The Ultimate Food Lovers Guide to Barcelona
If you only know one thing about me, know this – I LOVE food. My dad is a total foodie and passed on his love of all this gastronomical to me. I plan my life around what I will eat and when I will eat it. And vacations – I don’t plan excursions, I spend hours researching the best restaurants to stuff my face the whole time I am on holiday.
This was my plan for Barcelona. I was going to eat amazing food the entire time. Unfortunately for me, I caught a cold on the first leg of the trip, which intensified on the nine-hour flight to Barcelona. By the time we arrived, I was a snotty, cold-filled mess. Not exactly ideal for chowing down.
But, I medicated, drank a ton of water and decided to get on with it. Admittedly, I didn’t consume nearly as much wine as I thought I would and I barely had dessert, but I still ate some pretty awesome food during my wonderful holiday. Today, I’m going to take you through a few places that we went to and what we ate.
On the street
Quick eats are super popular in Barcelona and I don’t mean fast food. Wander into any bakery or coffee shop and you will find amazing sandwiches on fresh bread for cheap. This sandwich was bought in a tiny pastry shop across the street from La Sagrada Familia for €2 and it was super simple but delish – potato tortilla on whole grain bread with lettuce, tomato and mayo.
Tapas did not originate in Barcelona, but that hasn’t stopped the city from fully embracing the culture. You will find tapas bars on every corner in Barcelona. Our first experience was at Teleferic, a few blocks away from our hotel. They had items to order from the menu and also a tapas bar where you could pick what you wanted to eat and bring it back to your table with you. It was a fun way to eat and not terribly pricey.
Other great tapas spots are the Sensi Group restaurants, Cuidad Condal near Playa Cataluyna and La Tasquta de Blai, which is more of a pinchos restaurant rather than tapas. Honestly, we didn’t eat a ton of tapas and that was mainly because I couldn’t handle eating all the grease.
As a massive French fry lover, I knew I would adore Patatas Bravas and I was right! These are basically small chunks of potatoes, fried until golden brown, then topped with an aioli and spicy bravas sauce. When I tell you I had these every single day, I’m not exaggerating at all. The best ones were on the first night at Teleferic but the ones I had at Mirablau were amazing as well
Pan Con Tomate
Another thing I ate daily while in Barcelona. And this is so simple – fresh bread spread with half a tomato and drizzled with olive oil. Basically, you cut the tomato in half and spread it onto the bread so that the seeds and juices come out, then add olive oil and salt. Some places toast it, some places don’t. Either way, this is delicious and was my favourite thing about Barcelona cuisine.
This is the largest food market in Europe and it was impressive. As it’s located just off Las Ramblas, it was super touristy but, locals visit regularly as well. Whatever you possibly wanted, it was available at La Boqueria – spices, fresh fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts, candy, ice cream, meats and the list goes on and on.
Even if you aren’t a foodie, this is a must visit market. You can grab a fresh juice at the entrance and walk around and nibble what’s on offer. Or, you can sit down at a tapas bar and enjoy the scenery. Shop owners are friendlier when you buy something.
This was my favourite part of Barcelona – all the little cafes on the sidewalks where you can stop and have a coffee, a glass of vermouth, a sandwich, dessert or simple tapas. There was a cute one right across from our hotel and we stopped one evening around 6pm for a drink before a late dinner. We grabbed a few glassed of sangria for just €1 each, a sandwich, patatas bravas and pan con tomato. Our bill was €16.
I found the sidewalk cafes to be a great way to people watch. Now many of them are super cheap and are basically bars with a small menu, however a lot of the nice restaurants also have outdoor seating, which kinda runs in the middle of the street on an open walkway where cars can’t drive it. It was actually really cool to see how many restaurants were like this in Barcelona. Super charming and fun.
If you look up towards the sky and away from the sea anywhere in Barcelona, you will see a mountain and a church at the top. Just a little ways down, there’s a bar on a cliff overlooking the city – Mirablau. A friend of mine who used to live in Barcelona recommended this to me but couldn’t remember the name of the place. In my research, I found it. And I’m so glad I did.
Mirablau affords arguably the best view of the city anywhere in Barcelona. Sitting on the edge of a cliff on Mount Tibadabo, Mirablau offers such an amazing experience and is incredibly romantic. While the food wasn’t stellar, the view more than made up for it and it wasn’t pricey. We ordered a bottle of Rioja, patatas bravas, pan con tomate, mushroom croquettes and salmon tartare for only €30.
If you do one thing in Barcelona, go up to Mirablau. You can either get the train from Playa Catalunya to Avenido Tibadabo and take the tram up or just get a taxi. It cost us €10 from Eixample. This is absolutely my top recommendation in Barcelona.
On our second to last evening in Barcelona, I had booked dinner at Agua on the beach. Unfortunately, the weather was terrible for the majority of the day and it was cold so I didn’t think dinner on the beach would be great. Our friends Perry and Victoria had arrived in Barcelona that day and we had planned to get together for dinner. A few weeks before, Perry suggested Via Veneto so I called them up and thankfully was able to make a dinner reservation.
Via Veneto has one Michelin star and is known as the grandfather of Catalan fine dining, having been in business for 50 years. It is a classic, timeless restaurant with incredible food. After being sick for the majority of the week, I wanted an amazing dinner and I certainly got that here.
Seasonal mushrooms with black truffles was my starter followed by fillet of beef in a rich black truffle sauce with a truffled cream sauce pasta. Dessert was the best I’ve probably ever had – chocolate and hazelnut fritters with cocoa veil and Thai ice cream.
The service was probably even better than the decadent meal, which is says a lot because the meal was outstanding. If you’re ever in Barcelona and want to be wined and dined in the old-school Catalan style, check out Vio Veneto.
Our night out with friends wouldn’t be complete without after dinner drinks. We headed to Boadas, just off Las Ramblas for a couple of drinks to end the night. Boadas is the oldest cocktail bar in the city with some of the most creative cocktails.
As they have no menu and we don’t speak Catalan or fluent Spanish, it was difficult at first so we ordered what we saw the person next to us drinking – ended up being too sweet. For the next round, Victoria chatted to the bartender who whipped up four different cocktails old fashioned cocktails using either vodka or scotch.
Boadas was loud, it was crazy and the drinks were fabulous. I would say this is a must visit in Barcelona for creative drinks and a local environment. We were the only tourists there so I think that says a lot about the calibre of the bar.
I had to have churros in Spain so based on a recommendation from Ben at Driftwood Journals, I headed over to Xurreria Trebol on our last day in the city. What I got were five crispy, sugary churros and a cup of hot, creamy, melted chocolate. I only allowed myself to eat three because, well let’s face it, churros aren’t exactly healthy. But they were oh so good and a great way to end my culinary adventure!