Where to eat in Barcelona
A guide to eating in Barcelona
It’s funny. There are some places you would just die to visit. You see one picture and your heart is set. Barcelona has been that place for me since I was 12. A city built by Antoni Gaudi, I couldn’t wait to walk along the streets of what I, and many, find to be fairy-tale-esque architecture.
And then I arrived.
And it was no fairy tale. Because the reality is the entire city doesn’t look like the view from Park Güell. And Park Güell, well, once you’ve elbowed your way through the millions of tourists to snap a quick photo, quickly loses its charm. Which is why we decided to view the city from a different perspective: food. And while the food remains the pull to visit, Barcelona's feel and buzz is now what drags me back time and again.
The choice is overwhelming and you’ve probably found yourself sifting through articles to pinpoint your top 5 restaurants for a long weekend. Spain will change the way you view food: from its theatrical at-the-counter shows, knowledgeable waitstaff who understand hospitality, and 2,000 calorie meals, you’ll be mesmerised at how sound their relationship with quality, well-balanced nutrition is.
Obviously La Boqueria is not to be missed. Fresh juices, mountains of candy, turrón (nougat), Spanish conservas (canned food), salted cod, fresh jamon, farm eggs and more fill the covered, but crowded market. Try to nab a stool at Pinotxo Bar for their daily menu. Sant Antoni Market is another gem, architecturally brighter and less crowded (and most importantly close to my favourite pastry shop).
Because you’ll be eating A LOT, I’d recommend a small pastry in the morning rather than a full-on breakfast. You cannot leave Barcelona without having tried xuixo from Pastisseria Lis Barcelona – Pere Camps.
Our favourite traditional bakery is Pastisseria La Colmena, where you an easily consume 20 cookies, sweets & hot cocoa for pennies but many opt for Escriba, right outside La Boqueria.
There’s nothing like waking up with a strong cortado and a warming shakshuka. It’s not to be missed at federal, an Aussie café with locations in the Gothic Quarter & Sant Antoni. Equally as good is Caravelle or Brunch & Cake.
Gourmet Canned Food
Because this is a thing: conservas. And an extremely delicious thing. Quimet y Quimet needs to be experienced so book your trip to coincide with their opening hours. Lined with walls of alcohol, every dish is made from canned something. Peruse the menu before going as you’ll need to be prepared. The venue is incredibly small and standing-only so you need to communicate with the efficient staff quickly. From the montaditos (small sandwiches) you must try the foie-gras with volcanic salt. The salmon, yogurt & truffle honey was divine, and smoked sardines & dried tomato blew me away. My favourite from their tapas menu is the tuna belly.
Everyone said you gotta go to Cal Pep. And everyone was absolutely right. There is no menu, simply what’s available and fresh on the day. We sat down at the bar (the only place you should sit in Barca) and were mesmerised by the show that took place. Our waiter told us to trust him as he created a bespoke 10-course menu for us. We watched as he cooked our food or added presentable bits before telling us how best to consume. Things you should ask for are the tortilla Spanish omelette, buttery monkfish, clams in jamon broth and millefeuille.
**I really enjoyed Restaurant Centric Canalla and Ultramarinos despite being in very touristy areas. Tapas 24 is famous for their Mc Foie-Burger and Bikini Comerç (a toastie) but I found the food to be ok and the staff not so friendly. Can Paixano is meant to be a real treat, especially for cava.
Chocolate & Churros
Apparently Europe’s history of chocolate begins in Barcelona, so make sure your sampling game is strong. Carrer de Petritxol is where you’ll find most chocolate shops & cafes. They say you can pop into any of the shops on that street for a good one (although the one we went to wasn’t anything special). If you’re on a larger chocolate hunt, have a read of Emily Luxton Travels’ Ultimate Guide.
Coffee & Cake
For coffee, head to Satan’s Coffee Corner. If you need a cake-me-up, Caelum is a cosy little spot. You can’t miss it since the cakes in the window will draw you in. Just like the doughnuts at chök will have you stepping into the shop. I’d say ditch the doughnuts and grab some truffles instead. Beautiful D’s but tasteless ;)
Vegetarian & Vegan Nosh
Head’s up, Spain may not be for you veggies unless you want to survive on patatas bravas. But Flax & Kale is to the rescue with their raw, gluten-free and plant-based menu. They do serve oily-fish for you flexitarians out there. It’s a good place to detox in after the oily food.
The Adria brothers are supposedly nuts. Like bat-sh*t cray. But that’s why Ferran and Albert have been so successful in opening some of Spain’s top-rated restaurants. Beginning with 3-star Michelin El Bulli in Roses (Girona), they moved to Barcelona and opened a few more restaurants. Tickets and Bodega 1900 are among the most popular, primarily for tapas, whereas Pakta specialises in Nikkei cuisine. Having been for a 23-course tasting menu at the latter, I can vouch for the quality, but I’ve had well-priced Japanese-Peruvian fusion elsewhere.
Have you been to Barcelona? What are some of your favourite eats?