Restaurant Guide

Although we know most of the restaurants personally this is no way a list of specific recommendations, as we may not have been to them for several years.  So comments are limited to objective remarks as far as possible.  The list is not inclusive and naturally we don’t include places we didn’t like, but that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with restaurants that don’t appear here. Use your own judgement, i.e. tumbleweed in the car park should be strong message, but lots of little white vans parked on weekday lunchtimes is a good sign! As well as a our special favourites we’ve concentrated on restaurants around the perimeter of our ‘territory’ so that if you are on a long trip you’ll have a fair certainly of finding somewhere to eat! We’ve also listed quite a few restaurants in Tremp, as obviously it’s the most convenient place to eat out.

Most restaurants earn their daily bread by doing a good value menu del dia. This is a fixed price menu, usually with three courses, and offers a choice of about five dishes per course. Menus usually include bread, wine and spring water (this is specified at the bottom of the menu card), but not coffee. Prices vary according to the class of restaurant but menus offer a very good way of exploring and experimenting with new foods, and testing the water with a new restaurant. If you like what you find then it’s worth going back for the a la carta, which is more like a ‘menu’ in the English sense of the term. The carta will have more choice and larger portions, but drinks are not included.
Many country restaurants only offer their menu for lunch on weekdays and vice versa in the case of the carta, therefore it’s rare to find a menu available for dinner. We’ve identified the latter as far as possible as menus are such a good resource after a long days’ excursion! But note that dinners are served from around nine pm, otherwise it’s better to opt for platso combinados, mixed grills, which are more widely available, or bocadillos, substantial hot or cold filled sandwiches, or a selection of tapas. These are served in bars and cafeterias; note that cold bocadillos and tapas will be on sale all the time. Tapas can make filling meal if accompanied by pa amb tomaquet, country bread spread with tomato and olive oil, and a wedge or tortilla is very filling. Waiters will prepare these at all times, heating some dishes in the microwave if necessary.

NB The names in brackets refer to the relevant Locality Guides

Aramunt (la Pobla de Segur)

L’Eramont:  This is a lovely restaurant attached to a farmhouse B+B and a good place to recuperate after exploring the abandoned old town (see La Pobla de Segur Guide) the ‘new’ village of Aramunt is built on flat land around the hill on which Aramunt Vel is situated. L’Eramont is on the edge of the new village a hundred yards or so straight on beyond the crossroads. The upstairs dining room is decorated with traditional handicrafts and has a quiet and restful ambiance. L’Eramont is a frequent contributor to the annual Jornades Gastronómiques as well as being represented at other events like Tremp’s spring fair or the Tast del Pallars’ a kind of celebration of dishes unique to the region, which takes place during Tremp’s fiesta major. Duck dishes are a speciality there.

There are two other restaurants in Aramunt; although we don’t now either of them personally it’s useful to know that they are there!

Cal Manelic: is a guesthouse as well s being a restaurant and has a swimming pool. It serves menus and a la carta.

Lo Blau: Restaurant that lists itself as serving carta only, closed Wednesdays.

Baro (Sort – Pallars Sobirà)

There are three restaurants in this tiny village plus a bar or two!

Cal Mariano: This former roadhouse inn is very popular with locals as is evident by the large number of tradesman’s vans to be seen parked there at lunchtime! Instead of an a la carta there is a large menu del dia, which amounts to the same thing, and definitely good value. There is a wide choice of typical dishes and they tend to have at least one waiter who speaks English. There is a small dining room off the bar and a larger one further back into the building, but the menu choice is all the same. The menu is also available in the evening, which is very handy after a long day in the high mountains, but be aware that you will have a very late night of it!

El Carro: This is a smart country restaurant on the other bank of the river. It attracts people from all over Spain – note the profusion of luxury cars in the car park. The speciality is shoulder of lamb or whole chickens roasted in a wood fired oven, as well as more homely traditional fare like fideua, a sort of paella made with noodles instead of rice, and escalivada, a medley of baked vegetables serves cold with lots of olive oil. The dining room has a huge collection of antiquities and bric-a-brac, and the whole place is done up as an old farmstead.

La Pobleta de Belvei (Val Fosca)

La Era d’el Marxant:  An ‘era’ is a stone built stockade that used to be used for housing the herds at night and storing all of the numerous artefacts in the agricultural world. The Era d’el Marxant is housed in a subtly converted example of this distinctive architecture of the Val Fosca. As well as typical mountain dishes like bacalla amb samfeina, salt cod served in a hot vegetable sauce, it specialises in a la brasa cooking; this is, meats grilled over log fire. In this case a huge and ingenous barbecue has been built in a corner of the oudoor patio, which also has some tables.

‘Marxant’ is Catalan for a travelling salesman, but it’s not related to the English ‘merchant’, however, but is derived from the verb marxar, which means ‘to go’ or ‘to leave’, so there may be a few jokes made over the postprandial brandies! I don’t know why it should be so named, but I’m certain it isn’t named after the word’s other meaning, the herb Red-root Amaranth or  Redroot Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus) as this is poisonous, especially to cattle and pigs! The Era d’el Marxant is also connected to a speciality food shop in La Pobla de Segur; La Botiga (Av. Estació, 68), so if you like the produce you can buy some there to take home. NB the Val Fosca is noted for the production of horsemeat, carn d’equí, so do check!
As you drive into the village there is a small Plaça on the right, La Era del Marxant is a few yards up a lane leading from the far end of this square. Offers menu and carta, Closed on Tuesdays.

Cellers (Montsec)

Hotel Terradets:  This is the Pallars Jussà’s only ‘tourist’ complex. In fact it can hardly be called this in the ‘Costa’ sense of the word, rather that it is a resort style hotel that actually earns its keep with business customers, weddings and banquets, as well as tourists, mainly from within Spain. It evolved from an old ‘Fonda’ or roadhouse inn and it still has a ‘pension’, or budget B&B, section. As may be expected the catering facilities are varied to match, with a cafeteria as well as a ‘high-class’ restaurant within the hotel complex.  The cafeteria has bar foods and platos combinados at all hours, while the restaurant, named the Restaurant Del Llac, has a large carta of very highly developed cooking and an extensive wine list.  During the day, however, they do a self-service buffet menu which is very good value. The Restaurant Del Llac is more expensive than others locally, but is extremely good value compared with abroad and the ambience and service easily make up for it.  Try to get a table overlooking the lake, which gives the restaurant its name and distinctive logo, the view is stunning!

Figuerola de Orcau (Isona – Conca d’Ella)

This is a small village just off the highway towards Isona. The village itself is worth exploring s it has a charming and unspoilt medieval centre. In addition it is a possible start end point of one of Our Favourite Walks (A4 – Basturs). The countryside here is very green and rolling, ideal walking county for the more gently inclined!

La Barbacoa: A small family run place specialising in a la brasa cooking; the rabbit with alioli and grilled quails are to die for. It is very informal, however, and as the village is on the more popular route to and from Barcelona it can be full over holiday weekends, so check first if you want to eat there after spending a day our walking, etc.

Fontllonga (Montsec)

Can Quel:  A very busy restaurant at weekends, popular with family groups from Lleida city. There is a limited menu during week but an excellent carta at weekends (booking advisable, otherwise arrive early).  It serves very traditional Catalan cuisine such as conill a la vinaigretta, rabbit in sweet/sour sauce cooked in wood fired oven. If you have to wait for a table settle on the small terrace to take in the spectacular views of the Serra de Montsec. For what it’s worth we ‘discovered’ this restaurant from a book in English called something like ‘Off the Beaten Track in Catalonia’ but of course it’s now probabaly on page XXXXXXX of Google, just another Internet victim! So if you want something really ‘genuine’ and unknown you have it here – this is the real Catalan cooking!

Lake Sant Antoni (La Pobla de Segur)

El Xirunguito:  This is a beach bar (xirunguito means a kiosk in Catalan); friendly, relaxed and as informal as you would expect. They serve a range of speciality bocadillos and salads, and there is a very al fresco atmosphere reminiscent of a Greek beach taverna. There are bar games and plenty of space for children. Boat hire is available next door. One can easily spend the whole day there, as it’s the best beach on Lake Sant Antoni – NB if the kids are still full of energy one can walk for miles southwards!

Oliana (Motoring – Excursions)

Hostal – Restaurant Victor: A rather curious old-fashioned place that prides itself for its longevity. A very reasonable home cooked menu and a useful stop-off beyond the eastern border of our ‘territory’, it is especially useful if you have gone over the pass to Coll de Nargo and don’t feel up to the return journey without some sustenance (come back via Ponts and Benavente). One curiosity is the spring that flows from the rock right behind the restaurant kitchen! The Victor is on the main road through the town, although set above the traffic. Park in a small square just to the south of the village centre and walk back.

Pont de Montanyana (Pont de Suerte – Alta Ribagorça)

There are several restaurants along the main road, popular with truckers, etc.  All offer good value and it’s very useful on return from day trips, especially after the Mont-rebei walk (C3 – Congost de Mont-rebei) as the hours are more flexible than usual.  For some reason the village specialises in bread and many of the restaurants appear to be owned and run by the same family.

El Crocodillo: half a mile north of the village, is really a truck driver’s restaurant, but is none the worse for that

Fonda Llarc: This is a very nice independent restaurant and hostal. I’m not 100% sure of the name but it’s the one on the left hand corner as you look at the old footbridge into the village from the main road. It has a door to the bar on the right and a door to reception in the middle of the heavy stone façade and the restaurant is to the left of the reception

Sant Marti de Barcedana (Montsec)

Casa Roca: This is a very popular Casa de Pages, i.e. a rural bed and breakfast type accommodation. Fortunately for the rest of us it also has a working restaurant section. It specialises in highly traditional mountain cookery, including dishes baked in a wood buring oven, and uses home produce like honey and walnut oil (there is even a wine made of walnuts) all of which are also on sale.
Sant Marti de Barcedana is on the way to Vilanova de Meia (see Walking Guide B 3: Hostal Roig and Montsec de Rubies), the village is set above the road. Casa Roca is clearly visble from the road, however.

Talarn (Tremp)

Casa Lola: This deserves a special mention. The restaurant is famous throughout Catalonia, note discrete photographs of ex-president Jordi Pujol and King Juan Carlos dining there (actually J.C. has to attend the annual passing out parade at the Military Academy nearby so he gets around a bit locally!) Casa Lola appears with glowing reviews in the Rough Guide to the Pyrenees, making particular reference to the desserts, e.g. Violet-blossom Sorbet! But in fact their whole repertoire is noteworthy. The driving force behind the restaurant is the ‘filla de la casa’, Florita (Lola is her mum), she’s a gifted inventor of dishes and a stalwart of the annual Jornades Gastronömiques and we’ve tried several special menus over the years. Here is an example:

Amanida d’arengada amb tomata perfumada d’alfàbrega i nous (salt ‘herring’ salad with basil flavoured tomato preserve and walnuts)

Mitja perdiu amb cols i bolets (partridge stuffed with cabbage and wild mushrooms)

Trinxat de bistec de vedella amb cargols farcit de foie (veal steak with snails stuffed with paté de foie – ‘trinxat’ is a Catalan version of bubble and squeak!)

Crep de mermelada de tomàquet i amatlles torrades amb xocolata (crêpes with tomato jam, toasted almonds and chocolate)

Casa Lola also has a wonderful display of traditional Catalan foods such as homemade jams and preserves as well as dried mushrooms, charcuterie, etc., which make gifts. It is noted for products from the family’s own farm and inventive adaptations of Catalan themes – not nouvelle – extensive carta and a menu on weekday lunchtimes. We might as well admit that Florita is a friend of ours. Highly recommended!

To get there simply drive towards the village and park in the small square just outside the medieval walls, Casa Lola is built over the gateway!

Tremp

Tremp’s restaurants serve the town’s needs in a straightforward and businesslike fashion. Rather than attempting to specialise for the tourist or gastronaut the hotels and restaurants offer good value, genuine, if rather unimaginative fare. On the other hand there‘s nothing wrong with this, of course, and it provides a good introduction for the newcomer to Spanish cooking and eating habits! Note that many of Tremp’s restaurants also serve a menu in the evening and weekends, although the latter may be slightly more expensive.

Hotel Siglo XX: This long established, family-run hotel is one of the mainstays of Tremp’s hostaleria business sector. Although it has been newly refurbished recently L’Alosa, as the restaurant is now called, still retains a certain grandeur from the heady days of the Canadenca (see History Guide) when the town had an air of the Wild West! L’Alosa serves traditional Spanish cuisine but is worth trying for the atmosphere and the occasional classic dish from distant parts, such as riñones al jerezana, kidneys in sherry sauce, which originates in Jerez, a long way away in Andalusia! The Hotel Siglo XX, with its grandiose façade, is unmissable as one drives through Tremp, just beyond the church

Cafeteria Siglo XX: This is the ‘annex’ to the Hotel, next door but one. It has a lively atmosphere and offers a very good value menu as well as hot bocadillos and platos combinados, mixed grills. It is open all hours and as well as a dining room at the back of the bar there is a terrace overlooking the swimming pool. Tickets for swimming are bought at the bar.

Lac Negre: This small restaurant offers a good basic menu, which is also served in the evenings. A la carta is available in evenings and at weekends. The elegant dining room is at back behind the bar, which is very popular with young and old customers alike! The Lac Negre is behind the Taxi rank, roughly opposite the church.

La Canonja: This is a budget hostal with a bar/cafeteria/restaurant on the ground floor. Although the bar is rather nosy in a boisterous sort of way it serves a good range of tapas and has a basic but good value menu midday and evenings. Its address is in Plaça de la Val, which is next to the Museum, but in fact la Canonja is on the main road through Tremp, on the stretch where most of the banks are found.

Hermanas Lopez: This basic bar/restaurant serves a basic menu at lunchtime and evenings and serves pizzas and other fast food.  As the name implies it is run by a large family of sisters and it has a lively family atmosphere and is a good place for noisy children! It is on Plaça Capdevila almost opposite the Hotel Siglo XX.

Antalia: Tremp has experienced a large influx of immigrants over the past few years, in particular from Eastern Europe, and is very much the better for it! One manifestation of this is the growing number of ethnic food outlets, including the perhaps inevitable Kebab joint. In fact Antalia serves a wide range of fast food, from delicious salads to the usual fry-ups, but their kebabs are a great success! It’s location midway up the Rambla de Dr Pearson, with the consequent pole position of its terrace, makes it doubly attractive!

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