It’s no surprise to hear that Barcelona’s a food lover’s paradise. As you wander through the bustling city streets, you’ll find yourself immersed in a culinary adventure that will tick every box on your foodie checklist.
And the city’s rich culture and history, combined with its diverse culinary scene, make it the perfect destination for food lovers from all over the world. After all, you can enjoy a wide array of dishes here that highlight traditional Spanish flavors as well as unique Catalan specialties.
And given I live in Spain so have been fortunate enough to go to Barcelona a bunch of times, I can assure you that I’ve made it my responsibility to test as much of the food on offer here as I can. I know, it’s a burden, but someone’s gotta do it…
While the city is home to some world-class restaurants, where you can treat yourself to innovative, modern cuisine from the region’s top chefs, Barcelona’s food scene isn’t just limited to traditional dishes and fine dining.
You’ll also find anything from small, random tapas places to the vibrant Mercat de la Boqueria, a bustling food market that offers an array of fresh produce, seafood, and mouthwatering treats to indulge in.
Of course, as you make your way through the city, whether on a Barcelona food tour or forging your own path, it’s always a good idea to pair your meals with a glass of local Catalan cava, as you take in al the flavors that have made Barcelona a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts around the globe!
Best food in Barcelona to try
Here are my picks of the best examples from Barcelona’s food scene that you have to try during your trip to this amazing city. From tapas to main dishes to desserts and drinks, you’ll definitely be able to fit more than a few of these into your food tourism!
Some are from Catalonia specifically while others are from other parts of Spain originally, but that I know you can find done well in Barcelona. And that’s particularly good if you don’t have the time (on this trip, at least) to see more of Spain – as you can get a taste of the entire country right in the one place!
In Barcelona, you’ll be able to find some of the best seafood paella you’ve ever had. This classic dish actually originated in Valencia and is made with rice, saffron, olive oil, and various meats, like chicken or rabbit – though, in my opinion, seafood is the way to go here.
Don’t miss out on this delicious meal that brings people together, as the shared experience is truly unforgettable. Or for an even better group activity, why not do a cooking class in Barcelona, so you can take your paella skills home with you?
Get ready to indulge in one of Spain’s most popular tapas, Patatas Bravas. In Barcelona, you’ll find these delicious fried potatoes smothered in spicy tomato sauce and aioli.
They’re crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside, and the perfect blend of flavors in every bite. Find this essential tapa at your favorite local bar.
When you’re exploring Barcelona’s tapas scene, a taste of Jamón Ibérico is a must. This prized Spanish cured ham comes from the Ibérico pig, and its rich, savory flavors will leave you craving more.
Savor thin slices atop fresh bread (a classic Barcelona breakfast if ever there was one!) or enjoy it on its own – either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Churros are a must-try sweet treat in Barcelona. Made from fried dough and sprinkled with sugar, this decadent dessert can be enjoyed with your morning coffee or as a late-night snack.
You’ll love dipping your churros in rich, velvety hot chocolate at one of the many churrerías dotting the city. It’s a Barcelona tradition you won’t want to miss!
One food on your to-try list has to be a local favorite, Crema Catalana. This scrumptious dessert, also known as crema de Sant Josep, is quite similar to crème brûlée.
But instead of vanilla, this creamy egg-based custard is flavored with cinnamon and lemon peel. The real star is the layer of burnt caramel on top, which adds a satisfying crunch with each bite.
A light and flavorful tapa to treat yourself to is escalivada, a Catalan favorite featuring roasted eggplant, peppers, and onions, finely sliced and drizzled with olive oil. Often seasoned with a touch of garlic, escalivada is a medley of colors, textures, and flavors, making it one of the region’s must-try dishes.
Enjoy it as a standalone plate, or as a topping on crunchy pa amb tomàquet (which I’ll get to in a moment!), unleashing your inner foodie as you savor the rich taste of Catalan cuisine.
Similar to paella, fideuà is a tasty alternative, especially if you’re a fan of noodles! And much like paella, this dish actually comes from Valencia – but you’ll definitely be able to find a good one here in Barcelona as well.
It basically swaps out rice with noodles and is made with fish and shellfish. The rich flavors are brought to life with garlic, paprika, and saffron – a must-try when visiting Barcelona.
Calçots and Romesco Sauce
One of the most exciting things about Barcelona’s food scene is the annual calçotada, a unique culinary experience during the winter months. Calçots are a type of onion, similar to leeks or scallions, grilled on an open flame until tender. The fun part begins when you peel away the charred outer layers and dip the succulent, smoky calçots into the tangy romesco sauce, a local specialty made from roasted red peppers, almonds, and hazelnuts. Whether at a traditional restaurant or a street fair, you won’t want to miss this mouthwatering delight!
Pimientos de Padrón
These small, green peppers from Padrón are a popular tapa in Spain. Some are mild, while others pack a spicy punch.
Take your chances as you munch on these blistered peppers served with a sprinkle of sea salt – it’s all part of the Pimientos de Padrón experience.
Gambas al Ajillo
Get ready for a seafood delight when you taste Gambas al Ajillo. This popular tapa features succulent shrimp cooked in olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes.
Barcelona’s bars and restaurants serve them sizzling hot, ensuring a mouthwatering feast for your taste buds.
If you’re in the mood for a unique drink, look no further than Gazpacho, more than just a cold soup, it’s also a delightful summer beverage. This Andalusian specialty made from ripe tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and other vegetables is an ideal way to taste Barcelona’s fresh ingredients.
It’s deliciously refreshing on a warm day, and a must-try for any foodie visiting Spain. Quench your thirst and satisfy your appetite all at the same time with this savory, healthy treat.
Sink your teeth into Tortilla Española, a delectable Spanish omelette made with eggs, potatoes, and onions. You’ll find slices of this staple tapa in nearly every bar in Barcelona – try it cold or warm, and enjoy its comforting flavors with a glass of wine or beer on the side.
While visiting Barcelona, don’t miss the opportunity to try Cava, the sparkling wine of Catalonia. This bubbly delight is produced using the same traditional method as champagne but at a fraction of the cost.
You’ll find a wide selection of Cava in most bars and restaurants, from elegant blanc de blancs to refreshing rosés. Remember to pair it with some tapas for a truly local experience.
In recent years, Vermut (vermouth) has witnessed a revival in Barcelona, evolving into a much-anticipated weekend ritual. In fact, some may say that this drink has become a staple in daily life, as friends and families gather with plates of tapas to enjoy a Sunday midday tipple.
Venture out to the local bars and share this Catalan tradition with the friendly locals. You might even find a new favorite flavor among the many artisanal varieties available!
No trip to Spain is complete without trying their famous Sangria – a refreshing mix of wine, juice, and fruits. In Barcelona, you’ll find innovative twists to this classic beverage, such as adding cava or local liqueurs.
Enjoy a glass (or a pitcher) with friends in the bustling atmosphere of Barcelona’s best bars and terraces. This delicious concoction is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day, and it’s impossible not to feel happier after sipping Sangria.
Indulge in the sweetness of turrón, a traditional Spanish dessert made from honey, sugar, egg whites, and almonds. Found in various textures and flavors throughout Catalonia, you can enjoy this treat in a soft or crunchy variety.
Whichever you choose, you’re sure to appreciate the rich, nutty goodness that accompanies the aromatic honey. It’s a particular must-buy during the Christmas season, so keep an eye out for some at your local Christmas market!
Pollo al Ajillo
Craving some tender, juicy chicken? Look no further than pollo al ajillo, a scrumptious garlic chicken dish.
The chicken is marinated in a mix of garlic, white wine, and herbs, then grilled or fried until golden brown. The result is a delicious combination of flavors that will have you reaching for seconds.
Pintxos are similar to tapas but originate from the Basque region. To try this food in Barcelona, head to Carrer Blai to find an array of pintxo bars serving delicious bites on small skewers, like salmon and asparagus or chicken curry.
These finger foods are perfect for sampling a variety of flavors while exploring the city.
Pan con Tomate
Nothing speaks more of Catalan cuisine than Pan con Tomate (or “pa amb tomàquet” in Catalan). This fresh and simple tapa consists of crusty bread rubbed with ripe tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt.
Enjoy it as a snack or alongside your other tapas for a truly authentic Barcelona experience. It’s also a very common choice for breakfast in Barcelona, which you can find at basically any corner cafe.
Botifarra is a quintessential Catalan sausage that you cannot miss when exploring Barcelona’s culinary scene. There are different types, such as botifarra negra (pork blood sausage), botifarra blanca (white pork sausage), and botifarra d’ou (white pork sausage with egg).
Each has its own unique flavor that pairs perfectly with traditional side dishes like pa amb tomàquet. Be sure to enjoy botifarra with a glass of refreshing Catalan Cava.
Calamares a la Romana
If you love seafood, don’t miss out on Calamares a la Romana – tender squid rings coated in batter and deep-fried until golden brown. Dip them in aioli or lemon juice and savor the crispy goodness of this seaside city’s favorite tapa.
Another seafood delight, Chipirones are small, tender squid that are often pan-fried or grilled whole. These tasty morsels melt in your mouth as their delicate flavors combine with a hint of garlic and parsley.
Croquetas are bite-sized, breaded, and fried delights filled with various ingredients like mushrooms, seafood, or Spain’s famous jamón. These crispy treats are a staple tapa in Barcelona, and you’ll find yourself reaching for more as their creamy centers burst with flavor.
Discover Esqueixada, a traditional Catalan salad made from shredded salt cod, ripe tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. It’s tossed in olive oil and vinegar, resulting in a refreshing and light tapa that is an excellent break from the heavier options.
Bacalao, or salt cod, is a staple ingredient in Spanish cuisine. You’ll find it served in various tapas like the aforementioned Esqueixada or fried as crispy bites.
You’ll definitely enjoy the flaky texture and delightful flavors of Bacalao while exploring Barcelona’s tapas scene.
Montaditos are small, open-faced sandwiches that allow you to try various toppings without committing to a full meal. Sample your way through Barcelona’s culinary wonders as you enjoy jams, meats, and cheeses atop fresh bread – every bite will be a new adventure.
Rabo de Toro
If you’re a meat lover, be sure to try rabo de toro, a delicious Spanish oxtail stew. Slow-cooked until the meat becomes tender and succulent, this dish features a rich sauce made with red wine, tomatoes, and spices.
With every bite, you’ll appreciate the depth of flavors in this satisfying meal.
For a refreshing palate cleanser, try salmorejo, a thick, creamy cold tomato soup. Made with tomatoes, bread, garlic, and olive oil, this Andalusian specialty is served chilled and often garnished with chopped hard-boiled eggs and Serrano ham. It’s the perfect summer dish on a warm Barcelona day.
Tarta de Santiago
Indulge your sweet tooth with tarta de Santiago, a classic almond cake named after Santiago de Compostela, an important pilgrimage site in Spain.
This moist, aromatic dessert is made with ground almonds, eggs, sugar, and zested lemon or orange, then topped with the iconic St. James cross. A delightful end to any meal during your Barcelona vacation!
Pulpo a la Gallega
For a taste of Spain’s northwestern region, Galicia, try pulpo a la gallega. This octopus dish is prepared by boiling the tender tentacles and serving them sliced, topped with olive oil, paprika, and sea salt. The melt-in-your-mouth texture and bold flavors make this dish a standout!
Canelons, or cannelloni, are a popular Catalan dish traditionally eaten during the holiday season. These pasta tubes are stuffed with minced meat, often combining pork and beef, then smothered in a rich béchamel sauce.
As you savor each delicious bite, you’ll appreciate why this comforting meal has become a beloved tradition.
Suquet de Peix
Get ready to savor suquet de peix, a scrumptious Catalan fish stew that will transport your taste buds to the coastal towns. This dish combines fish, shellfish, potatoes, tomatoes, and saffron in a mouthwatering broth.
Slow-cooked to perfection, the flavors meld together to create a heartwarming taste of Spain.
Dive into the unique flavors of arroz negro, a black rice dish made with squid ink that turns it a striking ebony color. Popular along the coast of Spain, this dish features squid, shrimp, and other seafood, cooked with rice and aromatic herbs.
Don’t let the color fool you – this bold dish is packed with delicious flavors!
Butifarra con Mongetes
Sink your teeth into the authentic taste of Catalonia with butifarra con mongetes. This traditional dish showcases grilled butifarra sausage served alongside mongetes, or white beans, often sautéed with garlic and olive oil.
A perfect combination of hearty and satisfying flavors, this dish is a must-try on your culinary adventure.
Explore the diverse world of coca, a Catalan specialty closely resembling pizza or flatbread. Perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth, dessert cocas are made from a sugary dough, topped with candied fruits, almonds or pine nuts.
Some variations even include a swirl of custard or a sprinkling of aniseed, making each mouth-watering bite a new adventure.
Sink your teeth into a warm, fluffy ensaïmada, a Mallorcan pastry made from flour, sugar, eggs, and lard. Delight in its spiral shape and delicate taste, often enhanced by dusting it with powdered sugar.
You can find these decadent pastries in bakeries across Barcelona, where they’re often filled with creamy mascarpone or other delectable treats.
Indulge in flan, a smooth and creamy caramel custard loved by locals and visitors alike. This delightful dessert is typically made by blending eggs, sugar, and milk.
The essence of the treat lies in the caramel sauce drizzled over the custard, creating a puddle of sweetness that you’ll surely savor.
When the warm Spanish sun leaves you in need of a cool treat, look no further than leche merengada, a frothy and refreshing milkshake-like drink.
Made from milk, egg whites, sugar, and cinnamon, this thirst-quenching dessert is perfect for a hot day. You can find it at ice cream shops, where it may also be made into a frozen dessert similar to gelato.
Mel i Mató
For a more natural and lighter touch, give mel i mató a try. This simple yet satisfying combination of fresh mató cheese drizzled with honey makes for a lovely dessert, perfect for a warm Barcelona afternoon. Not too sweet, yet full of flavor, I’m confident you’ll enjoy this authentic Catalan treat if you’re anything like me.
Why not treat yourself to panellets, small almond cakes that are a staple of Catalan confectionery/ Traditionally enjoyed during the All Saints Day festivities, these bite-sized sweets are made from marzipan and covered in a variety of flavors, such as coconut, chocolate, or candied fruit.
Don’t wait for the holiday to savor these delectable delights though – they’re too delicious to resist any time of year!
Served as a starter or a light meal, xató is a refreshing salad showcasing the best of Barcelona’s regional flavors. With a base of curly endive, the dish is adorned with salted cod, anchovies, and black olives.
The true star, however, is the xató sauce, which shares similarities with the romesco sauce but adds a twist of ñora peppers and a hint of vinegar. Dive into this zesty dish with gusto, and you’ll quickly understand why it’s a beloved part of Catalan cuisine.
Pair it with a chilled glass of Cava and experience the true essence of Barcelona’s food culture.
Another exquisite seafood dish to experience in Barcelona is zarzuela. This traditional Catalan dish features a medley of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans, simmered in a tomato-based sauce with onions, garlic, and white wine. Treat yourself to this enticing and flavorful feast from the sea!
What is the difference between Spanish and Catalan food?
Just like any country, regional dishes in Spain vary from one area to another. Catalan cuisine is like that charmingly unique cousin in the family of Spanish food. It’s known for its mix of fresh seafood from the Mediterranean, exquisite meats from the Pyrenees, and a variety of fruits and vegetables from the fertile Catalan countryside.
You’ll notice a love for “mar i muntanya” (sea and mountain) dishes that beautifully combine ingredients from the land and the sea. Think chicken with shrimp or rabbit with prawns!
Plus, you’ll find delicious sauces like “romesco” and “allioli” that will give a special touch to your dishes. Catalan cuisine isn’t afraid to experiment, and the results are absolutely scrumptious!
In essence, you’ll find that Catalan cuisine, originating from the autonomous region where Barcelona is located, often differs from what is typically associated with Spanish food.
On the other hand, when you think of Spanish cuisine, what comes to mind? Paella? Gazpacho? Churros? These dishes hail from different regions of Spain, but aren’t native to Catalonia. But it doesn’t make them any less great to eat, of course!
What is traditional Catalan food?
Catalan cuisine is characterized by its use of fresh, high-quality ingredients and a blend of flavors from the mountains and the sea. Among the traditional dishes, escudella i carn d’olla, a hearty meat and vegetable stew, stands out. Botifarra (a type of sausage) with mongetes (white beans) is another beloved dish in the region.
Additionally, the coastal influence brings dishes like suquet de peix, a flavorful fish stew.
On the sweet side, the aforementioned crema catalana is a staple, as well as turrón (a nougat dessert) around festive times.
From rich stews to light seafood dishes and tempting desserts, Catalan cuisine has a rich tapestry of flavors reflecting the region’s history and geography.
What is the dessert of Barcelona?
Prepare your sweet tooth, because Barcelona’s signature dessert is a dream. Introducing: Crema Catalana! It’s made with sweet custard, flavored with cinnamon and lemon or orange zest, and topped off with a thin layer of caramelized sugar that cracks delightfully when you break it with your spoon.
Often compared to crème brûlée, this tantalizing treat has its own unique flair. The contrast between the rich, creamy custard and the crunchy caramel is divine.
Which food is Barcelona famous for?
The culinary scene in Barcelona is nothing short of amazing, but if you had to choose one dish that defines the city, it would undoubtedly be Tapas! While Tapas are found all across Spain, Barcelona has turned it into an art form.
The city boasts a dizzying array of these small, appetizer-style dishes that are perfect for sharing with friends over a glass of local wine or beer.
Don’t miss out on patatas bravas, small fried potatoes smothered in a spicy tomato sauce and aioli. Or try “pimientos de padrón,” delightful green peppers that are fried and sprinkled with sea salt.
But one of the must-try tapas in Barcelona is definitely “pan con tomate” – rustic bread rubbed with ripe tomatoes, garlic, and drizzled with olive oil. Simple? Yes. But oh-so-delicious.
For seafood lovers, there’s “bombas,” potato and meat croquettes served with two sauces, and “calamares a la andaluza,” which are tasty fried squid rings. The variety is endless!
What are 3 breakfast foods in Spain?
Breakfast in Spain is a bit different than what you might be used to, but trust me, once you give it a try, you might never want to go back!
Let’s check out three Spanish breakfast favorites that will have you up with the sun, ready to start your day:
- Pan con Tomate: Yes, it makes an appearance in the morning too! This simple but flavorful combination of bread rubbed with ripe tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil, sometimes with a touch of garlic, pairs perfectly with a cup of strong Spanish coffee.
- Churros con Chocolate: Talk about a morning pick-me-up! These deep-fried dough sticks dusted with sugar and served with a cup of thick, rich hot chocolate for dipping are a surefire way to make your morning a little sweeter.
- Tortilla Española: No, not the type of tortilla you might be thinking of! The Spanish tortilla is a thick, hearty omelette filled with potatoes and sometimes onions. It’s typically enjoyed any time of day, but a slice in the morning with a piece of crusty bread is a filling, delicious way to kick-start your day.
Is tapas Spanish or Catalan?
Tapas are a quintessential part of Spanish cuisine, found across the whole country, from Andalusia in the south to Galicia in the north, and yes, right here in Catalonia too! The word “tapas” comes from the Spanish verb “tapar,” which means “to cover.”
The origin story says that tapas started as a slice of bread or meat used to cover a glass of sherry to keep the flies out. Talk about a tasty solution, huh?
Do Catalans eat tapas?
Absolutely, Catalans do eat tapas! The tapas culture isn’t as widespread in Catalonia as it is in some other regions of Spain, such as Andalusia. But don’t worry, you’ll still find plenty of places in Barcelona and across Catalonia serving up delectable tapas.
After all, Catalans, like the rest of Spain, appreciate the social aspect of sharing good food with good company.
And here in Catalonia, you may also find yourself encountering “pintxos” – small snacks originally from the Basque country that are typically served on a piece of bread, held together with a toothpick.
What is a Barcelona drink?
Thirsty for some local flavors? Say “hola” to Cava! This sparkling wine from the Catalonia region is the life of any party in Barcelona. Produced in the traditional method like Champagne, but with a more wallet-friendly price, it’s a win-win!
Cava is often enjoyed on its own, but it also stars in some fabulous cocktails, like the Cava Sangria – a refreshing twist on traditional sangria that’s perfect for those hot Barcelona summer days.
Not a fan of alcohol? No worries, Barcelona’s got you covered. Try “horchata,” a delightful drink made from tigernuts, sugar, and water.
It’s a sweet, milky treat that’s perfect for cooling off and is especially popular in the summer.
How do you eat like a local in Barcelona?
To eat like a local in Barcelona, the first thing you need to do is adopt the local meal schedule. Catalans tend to eat lunch, their largest meal of the day, between 2 and 4 PM, while dinner is often served after 9 PM.
Next, don’t shy away from trying local dishes! Go for “pa amb tomàquet” (bread with tomato), “botifarra amb mongetes” (sausage with white beans), and “fideuà” (a noodle paella) to savor authentic Catalan flavors.
And remember, dining in Barcelona is a social affair! Eating isn’t just about the food, it’s about the company, the conversation, and the overall experience.
So take your time, enjoy your meal, and when in doubt, order a variety of dishes to share!
What is a popular lunch in Barcelona?
Lunch is the main meal of the day in Barcelona, and it’s usually enjoyed from around 2 to 4 PM. A popular option is the “menú del día,” or “menu of the day” This typically consists of a starter, a main course, and a dessert, often accompanied by a drink
(And yes, that can include a glass of wine or beer!)
The dishes on offer vary, but you might start with a traditional Catalan salad or “escudella,” a hearty meat and vegetable stew. For the main course, how about “bacallà a la llauna” (baked salt cod with tomato and garlic)?
Finish it off with Crema Catalana for dessert and you’ve got yourself a delicious Catalan lunch!
What time is dinner in Barcelona?
Dinner in Barcelona is typically served much later than what many foreigners are used to, often starting around 9 PM and sometimes stretching into the wee hours of the night. Don’t worry, though! If you find yourself getting peckish around the time you’d usually have dinner, do as the locals do and enjoy some tapas or pintxos in the meantime.
Then you can dive into a late dinner, Barcelona style! I know, it can be a little jarring to adjust to the meal schedule in Barcelona! But I promise, it’s worth it.
What is a typical Barcelona dinner?
Dinner in Barcelona is typically lighter than lunch and is often served late, usually after 9 PM. One typical option is to “tapear” – going out for tapas. You can enjoy small plates of “patatas bravas,” “pimientos de padrón,” or “albóndigas” (meatballs) among others, all while enjoying the company of friends and family.
That said, there are plenty of main meals on offer too that are delicious, so perhaps ask your hotel for some local tips on where to eat near you to really savor the Barcelona food options.
Does Barcelona have cheap food?
Absolutely! Despite its reputation as a cosmopolitan city, Barcelona offers a range of dining options that can cater to all budgets. For more affordable meals, look out for “menús del día” in local restaurants, which offer great value for money.
You might also want to check out the city’s vibrant market scene. Places like Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria offer fresh, high-quality ingredients at reasonable prices.
Grab some local cheese, a loaf of fresh bread, some fruit, and you’ve got yourself a picnic ready to enjoy in one of the city’s beautiful parks!
Remember, eating in Barcelona isn’t just about fancy restaurants – it’s about enjoying the local cuisine in all its forms. So whether you’re splurging on a seafood feast or saving with a delicious bocadillo (sandwich), Barcelona’s food scene is sure to impress!
All in all, eating and drinking in Barcelona is an experience you won’t want to miss. Whether you’re sipping Cava at sunset, enjoying tapas at a bustling bar, or savoring a late-night dinner at a local restaurant, Barcelona’s culinary scene is sure to dazzle and delight you.