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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

What to eat in Barcelona: typical dishes and where to find them!

Barcelona is a lively, colorful and sparkling city and we explored it thoroughly with our 3 day itinerary - Barcelona - 3 days itinerary to discover this vibrant Spanish city - and we discovered the wonders made by Antoni Gaudí - Antoni Gaudí's Barcelona - a splendid trip through modernist architecture.

But it's time for the fun to come .. let's start with a delicious culinary tour of Catalan flavors, you won't be disappointed! One of the main reasons why I was looking forward to going back to Barcelona was because of its exquisite food. Paella, tapas, sangria and creme brulee are just some of the delicacies to be enjoyed in Barcelona. Let's find out together and see where to find them!

What to eat in Barcelona

Paella. Barcellona, Spagna
  • Paella: Paella is perhaps the best known Spanish dish abroad, one of those you can't miss if you go to Spain! There are endless versions to try and in Barcelona it's delicious wherever you eat it. Its name comes from the pan that is used to cook and serve it, while its origins date back to the Middle Ages, when the servants of the Arab courts in an area near Valencia (the city where it was born) mixed the leftovers of royal banquets with rice. Among the various versions we find the marescus (with seafood), the Valencian (it's the original with meat and vegetables), the Catalan (mixed meat and fish), or the vegetarian paella. If you want to taste it, keep in mind that in all the places it is prepared for a minimum of two people, which has a cooking time of 20-25 minutes (so order some tapas while waiting) and pay attention to the prices: usually those shown on the menu are for 1 person. Last advice if you are looking for an excellent Paella: avoid La Rambla, it's a tourist trap (you will spend a lot and it will not be of quality), rather move to Barceloneta.

Arroz Negre, Barcellona, Spagna
  • Arroz: arroz is the Catalan variant of the classic paella and it's a more a rice plate version of the original recipe, enriched with fish. The most famous versions are the "a banda" or "negre" ones, with the unusual flavor of cuttlefish ink. The main differences compared to paella are found in the consistency (the arròz is creamier), in the presence of garlic and onion and in the sauce which is exclusively based on fish.

  • Tapas: tapas or tapa are small appetizers very famous in Spain, perfect for the happy hour or as appetizers, even if they often become a real dinner. The Spaniards even use to go around the various places, tasting tapa in each of them. There are truly an infinite variety of flavors: from patatas bravas (potatoes cut into large cubes), to pinchito moruno (a skewer of meat cut into small pieces), pescaito frito (small fried fish), chipirones (fried mini squid ).

  • Pa amb Tomaquèt (pan con tomate): in Barcelona and in Catalan cuisine it's an institution. It's simply bread (pa de pages, rustic bread, or pa de coca or de cristal, or a thin and crunchy bread with little crumb) with squeezed tomato and extra virgin olive oil. Very reminiscent of bruschetta: simple but delicious! An appetizer or dinner based on tapas cannot be said to be such without pa amb tomaquet, which perfectly accompanies cheeses or the famous Jamon Iberico, a typical ham of Spanish cuisine.

  • Allioli: allioli is one of the most famous sauces you can taste in Barcelona and is used as an essential accompaniment to every meal. It's a garlic and olive oil-based sauce that you will find on various dishes such as cod (brandada de bacallà), rabbit, grilled meats, potatoes, rice (arròs a banda) or, more simply, on toast. It was served to us practically at every meal as an entrè along with toast and olives! Simply delicious!

  • Crema catalana: you cannot go to Barcelona without trying this delicious dessert. Catalans believe it's their own invention (by some Catalan nuns) and that it's the ancestor of the French crème brûlée. The difference is that the creme brulee is cooked on the stove, while the brûlée is cooked in a bain-marie. The recipe (similar to custard) includes milk, egg yolks, sugar, lemon and orange zest, cinnamon. The base is soft and creamy, while on top there is a crunchy caramelized sugar crust.

Churros con caramello, Barcellona, Spagna
  • Churros: they are sweets with an elongated shape similar to sticks, prepared with a batter (of butter, flour and eggs) fried in boiling oil and then sprinkled with sugar; the result is succulent desserts that recall the flavor of our donuts and should be eaten hot ... possibly soaked in chocolate, but I recommend the variant accompanied by caramel or dulce de leche! Churros are not only typical of Catalonia but of all of Spain and are found almost everywhere around: from street kiosks to the most refined bars to banquets in amusement parks and local festivals.

Sangria bianca, Barcellona, Spagna
  • Sangria: Sangria is one of the symbols of Spain, you absolutely have totry it! There are several versions, one with red wine, one with cava (our prosecco) and one with rosé. The term "sangria" derives from the term "sangre", that is "blood", a name given to it due to the bright red color of the original recipe. We love the white one, but everyone has their own tastes! I advise you to try it in all its versions! Whichever way you prefer it, Sangria will give you a taste of the hot and fiesta atmosphere that lives in Barcelona. Thanks to the presence of fruit inside, with its freshness and its sweet flavor, it lends itself very well for happy hour, to accompany some tapas but also for dinner.

Where to eat in Barcelona

  • La Lolita

La Lolita is a splendid place located on Rambla de Catalunya, where you will find many restaurants. We were attracted by the colors and the inviting and fun environment. The restaurant is beautiful, here you will find a fairly simple Spanish cuisine, with the main typical Catalan dishes. We chose to dine with a mix of tapas, all very good: papas bravas, a tortilla de patatas, a mix of assorted croquettes, huevos rotos with jamon and the classic pan con tomate, all accompanied by two medium beers, for a total of 39 €.

  • Casa del Molinero

Casa del Molinero, Barcellona, Spagna

La Casa del Molinero is a tavern located in the Barri Gòtic, not far from Barceloneta. It's one of the most famous clubs in Barcelona, ​​very cheap, and it's definitely worth it. This is a very characteristic restaurant where you can taste lots of tapas for very little money! The staff is super-charged and easy-going, they can't wait to have a drink with you! We ordered the pan con tomate (inevitable), an ensalada de tomate y ventresca, a tortilla al cabrales (a reinterpretation of the classic tortilla de patatas, served with a goat cheese), a small platter of really exceptional serrano jamon and two beers averages for a total of 29.25 €. If you are in Barcelona you can not pass by here, but remember that they do not take reservations and it's always very crowded!

  • La Lola

La Lola is a restaurant located on the roof top of Arenas de Barcelona, ​​where we stopped for lunch before heading back to the airport: in fact, right in front of the shopping center, there is the aerobus stop. We ate with a splendid view of the city from above while enjoying our latest paella (mixed of course), and while we waited we took advantage of it for a last portion of papas bravas and pan with rounds; to finish a Catalan cream. We payed € 56 with also three medium beers.

  • Bodega Vasconia

Bodega Vasconia is a small tavern in the Barri Gòtic that we discovered by chance in the narrow streets of the Ciutat Vella. Here, too, no reservations, but with a little patience we were able to find a table for two. Here the specialty is definitely fish and we therefore took advantage of it for a paella de mariscos that we had not yet tasted!

Barcelona's food market

  • La Boqueria

Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcellona, Spagna

The Boqueria Market is one of the most famous and visited attractions in Barcelona, ​​located on La Rambla: here you will find many tapas bars and stalls of typical products that will offer you spoiled for choice. In the tapas bars you can eat on the spot sitting on stools at the counters, otherwise you can enjoy many tastings from different stalls trying various delights: from typical hams, to papas bravas. Once here, you absolutely cannot leave without tasting the typical fruit smoothies and colorful packs of cut fruit ready to eat: it is ideal for quenching your thirst and refreshing yourself on hot days in the city and they are delicious!

Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcellona, Spagna

You will find the market open from Monday to Saturday, from 8 to 20:30, but only a few stalls are open throughout the day. Most are open from 8 to 14:00 during the week and until 18:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. The best time to visit the Boqueria Market is in the morning, when the market works at full capacity, but lunchtime is also a good time because you can take advantage of it to eat here, even if it's quite crowded. We love markets, and this is a real must: we took the opportunity to have lunch trying a little bit of everything while walking, without spending a lot! I highly recommend you to try the serrano jamon and some cheeses, delicious, but also the empanadas, fruit and fish. We practically tasted a bit of everything!

  • Mercat de Santa Caterina

The Santa Caterina Market is a slightly smaller and lesser known version of la Boqueria, located in the Ciutat Vella, but equally fascinating and worth a visit. Here, too, the advice is the same: spend the morning or at lunchtime to try a little bit of everything at great prices while strolling through the stalls. If you prefer you can also stop in one of the Tapas Bars, but we recommend you to wander around and take a nice culinary tour. The Santa Caterina market is characterized by its roof decorated with a colored mosaic, which incorporates the colors of fruit and vegetables but at the same time, is a tribute to Gaudì: the motif in fact recalls the colored mosaics found in many of its works. The hours of the Santa Caterina Market change according to the days:

  • Monday,Wednesday and Saturday: 7:30 - 15:30

  • Tuesday, Thursday and Friday Giovedì e Venerdì: 7:30 - 20:30

During the summer, opening hours may change: it's better to check the updated openings on the official website.

  • Port Vell Food Market

The Port Vell Food Market is a market set up in Port Vell, and is one of those markets for local delicacies that you only find on weekends. Nothing to do with the Mercat de la Boqueria or that of Santa Caterina, but it offered us a nice walk back from Barceloneta with delicious smells. In fact, we definitely let ourselves be tempted and ate some excellent churros with caramel (€ 8). If you happen to be there on the weekend, it's definitely worth a visit, perhaps going to or returning from the beach: it is ideal for a mid-day snack!

Chiringuitos in Barceloneta

Chiringuitos in Barceloneta, Barcellona, Spagna

Thinking of a Chiringuito you will think of a rustic wooden kiosk on the beach where you can find drinks and some snacks: well, you won't find any in Barcelona. The Chiringuitos in Barceloneta have definitely evolved and have become sophisticated places where you will find real menus that also offer complete meals and a myriad of cocktails. Those located on the beach towards La Vela are a little more similar to the classic Chiringuitos, while under the Vela they are now real restaurants, but they are also very well suited for a simple cocktail, an excellent sangria and to tease some tapas. In fact, they remain the ideal place to enjoy a beautiful sunset after a day at the beach. You will find them open from April to the end of October. Those on the beach were very full when we went there, so we continued on to the Vela stopping at the Chiringuito Pez Vela. The place is splendid, very special, it really deserves, but it is certainly not cheap: a jug of white sangria and some snacks cost us € 20!

Bar in Barcelona

Barcelona is a lively, youthful city with a lot of possibilities when it comes to having fun and nightlife. The best areas to go for the happy hour or after dinner for a drink are definitely Plaça Reial, a beautiful square full of clubs, even if perhaps a little too touristy for us, La Ribera - El Born and Barceloneta. In these last two districts you will find many bars and clubs where you can enjoy excellent drinks, sangria and some tapas.

One of my favorites is definitely the Sincopa, in the Barri Gòtic: we found it by chance on our way back to the hotel after dinner and we immediately stopped charmed by the colors of the place. The place is colorful and very particular, small, and mostly frequented by locals. They have some very interesting and alternative drinks, you definitely have to try some! Excellent value for money and ideal for an after dinner drink!

Now that you know how and where to eat in Barcelona, ​​it's time to plan your itinerary in the city. If you are interested in a 3-days-itinerary (more than enough to explore the city center and the main attractions) click here - Barcelona - 3 days itinerary to discover this vibrant Spanish city. If you want to know more about the wonderful works of Antoni Gaudí (Casa Battló, La Pedrera - Casa Milà, Palau Güell, the Sagrada Família and Parc Güell), you should definitely read my post dedicated to Antoni Gaudí's Barcelona - Antoni Gaudí's Barcelona. If, on the other hand, you are still planning your trip and you need practical information such as where to stay, how to get around in Barcelona or useful tips on how to save money, here is the post for you - Planning your weekend in Barcelona: useful tips and tricks for a low-cost trip

¡Hasta pronto!



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