Updated April 2016
Where to eat in Barcelona
Being on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, it is not surprising that seafood is abundant in Barcelona and prominent in many local dishes.
La zarzuela, a combination of various fish and seafood (prawns, mussels, squid);
Suquet de peix, a soup based on cod;
Esqueixada de bacallà, if you prefer a cold salad: cod with pepper and olives.
Escalivada is made of grilled red peppers and eggplant, marinated in olive oil and garlic, and is excellent with anchovies, or as a relish to tuna dishes;
Nevertheless, a lot of traditional fare is based on meat.
Butifarra, a local, spicy, pork sausage;
Arròs a la cassola, a kind of Catalan paella (rice with chicken, onion, tomatoes, garlic, wine, and various aromatic herbs and powders);
La Pilota, which starts as a dough of bread and eggs, to which are added beef and spices;
Escudella i carn d’olla, a soup with various meats, vegetables, including rice and potatoes.
The word stems from the verb ‘tapar’ which means ‘to cover’. There are many stories to explain the origin of ‘tapas’, but most refer to the habit, some centuries ago, of covering the glass of wine with a piece of bread, or a piece of ham. Some say that it was meant to keep the flies away. Others, that legislation forced tavern keepers to provide something to eat, free of charge, to soak up the liquor and keep sailors from sudden drunkenness. More credible is the idea that giving something salty like cured ham or chorizo would provoke further thirst and increase the consumption of alcoholic drinks. Placing it on top of the glass would have been a lot more hygienic at a time when bar tops were not the cleanest thing around!
Tapas have become part of the Spanish eating culture. They are eaten as small snacks that are often combined to make a meal, or to be shared by a group of friends. You will find them everywhere in Barcelona, where locals stand at the bar and have a drink (a small draft beer: una caña; or a glass of wine: ‘una copa de vino’, also called a ‘chato’, when served in a low, wide glass. The menus may mention ‘raciones’, which are simply larger portions.
If you want to try the most acclaimed Barcelona “tapas” go to:
Top-quality tapas, but expensive. Must book through their website! It includes the menu prices.
Avinguda del Paraŀlel, 164 - Metro: Poble Sec
Other excellent alternatives:
This is a favourite among Barcelona residents and visiting tourists. A large establishment with a wide choice of tapas.
Carrer de Mallorca 236 - Metro: Diagonal or Passeig de Gràcia
The queues to get in at lunch and dinner times speak for the reputation of this tapas bar.
Plaça de les Olles 8 - Metro: Barceloneta
Quimet i Quimet
An old favourite, always busy, due to a popularity grown from the excellent tapas and wines that are a trademark of this family-run place.
Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes 25 - Metro: Paral.lel
El Rincón del Cava
The name says it all: 'cava' is the local champagne, used to wash down the delicious tapas. You can choose from a wide variety based on seafood, stuffed peppers, chorizo, cheeses, etc. This is not an expensive place, frequented by locals and students; most tapas cost less than €3.
Carrer de Blasco de Garay 53 - Metro: Poble Sec
Open Mon-Fri 9am-midnight, Sat 9am-3pm, 7pm-1am
One of the many Basque bars in Barcelona. Great value from the generous portions.
Carrer de Casanova 157 - Metro: Hospital Clinic
Open Mon-Sat 11am-midnight
In some places, tapas are sometimes called ‘pinchos’, a Basque variety of the same idea. They are very small portions served on a piece of bread with a toothpick holding the ingredients. Don’t throw away the toothpicks as the waiters count them to work out the bill!
Besides, Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city with an urban population of over four million, which includes a large immigrant population, from other parts of Spain, and from abroad, that brought with it foreign tastes that helped diversify the international cuisine of the city. The Spanish regions, the South American tastes, the Chinese and African arrivals, all contributed to a wide range of international cuisine. Barcelona has a bit of everything on offer. And, of course, McDonald’s and the other international fast food restaurants have a strong presence in Barcelona.
So, now that we have wetted your appetite where should you go?
Prices below are a rough average, in Euros, per person, including wine.
Torre de alta mar
Mediterranean cuisine, from high above over the port, with great views of Barcelona.
Passeig Joan de Borbó 88, tel: 93 221 00 07 - Metro: Barceloneta
Rías de Galicia / Espai Kru
Two connected restaurants: the first boasts the best Galician cuisine in Barcelona; the second is based on sophisticated raw products (seafood, carpaccio, vegetables) and Peruvian dishes.
Carrer Lleida, 7, Tel: 934 24 81 52 - 934 23 45 70 - Metro: Poble Sec
Price: Rias de Galicia: 80; Espai Kru: 70
El Passadis del Pep
Excellent meat dishes.
Pla de Palau, 2, tel:933 10 10 21 - Metro: Barceloneta or Jaume I
Hours: 1:30–3:30 pm, 8:30–11:30 pm
C/ Gran de Gràcia, 81, tel:932 184 230 / 935 155 151 - Metro: Fontana
International and French cuisine in a notable 'art nouveau' building, located in the Diagonal.
Avda Diagonal 423, tel: 932 02 06 86 - Metro: Diagonal
Japanese cuisine in the Born area. This restaurant has been awarded 1 star by Michelin.
c/ Copons, 7- Metro: tel: 934 12 79 39 - Metro: Jaume I or Urquinaona
Kitchen opening hours: 13:30 - 15:00 20:30 - 23:00
Closed on Sunday nights and Mondays
Specializing in seafood, meat, and excellent rice dishes. Located in the heart of the fishermen's port.
C/ de l'Escar, 22, Moll dels Pescadors - (Port Vell), Tel: 932 212 111 - Metro: Barceloneta
The best cocktails in Barcelona (and some say, in Spain). It has an attractive menu for diners.
Aribau 162, Eixample, tel: 93/217–5072 - Metro: Provença or Diagona
Hours: Mon.–Thurs. 1 pm–2:30 am, Fri. 1 pm–3 am, Sat. 6:30 pm–3 am, Sun. 6:30 pm–2:30 am
Japanese restaurant offering good quality fish specialities.
Passeig de Gràcia, 53 – Metro: Passeig de Gràcia or Diagonal
Les 7 Portes
Located in the Barceloneta, next to the fishermen's port from where the daily catches arrive.
Pg. Isabel II, 14, Tel:93 319 30 33 / 93 319 29 50 - Metro: Barceloneta
Kitchen hours: de 13:00 h. a 01:00 h. "WITHOUT INTERRUPTION"
A Casa Portuguesa
A popular restaurant combining Portuguese cuisine, and Spanish style tapas in its attractive wine-bar. Well worth a visit. Website with menu in www.acasaportuguesa.com
C/ Aragó, 111, tel. 932 262 577 - Metro: Rocafort or Tarragona
Mediterranean cuisine. The best 'paellas' in Barcelona
Almirall Aixada nº23, tel: 932 21 54 55 - Metro: Barceloneta
Meat and seafood at very reasonable prices.
Villarroel, 157, tel:934 53 10 46 - Metro: Hospital Clinic
Another quality restaurant right in the Paseo de Gràcia.
Paseo de Gràcia, 44 1.º, tel. 934 87 23 45 - Metro: Passeig de Gràcia
Opening hours: Kitchen open every day of the year from 13:00 h to 16:00 h and from 19:00 h to 00:00 h.
Excellent quality food at very low prices. A meeting place since 1890. Weekdays 3-course lunch menus including drinks at €9.95, in the centre of Barcelona. One of my favourites for the amazing value.
C/ Compte d'Urgell, 148, tel. 934 531 005 - Metro: Hospital Clinic
Many restaurants, especially small ones in the centre, have fixed-price lunch-time menus that range, typically, from 10 to 12 Euros for a 3-course meal selected from a wide choice of dishes. Usually, they include drink (wine, beer or soft drink), bread, and sometimes coffee. Menus for dinner, when they are available, are more expensive. If you are on a tight budget, have the menu for lunch, and replace dinner with tapas and a glass of wine.
Please, note that Spaniards tend to eat much later than the rest of Europeans. Even though many restaurants in Barcelona have adjusted their opening hours with a view to attracting tourists, remember that, in general, lunch-time is from 13,00h; and dinner from 21,00h.