Sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Such is the case with the food scene in Barcelona. There’s so much good food that it can be overwhelming to know how to eat in Barcelona. Here are five suggestions on how to dive into the local food scene without missing a beat.
5 Ways to Eat in Barcelona
1. Graze through La Boqueria
Barcelona has many neighborhood markets, but Barcelona’s biggest and best market is the world-famous La Boqueria right in the heart of the city on Las Ramblas. The market is a magical place featuring delectable jamon, wide-eyed seafood and fresh-from-the-farm produce. Although La Boqueria is always crowded with tourists and locals, it really is a can’t miss destination for any food lover.
Tasting Tip: If you still have room after grazing through the market, treat yourself to a sweet treat at Chök, a modern chocolatier right near the market. This cute shop is a pleasant respite after the busy market.
Chök is located at Carrer del Carme, 3, 08001 Barcelona, Spain.
2. Eat at Tapas Bars
Tapas bars are everywhere in Barcelona. Thanks to the popularity of al fresco dining, there’s a buzz in the city created by clinking glasses and animated chit-chat on almost every corner.
Eating at a tapas bar can be just snacks or it can be a full on meal. Popular dishes include pan con tomate (tomato bread), patatas brava (fried potatoes topped with aioli and spicy tomato sauce) and croquetas (fried bundles of oozing deliciousness). With so many options, it can be challenging to select a tapas bar. Here are three tapas bars that you should check out:
Cal Pep is a bustling tapas bar in the trendy El Born neighborhood. It’s a good spot to experience an open kitchen making traditional tapas dishes.
Bodega 1900, part of the Albert Adria restaurant empire, serves innovative tapas in a lively atmosphere. From spherified olives to cannelloni stuffed with foie gras, the restaurant takes old-school tapas and makes it new and exciting.
Bardeni is a modern meat bar located near Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. The small restaurant is the perfect place for an affordable meal like steak tartare with a side of patatas bravas.
Tasting Tip: People eat in Barcelona later than in the United States. In fact, many restaurants don’t start serving dinner until 8:00. Plan your day accordingly and embrace the laid back approach to time.
Bardeni is located at Carrer de València, 454, 08013 Barcelona, Spain.
Bodega 1900 is located at Carrer de Tamarit, 91, 08015 Barcelona, Spain.
Cal Pep is located at Plaça de les Olles, 8, 08003 Barcelona, Spain.
3. Experience Molecular Gastronomy
Molecular gastronomy has its epicenter in Barcelona. Perhaps this is because the same creativity can be found in a well constructed plate of food as can be found in one of Gaudi’s modernist buildings.
There are a whopping 22 restaurants in Barcelona that have been awarded Michelin stars. These restaurants elevate food with gastronomic techniques like spherification, not to mention a healthy respect for foam. More importantly, they are serving beautifully plated food with exquisite flavors.
Tasting Tip: Tasting menus are a great way to get a full dining experience from amuse bouches to petit fours and everything in between. Not only do tasting menus offer a comprehensive introduction to molecular gastronomy, but they also tend to be less expensive than ordering on an a la carte basis.
Angle is located at Carrer Aragó, 214, 08011 Barcelona, Spain.
Roca Moo is located at Carrer Rosellón, 265, 08008 Barcelona, Spain.
4. Take a Food Tour
Barcelona’s food culture can be a bit intimidating for a first-time visitor. Taking a food tour is a fun way to learn about the city and its food. As a guest of Devour Barcelona, I participated in a comprehensive food tour in the charming Gracia neighborhood. The four-hour Devour Barcelona walking tour offers a wide selection of foods and drinks prepared by local artisans and chefs. Taking this tour is a fun way to learn about Barcelona’s rich food culture.
Tasting Tip: Try to schedule a food tour early in your visit. A good tour will set the tone for your culinary experience while giving you an understanding of the local food scene.
5. Don’t Forget to Drink
Drinking in Barcelona is more of a right than a luxury. Beverage prices are reasonable, so there’s no excuse not to enjoy a drink (or two) at every meal when you eat in Barcelona. My drinks of choice are Cava, Red Wine and Vermouth.
Cava – There’s no better way to start a meal in Barcelona than with a glass of Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine that rivals France’s Champagne and Italy’s Prosecco.
Red Wine – Catalan wines can be bought all over the world, but they keep the best bottles for themselves. My favorite varietals are Garnacha and Tempranillo, especially those from the Priorat region.
Vermouth – No longer relegated to the grandmother or nana crowd, vermouth is a popular drink in Barcelona for people of all ages. Served with a slice of orange and a green olive and often accompanied by a green canister of soda water, a glass of house-made vermouth is not to be missed in Barcelona.
Tasting Tip: Gin and tonic cocktails are quite the rage in Barcelona right now. Xix, a trendy yet cosy cocktail bar near Bodega 1900, serves a mean G&T in a huge goblet.
Xix is located at Carrer de Rocafort, 19, 08015 Barcelona, Spain.
Wondering what to do besides eat in Barcelona? Click here for suggestions on how to spend 48 hours in Barcelona.