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Food guide to Barcelona

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Your Barcelona Food Guide: How to Avoid the Tourist Traps

Bryony

Sep 29 • 6 minute read

When you’re thinking about moving to Barcelona, you’re going to need to know everything you can about your potential home. You’ll want to learn all about the city’s neighborhoods, so that you can select an area that best fits your lifestyle and “living abroad” budget. And since you won’t be working or studying all the time, you’ll definitely need to be in the know about Barcelona’s thriving nightlife scene, or where you can take in the artistic side of the city.

But one of the most important things to know before moving abroad is where you’re going to eat! Spain is home to a myriad of delicious foods, drinks and sweets! You won’t be able to forgive yourself if you don’t get out and try it all! However, you have to remember is that Barcelona is a big tourist town. With its unbelievable weather, proximity to the Mediterranean and easy access to a host of other cities and countries, it’s no wonder that Barcelona receives over 20 million visitors every year. And if you’re staying in the city center, walking to a café on the corner could mean stepping right into a tourist trap.

While you can always ask a few locals about some of the best places to grab a bite, knowing a few food tips for Barcelona can definitely go a long way. Plus, you’ll want to avoid chain restaurants or dishes that you can find in any capital city throughout Europe. Why not sample the local food in Barcelona, instead?

Of course, eateries in Barcelona can range from food stalls for on-the-go fuel, to elegant restaurants for a special occasion, like bagging that cool internship or passing your university exams. On top of that, you’ll need a place to grab something after a night out at the clubs, right? And isn’t brunch still all the rave?

Let’s take a look at the most delicious spots that Barcelona has to offer, and you’ll be eating like a local in no time!

Fine Dining – A Dinner to Remember

There are those moments when a regular dinner just won’t do. When considering a fine-dining experience, keep in mind that Barcelona is a very large city, along with a number of tourists to add to the crowds. So, if you are planning to dine at a popular upscale restaurant, it’s always best to make reservations well in advance, even more so if you are hoping to visit on the weekend. But the good news is that you have plenty of options, so try to set aside a little time (and money) to indulge.

Estimar

Owned by the famed Gotanegra family of Barcelona, this upmarket seafood restaurant is the ideal spot to host your personal celebration, even if it’s just making it through one more week. With a lovely wine list to accompany the heralded dishes, there’s also a location in Madrid.

ABaC

Serving modern Catalan dishes, this intimate restaurant is only open to 56 diners at a time. Beyond the food, guests love the upscale design and the relaxed ambiance, making it an excellent choice for date night or a delicious meal in an upscale environment.

Local Barcelona Food – The Real Deal

With the cost of living in Barcelona relatively low when it comes to food and entertainment, it leaves the opportunity to make your way around the city, testing some of the region's specialties. Locals insist that you can’t leave Barcelona without trying:

  • Bombas - This is a ball-shaped potato offered with garlic aioli and a spicy red sauce.
  • Paella - Originating in Valencia, this delicious rice and seafood blend includes fish and various types of shell food.
  • Calçots - Based primarily on a green onion from Catalonia, it is grilled with several different types of meats and topped with romesco sauce, which is made up of red peppers, hazelnuts and almonds.
  • Pa amb Tomàquet - Meaning bread with tomato, this simple food item is seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil and can be eaten at every meal, whether it’s breakfast or dinner.
  • Esqueixada - This light Catalan salad is made with raw salted cod, tomatoes, onions, romesco sauce and black olives.
  • Escalivada - A Spanish specialty, it’s grilled over an open fire, comprised of eggplant and red peppers, along with anchovies, garlic, salt and olive oil.
  • Mató - A creamy, sweet cheese that often takes center stage; often served topped with walnuts and honey.

Now, if you’re ready to check out some of the best local dishes, you’ll want to try them at the following eateries:

Los Toreros

Located in an unpretentious spot in a space with bull-fighting relics and mementos, this is one of the most popular restaurants with the locals in Barcelona. Serving a menu filled with tapas and thoughtful wine pairings, the great news is that you can easily eat here on a budget!

La Dolca Herminia

Tucked away in an old theatre with vaulted ceilings and crisp white tablecloths, this staple eatery is also a favorite amongst Barcelona’s residents. They offer a wide variety of specialties, but they also boast a set menu that even includes a drink, allowing you to sample several Catalan dishes at a more economical price.

The Perfect Brunch – A Lazy mid-morning Treat

Brunch has become a staple throughout Europe, and few places do it as well as Barcelona. After a busy week, the locals of Barcelona like to take the morning easy with a meal that offers the best of both worlds. Whether you’re looking for an upscale experience with champagne and a view, or a cozier option with your favorite comfort foods a stone’s throw from your home, this popular meal will be sure to not disappoint!

Cerveceria Catalana

If you’ve been yearning for freshly squeezed orange juice and the tastiest breakfast tapas in the city, then you’ve landed in the right place. If it’s five o’clock somewhere, you can also try out some of the locally brewed beer. The atmosphere is fun and hip, so be prepared for a good time.

La Esquina

Now, if you’re all set to relax on a lazy Sunday, head to this cozy restaurant to indulge in your favorite brunch staples, including salmon that is smoked right in-house. With a laid-back atmosphere, it’s a wonderful option to enjoy a sunny day in Barcelona.

Street Food – On-the-Go Eats

When you’re running to class or hopping on the metro to get to the other side of the city, sometimes you just don’t have time for a full sit-down meal. However, you’re in Barcelona, so that doesn’t mean that you have to settle for a dull dining experience. The street food in Barcelona is legendary, especially if you know exactly where to go!

El Pinotxo Bar

Constantly noted as Barcelona’s best low-key tapas bar, you can enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of bustling counter service and piping hot food. It’s been around since the 1940s and even serves late breakfast. Plus, it’s in close proximity to the famous La Boqueria market.

Palo Alto Market

Now, if you want to find a broad selection of street fare all in the same spot, then this large monthly market is definitely the way to go. You can find all of Barcelona’s specialties, as well as some tasty dishes from neighboring areas as well. Other vendors set up too, so you can also get in a little shopping.

Dessert – A Sweet Tooth’s Paradise

It’s way too tempting to walk by a bakery or pastry shop without venturing in to sample a little something, isn’t it? If you thought it was difficult before, wait until you’re in Barcelona!

It’s especially known for tantalizing treats like:

  • Crema Catalana - Actually a creme brûlée, this vanilla custard is torched until it creates a light crust.
  • Leche Frita - These custard squares are fried and dusted with sugar.
  • Pastisset - Filled with almonds, these little cakes are a must-try!
  • Menjar Blanc - This almond milk pudding is served at many restaurants throughout the city.

Quatre Coses

Hands down one of the best places to cheat with something sweet, Quatre Coses is THE place for boxes filled with delicious chocolates, pastries and every confectionary delight you can imagine! If you need a little sugar buzz to get you through the day, a visit here will do the job!

La Colmena

Acknowledged as one of the oldest cake shops in all of Barcelona, this old-school cake and candy shop has been serving locals and visitors alike for over a hundred years. Be sure to sample the large varieties of pastries and grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea.

Now that you know where to find the best restaurants in Barcelona, you’ll be able to come up with recommendations or be that student or co-worker who always seems to know where to find the tastiest local food in Barcelona. You’ll quickly discover that moving to Barcelona will be an unforgettable experience, and you’ll easily understand why 1.7 million live in the city, and an impressive 4.6 million reside in the suburban areas. Armed with food tips for Barcelona and housing in a great neighborhood, you'll be ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

Ready for your adventure?

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