What to eat in Barcelona? Food is an essential part of the Barcelona experience, but unlike the rest of Spain here the “tapas” culture is not very popular. Here you’ll find a complete guide to help you experience the best of the local gastronomy.
What to eat in Barcelona: is there a tapas culture?
Whenever you think about Spain and its gastronomy, the first idea that comes to one’s mind is tapas. Just as you would think about pasta for Italy and curry for India, tapas are a synonym for Spain.
You are probably wondering what they are. Tapas are “little dishes” or snack-size foods that can be eaten all around Spain. The combinations of ingredients are infinite and you’ll find as many tapas in Spain as you can imagine.
Eating tapas is part of Spanish culture and a way of socializing. You will come across great tapas from Galicia up in the north to the Canary Islands in Africa, opposite Morocco.
However, In Barcelona the tapas culture doesn’t have the same tradition as in other cities of Spain. Alas, in Barcelona salir de tapas or “bar hopping” is considered something only outsiders do.
That being said, if you want to experience tapas culture in an environment that is not frequented exclusively by tourists, take the Metro and go to Carrer Blai, a street full of great tapas bars and where you’ll have a funny and delicious experience.
What to eat in Barcelona: breakfast time
In Barcelona you can have breakfast in the hotel or in any bar or bakery.
Most bakeries and cafés offer promotions during breakfast hours, usually advertised by a sign posted at the door of the establishment. Breakfast proposals usually include a coffee (or latte) and a toast or a pastry (croissant, muffin) or some other combination that may also include a juice.
What to eat in Barcelona: almuerzo
Before lunch itself, some Barceloneses stop to eat something around noon – what we call in Spain “mediodía” (or literally, mid-morning). This stop is known in Barcelona as a almuerzo, a term that can be quite confusing because it may also refer to lunch…
What to eat in Barcelona: comida
The main meal of the day is the dinar (lunch or comida in Spanish). The time that locals usually have lunch is between 14:00 and 15:30. In places in the interior of Catalonia it will be difficult to find some restaurant open before 14:00 and eating after 15:30 won’t be easy either.
As Barcelona is a city that receives many foreigners, the schedules of many restaurants will be adapted to more European customs. So you’ll find restaurants that open at 13:00. You’ll probably find only foreigners eating at that time, but if you’re hungry, you’ll have somewhere to eat.
What to eat in Barcelona: merienda
As it happens in the morning, in the middle of the afternoon you can have a snack, because the dinner time is also very late compared to the rest of Europe. This is particularly true during weekends, when most locals do it. But you can also have it during weekdays.
A perfect place to your merienda is a granja. A granja is a place that used to be a “dairy shop” (lechería in Spanish), where cows were milked and the milk distributed. Nowadays these places have the same denomination and vocation, but they are something typically Catalan. So you won’t find them anywhere else in Spain.
Granjas could be defined as a very traditional kind of confectionery, where dairy-derived delicacies are served. Most people order a pastry, a hot chocolate or a delicious dessert. In the summer, a great option is to go to a gelateria (heladería in Spanish), an ice cream shops.
What to eat in Barcelona: typical dishes
Among the many typical dishes of Barcelona there are ten delights that you should know.
- Pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato) is that a slice of bread, like Italian bread, toasted, in which a tomato is rubbed red and smaller than the one used in the salads. They can be served with a piece of embutido on top. An authentic delicacy!
- Escalivada. It is made with roasted red pepper, aubergine and onion, and seasoned with olive oil and garlic. It can be served on a large piece of toasted bread, smeared with olive oil, or as accompaniment to a main course of meats or fish. It’s usually served as a kind of appetizer before the meal.
- Coca de recapte. Cocas are very typical of the Catalan cuisine. They are a kind of thinly sliced pie, almost like a pizza dough. The coca de recapte is one of our favorites: on the dough, still raw, you will find tomato sauce, onion, aubergine, roasted red and green peppers in the oven, and pieces of some salty fish (herrings or anchovies).
- Butifarra. It’s a typical Catalan sausage made with ground pork and spices.
- Crema catalana. It’s made with milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornflour, lemon zest and cinnamon stick. Its special touch is the caramel crust, made with crystal sugar burnt with a torch.
What to eat in Barcelona: drinks
While you may have the preconceived idea that everyone in Spain drinks sangría and strong red wines, the truth is that the variety of beverages is larger and far more nuanced than you can imagine.
The following list provides information about some typical drinks that you can order while in Barcelona, all year round:
- Cerveza (beer): beer is so popular in Spain that the country is Europe’s 4th-largest producer of lager, and 10th in the world. Most Spaniards treat beer like a soft drink and consume it all year round. The most popular brand of lager in Barcelona is Estrella Damm brewed locally. You can also try other local beers such as Moritz.
- Clara: beer with some gaseosa, a mild flavored low-sugar carbonated lemonade. For a sweeter version try it with limón (lemon soft drink).
- Wine: Although Barcelona is not very famous for its wine, it has one denomination of origin: Cava. This sparkling wine is produced in the Penedès region and it’s lighter than French champagne, therefore making it easier to drink.
- Vermut. Vermouth has been a popular drink for a long time and you can find vermuterías pretty much everywhere. Try the house-made vermut made by traditional producers such as Yzaguirre, Miro, Perucchi, and Casa Mariol.
- Sangría: it consists of red wine, sugar, orange juice (or orange soft drink), chopped peach, orange and lemon and plenty of ice cubes. It used to be a very popular summer drink because it’s refreshing, cheap and easy to prepare. Nowadays, it is usually ordered by tourists at bars and restaurants where it is often served in large pitchers.
- Tinto de verano: often drunk in summer, this popular beverage is softer than sangría and is made with table red wine and gaseosa, as well as plenty of ice cubes. For a sweeter version try it with limón (lemon soft drink).
- Granizado: a semi-frozen soft drink, usually made with crushed ice and citric juice (the most popular being lemon juice). You can get one at ice-cream shops and bars during summertime.
Do you need more information on Barcelona?
This article is part of a complete guide about Barcelona where you can read all the information you need to plan your trip to this popular destination in Spain.
Here is a complete summary of all the guide:
1. When to visit Barcelona
2. How many days to spend in Barcelona
3. How to get to Barcelona
4. How to move around Barcelona
5. Barcelona hotels: where to stay in Barcelona
6. What to eat in Barcelona
7. What to do in Barcelona
8. Tips to visit the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
9. How to buy tickets to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
10. Tips to attend a FC Barcelona match
11. How to buy FC Barcelona tickets
12. Day trips from Barcelona
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