With rich flavours, delightful textures and dishes that define what ‘soul food’ should be, Barcelona is nothing short of a foodie’s paradise. Any city’s cuisine is an important part of the larger culture and Barcelona is no exception to this rule. A trip to the capital of Catalan is incomplete without savouring some of the best food and drink that the city has to offer.
While there is so much food to eat in Barcelona, someone once said that ‘the most simple things in life can bring the most happiness’ and the infamous pan con tomate is testament to this. As the name suggests, the popular appetiser is essentially bread, tomatoes, olive oil and a sprinkle of salt – but it is the freshness of the bread and tomatoes that truly make it a delightful dish. It is usually served at the beginning of a meal and can be enjoyed at any time of day or night. Some restaurants will even serve a ‘deconstructed’ version where you can put the ingredients together yourself.
Once you’ve dug into your pan con tomate, you may want to try some other Spanish appetisers, or tapas. Tapas can be served hot or cold, and eaten on their own as a meal or as a prelude to your main course. Popular tapas include patatas bravas (fried potatoes served with a spicy tomato sauce), chipirones (deep fried baby squid), croquetas (breaded fritters filled with ham, chicken, fish or spinach) and anchoas (anchovies served with vinegar, parsley and garlic). If you’re travelling with a big group, it is fun to order one portion of everything on the menu to share, and surprise yourself in the best kind of way.
When it comes to main course, there are a range of options to choose from; however, you cannot leave Spain without trying paella. This is a seafood dish consisting of rice, beans, vegetables and shellfish; however, you can also find many vegetarian versions today. Another must-try dish is bombas – a large potato croquette served with rich red sauce and garlic aioli. If you love seafood, you must make time to try some of the fresh seafood that is available in Spain – the preparation is usually very simple to ensure that the true flavour of the fish shines through.
Complement your meal with a traditional drink, like cava (a sparkling wine that is an important part of Catalan culture and celebrations), sangria (red wine with chopped fruit and a tiny dose of brandy) or vermouth (an aperitif that was once used for medicinal purposes).
When it comes to good places to eat in Barcelona, there are an infinite number of options to choose from and some of the best discoveries are made by simply strolling into a local joint. However, if you are short on time and want to make sure that you visit the best places to eat in Barcelona, we have some recommendations for you.
For traditional Catalan cuisine, pay a visit to Agut – a restaurant that is located in the Gothic Quarter and loved by many locals. Agut has been around for more than one hundred years but has sustained the quality of its food and service throughout. Plus, if an eatery is favoured by locals, you know it is a good one. La Esquinica is one of the best places in the city for tapas – while it isn’t located in the centre of the city, it is definitely worth the travel. Most nights are busy and you may have to wait in a queue for some time, but the scrumptious tapas on offer are well worth it. We recommend trying the patatas bravas, trigres (mussels) and chocos (squid rings) – and don’t forget to ask your sever about the daily specials as well.
While traditional food is a must-try, modern day Barcelona is a delightful melange of old and new, and this reflects in many of the restaurants across the city as well. Can Boneta is the best place in the city to experience traditional tapas and other small dishes served up in new and innovative ways – again, this place is frequented by many locals so have no doubt that it truly is the real deal.
If you’re on a budget or simply want to feast on street food, you must pay a visit to La Boqueria, the popular food market that is located off Las Ramblas. Here, you will find a host of fresh produce and seafood, as well as dishes from both local and international cuisines. Round up your meal with a freshly squeezed fruit juice and you’re good to go!
On the other end of the price spectrum, Barcelona also has a host of Michelin-starred restaurants – 22 to be precise. If you can afford to splurge on fine dining at one of these venues, we highly recommend it as it will be an experience to remember! Disfrutar is a top-of-mind Michelin-starred venue run by the chefs of the now-closed El Bulli. Every dish at Disfrutar is carefully curated to delight all of your senses, with unexpected pairings and ingredients. If you’re after a more homely feel, head to Cocina Hermanos Torres which is owned by the Torres brothers who are popular figures in the Barcelona culinary scene. It is said to be one of the best restaurants in Barcelona. They combined fresh ingredients and produce with modern techniques to create dishes that are reminiscent of recipes from their family. Remember, if you are keen to experience fine dining in Barcelona, it is important to make a reservation well in advance (for Michelin-starred eateries, you may need to book months prior to your visit) so that you do not miss out, especially during the summertime when tourism is at its peak.
If you’re keen to eat and drink your way through Barcelona, come visit us at your local SOTC branch or on our website, to start planning your visit with variety of Barcelona tour packages and Spain tour packages