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Any authentic food and drink experience in Barcelona, wouldn’t be complete without traditional Spanish tapas. These selections of small dishes are a widely-recognised culinary tradition and an experience to enjoy time and time again during your stay. While you might have had tapas where you live, you're in for a whole new experience in one of Europe's most popular cities.

As with most cultural traditions, tapas has an origin story for you to savour and enjoy. Here you’ll get to learn more about tapas, what it is and its history, as well as how to make the most of Spanish tapas in Barcelona.

Get ready to set your taste buds alight and enjoy sampling the very best Spanish tapas with our Barcelona food and drink experiences.

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What is tapas?

Tapas is the plural form of ‘tapa’, and generally refers to a small appetiser or snack. While some people will enjoy tapas before a meal or as an afternoon snack, tapas can also be made into a meal. Many people will visit a number of bars and restaurants for tapas in one evening, known as ‘ir de tapas’.

Tapas can be many types of dishes, but they tend to be savoury and small in size to be considered authentic tapas. Dishes include meats, bread, cheeses, fish and other accompaniments like vegetables, served in smaller portions that are ideal for sharing or to have by yourself. It’s a great way to enjoy Spanish food and to soak up the atmosphere in Barcelona, where tapas is a firm part of the culture.

What is the history of tapas

This origin of tapas isn’t as clear-cut as you’d think. There are some disputes over where tapas originated, and most regions in Spain will consider themselves to be the birthplace of tapas.

But while the disputes rage on, there are some clues as to where the name tapas came about. The word ‘tapa’ actually means ‘lid’ and the verb ‘tapear’ means ‘to cover’. One of the most popular stories about the origin of tapas is that bar staff would cover their customers’ drinks with a piece of bread, ham or cheese to stop dust and flies getting in their drinks - becoming a literal lid for drinks.

However it started, the custom of eating tapas not only spread through Spain, but across the world too.

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What are the most popular tapas dishes?

As part of your visit to Barcelona, you should try to sample as many different tapas dishes as possible. There are a lot of incredible dishes to try, and you can be sure that each bar and restaurant will have its own specialities and popular bites to sink your teeth into.

Some of the most popular tapas dishes in Barcelona include:

Tortilla de patatas

A Spanish-style omelette typically made with potatoes.

Patatas bravas

Seasoned fried potatoes served with a spicy bravas sauce and garlic aioli.


A type of cured seasoned sausage.

Croquetas de Jamón

Ham croquettes made with a creamy bechamel sauce.

Calamares a la Romana

Fried squid rings often served with aioli or a dipping sauce.

Gambas al ajillo

Garlic-infused prawns that are simple but delicious.

Bread, cured meats, cheese and fish are also heavily featured on most tapas menus.

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Spanish Tapas in Barcelona

Now that you know a little more about tapas, you’re ready to discover all of the tasty delights that Barcelona has to offer.

One thing to know for certain is that you won’t be short of tapas spots in Barcelona. Some will be busy bars where you’ll have to jostle for a table and to place an order, but that’s all part of the fun. There will also be restaurants where it’s easier to get a table and waiter service.

Whether you’re looking for a spot for lunch or a late afternoon snack, stopping for some tapas in Barcelona is a great way to soak up the city and get to know the different neighbourhoods.

Where to eat tapas in Barcelona

Tapas is the perfect way to explore Barcelona. No matter which area you’re in, you’ll be able to find somewhere that does a variety of tapas, usually with outdoor seating to be able to soak up the vibrant atmosphere.

Many restaurants will claim to be the home of ‘the best tapas in Barcelona’, but the truth is it’s very hard to pick one great restaurant - there’s too much choice! But if you are on the lookout for some great tapas, some of the areas you’ll want to try include:

  • Gracia - a district with a small village feel with a fantastic vibe and plenty going on through the summer months.
  • Poblenou - close to the sea and very lively, you’ll find a lot of busy and recommended tapas bars here.
  • The Gothic Quarter - located in the heart of Barcelona, it’s the perfect setting to enjoy tapas and explore the city.
  • Las Ramblas - one of the most popular tourist spots in Barcelona. There’s a lot going on that will make it a must-visit spot for your trip.

Barcelona has plenty of amazing neighbourhoods waiting to be discovered. A tapas tour could be the perfect way to get to know the history of the area and learn more about Spanish food and culture. It will also mean you get to discover some lesser-known places you may not have found without the aid of a local guide.

Enjoy tapas with Barcelona food and drink experiences

Barcelona is the perfect destination if you want to enjoy fabulous food and drink while taking in one of the best cities in the world. Tapas is something you’ll never get bored with, although there are plenty of other great restaurants and cuisines to sample in Barcelona too.

A food and drink experience in Barcelona can be the ideal way to sample some authentic, tasty Spanish tapas. Tour guides can help take you around the city and discover the best food and drink in Barcelona, leaving you a tapas expert by the end of your trip. Take a look at some of the incredible Barcelona food experiences we have at tabl. and start planning your visit.

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Visiting Barcelona for the First Time

Planning your first trip visiting Barcelona? Enhance your experience with these amazing travel tips by reading the article Visiting Barcelona for the First Time.

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