| A mini guide to eating in Barcelona |
Before heading to Barcelona, we did a LOT of research, reading review after review on various foodie websites to pick the places that tickled our tastebuds the most. We only had three and a half days, so we didn’t get to eat everywhere we wanted to but I thought I’d share my findings and hard work to make your food-decision-making much easier than mine! Mmm Tapas.
I started by geeking out over a map of Barcelona (I had a lot of free time…), adding all the restaurants that were potential options (all the blue squares) as well as all the bars (black diamonds). I then circled in red all the places we wanted to see, so that we could see which restaurants etc were closest to save ourselves going backwards and forwards across the city! The map shows all the places that had great reviews/ looked awesome – we only ate at a handful (all reviewed on my TripAdvisor), so for those of you that are lucky enough to spend more than three days in Barcelona, hopefully you can try out a few more than we did 🙂
PS. I have also done a drinks guide for those of you who prefer a liquid lunch!
First up, the most important meal of the day…
Catalonians don’t really believe in breakfast (as such..) and many places will offer a brunch menu running from 10am ish – 4pm ish. They’ll then have their dinner menu which will start at 7-8pm and will run late in to the evening. We were up bright and early each morning to cram as much as possible in to our days, so finding good places for breakfast was important! I’ll list where we ate below:
- CAFE EMMA
This was the first place we went for breakfast and chose it due to reading some good reviews on TripAdvisor, but also because it was a handy five minute walk from our hostel. It’s open from 8am too, which was perfect for us early risers! The place has a great, classic French feel to it (thanks to the influence from the French chef/ co-owner) and serves a variety of pastries and sandwiches on their breakfast menu. We opted for a selection of pastries with a side of fruit and natural yoghurt. Cafe Emma has an upmarket feel to it, without an upmarket price tag. We spent a total of €10 between us, so around £3.50 each. The coffees looked great, but I struggled to find anywhere in Barcelona (aside from Starbucks..) that offered soya milk so I went coffee-less most of the trip! 🙁 The pastries were good (can’t go wrong with a pain au chocolat!) but I wouldn’t recommend the fruit. It was all rather soggy and the texture of canned fruit – edible but not the big, market-fresh bowlful I was hoping for!
- PETIT POT
Petit Pot was the breakfast venue of choice for my birthday as the prices weren’t quite as budget-friendly as some of the others we’d looked at but it had great reviews and it looked like our cup of tea (excuse the pun..). We weren’t disappointed – it’s a great little cafe/ bistro with a shabby-chic vibe and tiny open kitchen in the middle. I spent the first 10 minutes pointing at pretty much everything, saying ‘I NEED those’/ ‘We HAVE to get some of these for our house!’
The food was pretty good too – a perfect birthday breakfast with croissants, bocadillos, eggs, toast, cheese, tomatoes, coffee and fresh juice! They also do a few different breakfast deals (see menu below) where you get a tea or coffee included in the price of your croissant (€2.50) or focaccia (€3.60) etc. I went for the full works (it was my birthday..) and opted for ‘breakfast with eggs’ – scrambled eggs, roasted tomato, bacon*, manchego cheese and toast, with coffee AND freshly squeezed orange juice. Breakfast of champions!
*Gary ate the bacon!
We stumbled upon this little local eatery by accident, whilst heading from our hostel to the Metro station. It was packed full of people and the menu seemed crazy cheap, so we thought we’d check it out! The bocadillos were around €2 each – the usual ham/ ham and cheese etc combinations and pastries a bargain at €1.50 a croissant! This was a grab and go brekkie, so no pictures unfortunately but would definitely recommend for a backpacker-budget breakfast!
Although not on a strict backpacker budget for this trip, we were still aiming to spend as little as possible. For most of our lunches we bought food from the local markets or supermarkets, rather than eating in restaurants. This worked out to be a great way to save money; we had lunches of fruit, salads, freshly baked bread, cheeses, local meats, beer and fruit juice and never spent more than €8 each. You could easily get by on €5 for lunch!
- BOQUERIA MARKET
Boqueria market should definitely be on your must-see list if ever heading to Barcelona. It takes a good 10 minutes to wind up and down the aisles within the market, with each row packed full of local produce – from cured and (sometimes unidentifiable) meats, fruits, chocolates, vegetables, fish and more. There are also small bars/ restaurants towards the end where you can perch on a stall and enjoy some fresh, local tapas! We’d been advised by friends who had been before, to avoid getting food on the outskirts of the market as it’s much more expensive than in the market itself. If you don’t fancy a sit-down meal, there are lots of different ‘finger foods’ to try as you weave your way around – small cones filled with cured ham and fries, intricate sushi, small chorizo sausages on sticks and sweet snacks. I was particularly pleased to find chocolate covered strawberries on one stall!
One handy tip is that you’ll find the prices decrease as you get further in to the market. Pots of fruit and fresh smoothies and juices are very popular and are abundant throughout the market; you’ll find pots for €2 at the entrance, but half that towards the end! Gary bought a beer for around €3.50 at the entrance but we later found cheaper options in the centre at around €2 a beer. It’s definitely worth a visit for a cheap lunch if you are travelling on a budget.
On our first day in Barcelona, we wanted to have a tapas lunch (when in Rome, right?) so looked to find somewhere that would be nearby to the areas we wanted to see on that day. We decided to head to Tosca, a small tapas bar opposite the Palau de la Música. Their menu has a lot of choice (including for veggies, hurrah!) and all for a reasonable price. It seemed popular with the locals too, and was almost completely full when we arrived around 2.30pm. After painful deliberation we settled on four dishes; Mini lasagne, meatballs in an almond sauce (the sauce was incredible!!), montaditos with rocket salad and parmesan and a chef’s salad. The four dishes turned out to more than we were expecting and we would probably opt for just three next time! Beers are really cheap too – large bottle of Estrella was around €2. It was the perfect choice for a relaxed tapas lunch, as we planned the rest of our afternoon!
As this wasn’t technically a ‘backpacker’ trip for us (more of a birthday getaway), we looked at a range of places to eat in the evenings – from budget restaurants that came highly recommended, to six course gastronomic experiences. We didn’t focus on price, and instead chose the places which appealed to us most and had the best sounding menus. In the end, we happened to pick all budget to mid-range restaurants and each and every one was amazing!
- CERA 23
We had a table booked at Cera 23 for our first night, but never actually managed to eat here. It was high on my list and I was really excited to check it out but sadly the giant Tosca lunch (see above!) had left us so stuffed that we couldn’t face eating again – even at 7.30pm! The staff were lovely, and were really grateful to us deciding not to eat in the end as the place was buzzing with people trying to get tables – it’s clearly very popular! I thought it was still worth a mention as the menu looks great and the food smelt delicious. Plus, we stayed for a cocktail (fresh passion fruit mojito) which turned out to be one of the best cocktails we’d ever had!
After leaving Cera 23, we ended up on a mini cocktail-crawl through the Gothic Quarter. When weaving our way home at 10.30pm, the food smells creeping out of the many restaurants that line Passeig de Gracia soon reminded us that we hadn’t eaten yet. We ended up apprehensively walking past a tapas bar called Txapela (we later found out there’s a couple in Barcelona) which was bustling with locals and serving a type of tapas called Pintxos, where everything is piled on to small slices of bread and then speared with a small stick. There was SO much to choose from (51 savory and 15 sweet to be precise) and the place had a great vibe; really chilled out, with chatty waitresses, lots of laughter and beer flowing! You study the menu, decide what you want and then let the waitress know the numbers of the items you would like. They then run to the open kitchen and around the bar, which is lined with different Pintxos behind a glass screen and grab your selection of hot and cold tapas. Each item was between €1 -€2, and the beer €2, so it was a delicious and cheap end to a long and wonderful first day in Barcelona!
Ziryab is a middle eastern fusion tapas restaurant located in the Gothic Quarter. I’d heard good things about their food, but more specifically about a set menu that they offer. You can opt for a delicious five course set menu with four accompanying wines at a bargain price of €32.50 per person! Again, not a backpacker price, but still great value for the amount of food and wine you get. After checking the menu briefly, we promptly ordered the set menu and waited for the first course to arrive. The restaurant decor was beautiful – very intimate, with the walls painted with maps and embellished with candles. We had mentioned it was an early birthday celebration when making the booking and we were given the best table in the restaurant, sectioned off from the others with a sheer curtain, which was amazing! The set menu included a glass of cava, small glass of red and white and a glass of desert wine. We got spiced nuts, marinated cheeses, a big selection of dips with pitta bread (I’m a massive dip fan so this was an excellent choice for me!), a starter (we had falafel with haloumi) then a main, dessert and mint tea. It’s a lot of food!
- RESTAURANT 336
We hadn’t been able to find a website or have a look at some menu examples online beforehand, but the photos and reviews were so good, that we thought we’d give it a try anyway! Alongside a standard menu, there’s a tapas and set menu; we opted for the latter. For €27 each we each had a glass of cava, fresh bread with garlic and tomato, starter, main, desert and coffee.. AND 1/2 bottle of wine (champagne in my case!). Amazing value as everything was delicious and the portions are huge!
We felt a little sorry for the waitress when a lady next to us kicked up a fuss about her food (completely unjustified), but witnessed some amazing customer service afterwards – especially when the chef appeared to check everything was OK! Read more about what happened on my TripAdvisor.