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Our Favorite Dining in Spain: Restaurant Massana

With my Thanksgiving trip to Spain still fresh in my memory, I’d like to revisit another one of my favorite dining spots with you.  Girona might be most famous for El Cellar de Can Roca, but there is another Michelin Star Chef, Pere Massana, that’s been cooking slightly under the radar for the past 25 years.

Pere’s Restaurant Massana, located under the railroad tracks that cut through the heart of Girona, has been a staple for Courtney and I since we moved over to Spain. Some might consider this unassuming restaurant to be behind in the times, but Pere is all about keeping the Catalan cuisine and culture at the forefront.

First Impressions

On our first visit, what stuck out was how extremely quiet it was in the dining room; all that is heard are the occasional whispers from the very reserved Catalans. We are typically used to a little added ambiance, but we grew to love the simplicity.

Aside from the exceptional food, what makes Massana one of our favorite restaurants is that we would see Pere himself walking through the cobbled streets of Girona on a weekly basis. He’d either be at the farmers market sorting through produce or stopping to chat with everyone that crossed his path. Even though we only spoke broken Spanish with him, a friendly smile of recognition always greeted us when we met. Massana is also more of a local’s spot with most of the tourists drawn towards Can Roca, so finding a table for a spur-of-the-moment lunch or dinner is never an issue.

Here are a few pictures to walk you through our last dining experience at Massana. If you ever find yourself in Girona, I highly recommend visiting Massana or even his latest endeavor, Restaurant Nu.

Cheap but Good Wine

Another plus — this is the case with most restaurants in Cataluña — is that the wine list is rarely ever marked up. In some restaurants, wine is actually cheaper than if you were to buy it at a local retail shop. When I realized that at times a glass of wine was cheaper than a glass of sparkling water, I knew I was where I belonged!

Last but not Least: The Cuisine!

Our dinner began with a quintessential Catalan dish, patatas bravas. This rendition included a slice of pan con tomate over the standard aioli and potato.

Courtney’s favorite dish: a mushroom carpaccio with shrimp and black truffles.

Cataluña is the mushroom capital of Spain. From October until December it is not uncommon to see hikers of all ages on the sides of the roads carrying baskets full of wild mushrooms. I’ve often thought of going foraging myself until I heard of how many lethal mushrooms grow in the area.

You must be very skilled to sort through the edible and the poisonous fungi. Even with that knowledge, I just couldn’t resist ordering mushrooms at every chance.

The “Fillet of Girona” topped with foie gras and a port reduction.

The last plate for us in any restaurant is usually a board of local cheeses. I’m a big fan of hard cheeses and the cheesemakers around the Pyrenees have it dialed.

The hour might be approaching midnight, but it’s vacation, so we’ll do how the Spanish do and finish the meal with a cortado. We did, however, forgo the discotecas and headed straight home.