We'll let you in on a secret: Girona is magnificent but it's not a cheap city. And that's especially true when it comes to eating. It's just one of the inconveniences of being a place renowned for gastronomic excellence. Having said that, there are a few pockets of opportunity, restaurants of all types, that offer daily set menus at very reasonable prices. Places where the price-quality correlation is optimal. The common denominators are: cooking that's Catalan, home-made, fresh, seasonal and, of course, made with lots of love.
It's only been open since the end of 215 but we really encourage you to get to know La Braseria dels Químics – you're sure to love it. With a kitchen that's open all day, the best time to go is at lunchtime for the set menus created with home-style and grilled dishes made with fresh, local ingredients, which are their speciality, along with snails. While the daily set menus are very varied, if you go, it's worth asking staff for their recommendations – they'll let you in on the secret about which dish the chef has done best that day. What's more, they have options suitable for coeliacs and people with different kinds of food allergies. And the price can scarcely be bettered: €9.50.
It's been two years since Carla and Michel opened this small eatery on C/Ferran Agulló - the main focus is grilled meat and vegetables - and they've already gained themselves a loyal following. Each day they offer an extensive set menu with five starters and five main courses to choose among. What's more, the set menu includes a drink and dessert or coffee for just €10. This place stands out for its simplicity and good taste in terms of the interior design, and wonders have been done in a space that in other hands might have ended up much less appealing. They do breakfasts and, if you organise it in advance, they'll also do dinners for groups.
It was 26 years ago that the emblematic Bar Stop closed down and was converted into a place to sample high-quality cheeses and Iberian cured meats, with the 'belota' ham (ham made from pigs that have been fed acorns ('belotas') to improve the flavour of the meat) deserving a special mention. This ham is still El Racó's jewel in the crown, but the business has evolved and today it's one of the best restaurants in the city in terms of quality and price. Care has clearly been taken in selecting quality products and the best Iberian delicacies, and creating home cooking along with offering an extensive wine list. The set menu is based on home-made dishes, which may not be overly sophisticated but are created using fresh, seasonal ingredients, and are totally delicious. It's essential that you let yourself be advised by Manel.
Jordi Armengol is the man responsible for this small miracle, located on Plaça de Catalunya just by the Pont de Pedra. They work with fresh, local, seasonal products, and from Monday to Friday they offer a set menu that includes a drink, two courses and dessert, and the dishes are always very varied. One of the pluses about +Cub is their speed, serving the starters and mains almost at the same time. This is because, so they say, they want customers to eat well and quickly at lunchtime, without having to resort to a sandwich, so that they feel satisified at the end of it and afterwards have enough time to digest their meal before going back to work. In addition, on the +Cub website, you'll find details of the set menu each day so you can choose what you want in advance – if you do that and order it online, the first drink is on them.
Traditional, seasonal Catalan cooking is the trump card at El Cabrit, the restaurant that opened on January 11, 1999 by Narcís and Mònica, in the premises that once housed the iconic Ferrari pizzeria. Ever since, the reputation of this inviting restaurant has only gone from strength to strength, in part thanks to its excellent daily set lunch menu. For €13.50 you get to enjoy a complete meal (if you add coffee, it'll cost €14) made up of six starters and six mains to choose from, including the likes of soups, salads, meat, fish and vegetables, grilled or stewed, four different desserts, bread, and water, wine or soft drink. You can't really go wrong with that.
This restaurant is now in the hands of the fourth generation of the same family. Can Marquès opened in 1920 – just in front of what would later become the Mercat del Lleó – making it one of the longest-running restaurants in the city. The closeness of the market has a clear influence on its cooking, which is based on local, seasonal ingredients. They stick to certain rules when it comes to their lunchtime menus: Thursday is rice day, and on Wednesdays in winter, 'escudella' soup and accompanying 'carn de olla' (meat cooked in the escudella) will always be on offer. The chef, Imma, puts together set menus with three starters and three main options, as well as delicious desserts. Salad, soup or a hot dish for the first, and fish, meat or stew to follow, with organic yoghurt, baked apple or the assortment of home-made cakes for dessert, along with a drink, bread, olives and coffee – all for €14.50.
Just its location is enough to make a visit to The River Café worth it - situated in front of one of the most famous bottoms in Girona (the sculpture known as 'the bottom of the lioness', or 'el cul de la lleona') and the basilica of Sant Fèlix. However, if we add that you can go there for something to eat or drink from 9am until the early hours of the day, that they play great music, and that they have various food and drink menus, you'll doubtless already have stopped reading to get going there. The kitchen stays open throughout the day, so you can try their famous kebabs ('fletxes' or arrows) at any time, and you'll also find a menu of food suitable for celiacs. If you just want to have a drink you can choose between more than 60 types of beer and around 30 gins. Oh, and if you want, you can go there with your best friend, because they also welcome pets!
Can Vidal moved 15 years ago to its spot under the arches on Plaça Miquel de Palol, because it had grown out of its original premises in the face of demand from locals who had become loyal clients over the previous 16 years. In this welcoming spot the speciality is home cooking that's made using fresh ingredients and with a set menu that, they're proud to say, is never repeated: 'We change our dishes in line with the ingredients that we have, and never repeat a menu from one week to the next.' You can choose between four starters, three mains and home-made desserts, as well as a drink. All for the amazing price of €10. Unbeatable! The bonus, which we recommend you don't miss under any circumstances, is the Galician octopus 'tapa'. Vidal himself is from Galicia, which means that you can have total faith in this spectacular delicacy.
Just over six years ago, in one of the most beautiful and picturesque squares in Salt, Plaça de la Vila, better-known in the town as Plaça de les llúdrigues (Otter Square), where today stands the restaurant El Petit Racó, there was a popular pub. Since the bar closed, Racó's chef, Carles, goes every day to the square to buy ingredients for his cooking. He claims, rightly, that the best products are the seasonal one, especially the vegetables. Artichokes at the end of winter, peas and beans, and all fresh, nothing frozen. Grilled meat is one of El Petit Racó's fortés, and the set menu they offer includes four starters, three mains and three or four desserts to choose from, as well as a drink, for just €11. Let Carles make suggestions – he knows what he's talking about.
In just three years, Roser and Albert have taken a business in Pont Major that was on its last legs, and turned it around to such effect that they now serve around 100 people each day. Their set lunch menu is varied, mixing fresh ingredients with others that Roser, who's in charge of the kitchen, has cooked in advance. The set menu is usually made up of a green salad as an appetiser, four starters and four mains to choose from, plus dessert. All for €10, from Monday to Friday. If you also want a proper breakfast, the kind you need a knife and fork to eat, theirs are starting to win a great reputation: pork cheeks, churrasco, tripe and more. The secret of their success, according to Roser, is the good atmosphere and the partnership she has with Albert, who's in charge of the dining-room.