below is what I have come up with, in no particular order. Please be as blunt as necessary.

1. Mon Oncle

2. Tauerna Urtau

3. Bubbles Gastrobar and Restaurant

4. R27 Burger Bar

5. La Tagliatella

6. Zanpanzar

7. Tasca Galega Esconxuro

8. La Vedette

9. Restaurant Turc El Bosforo.

I love to go for a beer before dinner. Any suggestions for Spanish type hole in the wall bars?

Thanks again

Mick

Girona, Spain
Destination Expert
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8. Re: El Balco Restaurant

Here goes:

Mon Oncle - fairly new french owned, catalan food and good wine. Very friendly owner and staff, plenty of outdoor seating and neat mismatched furniture inside. Good choice but I find portions a bit small. It is in heart of the old town, well located. I would probably do drink at La Pedra, pinxos at Artusi, meal at Mon Oncle.

Taverna Urtau - started off promisingly but recently service has been awful. Basque food which I do like but I am now not a fan of this place

Bubbles - bit naff and location not popular. Don't bother with this one.

R27 - never been, not a big fan of burgers. Tends to be a young crowd, Girona's version of McDonald's basically. On Ramblas, I probably would sit at one of the many cafes that are located outside rather than sit inside here. Location more a lunch stop than dinner.

La Taglietella - chain but feels like it is family owned. I like this place a lot, good food, decently priced, always popular. No outside seating but good air-con.

Zanpanzar - a definite, basque rather than catalan but no trip to Girona is complete without visit here. I would drop by early doors and book a table outside for later.

Esconxuro - my personal favourite, well made Galician food. Good as both a beer stop and to eat.

La Vedette is better known as Creperie Bretonne, good decor, basically many and varied crepes so if all of you are happy with that then is a good choice. I prefer the one near Hotel Llegendes. Can also get a post meal drink at Sunset Jazz Bar next door which often has free live music.

Never been (heard of) the Turkish bar. Asked around and none of my friends know it. Is a little walk out of town and not particularly scenic part of girona so doubt it is worth the detour.

A couple you don't mention but well worth checking out are:

Le Bistrot (pizza (catalan style)) amazing setting on steps of old town, very French tiled shabby chic interior, great service and food

El Jardins de la Merce, menu can be up and down but beautiful enclosed garden make it a good choice, go for a drink even if don't eat

Maguey if you like Mexican/spicy food

On the bars, I understand what you refer to but in the summer months these bars don't have the atmosphere you are probably expecting, more buzz about them in in colder months.

The nearest you will get, and where I go for the sort of drink you mention, are La Pedra and Esconxuro but you will find most pre-dinner drinks are taken with outdoor space (which these both have). They also, in summer tend to be busier later rather than earlier. For an early drink try La Bodega, actually not a bar but a shop that serves drinks up to 9.30pm, centrally located near Zanpanzar in the old town, customers spill over onto the street outside. Try lizaran, as plaza independencia, is a great place to sit outside, pinxos are good there also (but not main meals). The Catalan bar is also very popular there with a younger independent (in more ways than one) crowd. As a drink and/or eat you might also like River Cafe. Very scenic outdoor seating in shadow of Sant Feliu church, plus extensive and varied (a bit touristy) menu. One bar you must go to, probably after rather than before dinner, is El Circle. No outdoor space but great "proper" bar, often is live music at about 11pm. Not grungy though, good cross section of age groups can be found there.

Hope this helps.

Darren

Belfast
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467 posts
117 reviews
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9. Re: El Balco Restaurant

Hi Darren

That is a great help. Have added le Bistrot and Jardins de la merce to the list and got rid of the ones you thought might not be so good. Mexican place and Artusi sound great too, will try them for certain. Also thanks for the advice about the bars. Makes sense that people will be outside. Really like the idea of La Bodega. We are there for seven days and have eight restaurants to try. It will be fun.

I am glad we did not take the breakfast option in the Hotel, it gives us even more avenues to eat in different places!

So thanks again for your kindness, I will tell you how we got on in a report on Girona when we return.

Mick

Belfast
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467 posts
117 reviews
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10. Re: El Balco Restaurant

Hi Darren,

One last question. We arrive on a Monday in July and will of course go out for dinner. Is Monday quiet? If so where would you think, bearing in mind, your previous suggestions, would be a good bet. I would hate to have our first meal in a restaurant with no people or atmosphere. Perhaps I am unduly concerned.

I promise this is last question.

Mick