There may hunger, ahead...
Yes, I’m off to check out food and drink at Barcelona’s Terminal 1 : before I do, I need to warn those of you are travelling long-haul or to the UK that Barcelona’s T1 has some pretty major design errors. Remember : as the signs say at Passport Control "there's no way out of this area...".
I won’t bore you with the whole political story but the airport’s primary misión was to offer an alternative “hub” to Madrid. Strangely then, almost no floor space is dedicated to the departures area for long-haul flights (nor UK flights since these are also “non-Schengen”).. So dear reader, don’t say I didn’t warn you : once you’ve gone through Passport Control, your options come down to Macdonald’s or… Macdonald’s.
Chinese tourist, he very upset..
What’s also frustrating is that most of the “international” passengers only find this out ONCE they’ve gone inside and cannot get out again. I found a swarm of very angry chinese tourists waving their arms at the border police and shouting in Mandarin, trying to go to the shopping area .. without success.
Eating Gates D & E
The view of D Gates after passport control...
These gate areas require you to go through Passport control. If you’re planning to eat or shop (and time allows) I would suggest you follow the signs to Gates A – C and visit the enormous shopping mall and food options on the lower level. When you’re done, there is an escalator to take you back upstairs to Gates D & E – which is little more than a “holding pen” prior to boarding….
D Gates – McDonalds?
Just inside Passport Control, you’ll find a branch of Macdonald’s that (at 10am on a Tuesday morning) was packed with passengers who had little choice but to eat there. There's also a Duty Free shop so you could always buy a giant bar of toblerone and eat that before your flight - just don't sit next to me if there's turbulence!
Dehesa Santa Maria - D Gates
Finally, an alternative to McDonalds.
This little snack bar is located a long way from Passport Control at the far end of D Gates (close to D16) – it serves up “Bocadillos” (think “Baguettes”) of Jamón, cheese or cold meats and other snacks including fresh fruit platters, café con leche etc. It’s pretty busy : anyone who (like me will only eat at the Golden Arches at Gun Point) has NO alternative but to purchase here…
E Gates – It gets worse, believe me!
It get's worse, much worse down here..
From the Passport Control area, there is a little glass-walled passageway that takes you to “E” Gates on the far side of the airport. Being public-spirited (and a little frustrated I might add) I headed off their to see if the catering options improved. Unfortunately not. In the photo above you can see the curve of the upper floor, beneath you is the whole central portion of departures full of shops and food .. but you can't get down there!
See what you can't do from Gates D & E!
From upstairs, it all looks fabulous down there. I also did the A-C gates before I allowed myself to be locked into this Glass Palace upstairs, just scroll down for the A- C Gates eating articles.
Just empty retail units and glass...
Caffe de Fiore
You can just about see the long queue for service...
This small coffee shop was heaving when I made it over to the E Gates – there were two Delta flights boarding for the US and a “line” (queue) of some 20 or so American’s (guessing) try to buy some snacks for their flight home.
To make matters worse, sheets of implacable security glass give you a fabulous view over the lower departures area (gates A-C) brimming with retail and more food options. I have a feeling that the 20 or so chinese tourists I met will not take very fond memories of Barcelona Airport back home with them. Daft, heaven’s knows how much revenue the airport is losing by keeping all the long-haul passengers “out” of the departures area….
Gates A-C There’s so much more to do..
Caffe di Roma, another fake Italian coffee shop ...
Since I was tipped off about the “Gates D&E” problem by a very nice lady security guard (thank you "Merche"), I headed downstairs to checkout the main departures area of the airport before going through Passport control.
I have to say that, overall, the options for eating and drinking at Barcelona Airport are pretty poor. Most of the airport has the same few chains repeated endlessly. While this is probably a logical consequence of the huge fees the airport applies to it’s retaillers, it means that as passengers, there’s not a lot to choose from.
Caffe di Roma - Gates A-C
This large coffee establishment is located to the right of the escalators as you come down into the Gates A-C areas. It has plenty of seating and a nice airy feel since (unlike most of the establishments below) it's not tucked under the fairly low ceilings underneath gates D & E. Coffee, pastries, snacks, yawns..
Dehesa de Santa Maria - Gates A-C
Bocadillos, pastries, beer and coffee are on sale here
This “bocadillo” and beer snack parlour is located in the central part of the departures lounge and is always busy. The food options are limited though, baguettes filled with cold cuts, danish pastries at breakfast time and a few vile looking pre-wrapped sándwiches. The coffee is excellent and the beer is cold. Fresh fruit pots and the odd pre-wrapped salad are the only healthier options.
Lizarran Pintxos - Gates A-C
Mmmm finally something I can eat!
The only decent place to eat in the entire terminal (in my humble opinion). Lizarran is strangely almost completely hidden from view. Locate the big ZARA store then left and walk towards the outdoor patio (full of smokers, groans). Just as you reach the glass doors, turn left and you’ll find this Basque eatery chain tucked away in the corner.
Simple pricing, you pay per pintxo..
Lizarran has a simple system developed by the Basques, food comes on sticks (they call them Pintxos “pinchos”), take as many as you want and order a drink, when it’s time to settle the bill, they just count the sticks. On the day of my visit, the Pintxos were 1,90 EUR each. The restaurant employs “stick pólice” to ensure customer’s don’t lose any sticks before paying (just joking)…
The Pintxos themselves are delicious. If you’d like to find out more about Basque food, check out this article that Luna Dizon wrote on here recent trip to Bilbao.
McDonald's with robots.. Gates A-C
McDonalds is as popular as ever..
Lovers of the Golden Arches can get their fix at this branch in the departures area. Interestingly, Macdonald’s in Spain is trialling a pre-order system with touch screen computers and debot/credit card payment. You order your food from the robot and it is literally waiting for you as you reach the desk with the receipt. A word of warning, it appears NOT to like non-Spanish credit cards at this time…
Pasta Fiore - Gates A-C
Well at least they're not selling more baguettes...
Another day, another fake Italian restaurant… Freshly cooked Pizza and some pasta and salad options are available from this typically decorated restaurant. Just waiting for someone to burst into song… “Oh Sole Mio”….If I were Italian, I’d sue for defamation, really I would.
Pans & Company - Gates A-C
Yep, more baguettes .. is there a theme developing here?
Pans & Company is a very successful Catalan company specialising in freshly filled baguettes made to order. Apart from the huges ammounts of bread involved, tasty food if perhaps a bit too similar to the offerings from DEHESA SANTA MARIA for my liking...
Not much else..
And that, dear reader, is that. Given that between the 2 terminals, Barcelona moves upward of 35m people through it’s terminal buildings it’s a very limited “bread roll” type of catering. Very different to, for example, Alicante Airport with it’s Michelin starred chef restaurant. Apart from PASTA FIORE, nowhere can a hot meal be found and there are no bar areas except within the aforementioned restaurants.
I did find a lot of empty retail sites in the airport, particularly in the D & E Gates area : hopefully in the future this will improve. It really beggars belief that a Brand new airport, that wanted to become a long-haul hub, took the decisión to cut-off the long-haul passengers into a sterile, near shop-free and restaurant-free area rather than allow them to mix in the departures hall and apply Passport control further down the journey. The terminal building, designed by Ricardo Bofil, looks lovely from the air but it makes little or no sense on the ground to passengers who are in transit.