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One of the best reasons to visit the bustling city of Barcelona is to experience truly authentic Catalan cuisine. Traditional Catalan food is relatively simple and humble, and yet it never fails to be packed full of flavour thanks to the use of fresh, high-quality ingredients from land and sea.

The Best Authentic Catalan Cuisine in Barcelona

In this article, we'll show you twelve authentic Catalan dishes you should try while enjoying our delicious Barcelona food and drink experiences.

Pa amb tomàquet

This simple and delicious side dish consists of slices of crusty toasted bread rubbed with the flesh of tomato, drizzled in olive oil and seasoned with sea salt. Small and potent tomàquets de penjar are used to impart maximum flavour. Pa amb tomàquet is often eaten alone as a snack, as a side with soups and stews, or as a vehicle for cured cold meats, roasted vegetables and other small dishes. In some restaurants, you might be served the bread, tomatoes and toppings separately so that you can make your own, tailored to your tastes.

Esqueixada de bacallà

Dried, salted cod has been eaten in Spain since the middle ages and it is still used frequently in Catalan cuisine. Esqueixada de bacallà is a light, fresh dish in which the salted cod is shredded and served as a salad with fresh chopped tomatoes, olives and olive oil. It's a flavourful and refreshing light bite for hot summer days.


Red peppers, aubergine and onions are cooked on hot embers to develop a delicious smoky flavour before being peeled, torn into strips and served cold drenched in olive oil. Escalivada is a popular appetizer that goes brilliantly with pa amb tomàquet, but you'll also frequently find it on tapas menus as a dish to share over a few drinks.

Escudella i carn d’olla

Translating roughly as "two-course soup", escudella i carn d’olla has been a popular Catalan dish for centuries. Chunks of meat and bone - often pork, beef or chicken - are boiled with herbs, vegetables, chickpeas and pilota (a type of meatball) to produce a delicious broth. These ingredients are then removed and pasta is cooked in the broth to create a soup. The soup is served as a first course, and the meat, vegetables and chickpeas are served on a platter as a second course.

Calçots amb romesco

Calçots - long, thick green onions - are grilled over hot embers until a charred layer forms on the outside. You peel away this blackened coating and dip the smoky flesh of the onion in a delicious romesco sauce. Romesco is made with roasted tomatoes, dried red peppers, garlic, almonds, hazelnuts, breadcrumbs, vinegar and olive oil. This dish can be messy to eat but that's all part of the fun. You usually eat calçots outside and in a group, with plenty of wine to go around.

Arròs negre amb allioli

There's no doubt that you're familiar with the Spanish rice dish paella, but arròs negre amb allioli is a uniquely Catalan alternative that must be sampled. Prepared much like a paella in a large, shallow frying pan, the rice is cooked with squid ink which imparts a sweet rich flavour and an intense jet black hue. The dish will often include the squid itself in addition to other seafood such as prawns, mussels and clams. Allioli - a type of garlic mayonnaise - is served on the side to balance the dish.

Canelons de carn

This dish originated in the 19th century when Italian chefs began working in Barcelona and brought their beloved cannelloni with them. The Catalan version uses roasted meats - often pork, beef, chicken or duck - rather than mince, and features a bechamel sauce and sprinkling of cheese instead of the typical Italian tomato sauce. Canelons de carn are often served on December 26th because they're a delicious way to use up any leftover roasted meats from Christmas dinner.

Suquet de pescadors

This humble monkfish and potato stew originated from the Costa Brava where fishermen would cook up whatever fish that was in least demand at the market which, many years ago, was often monkfish. Today, monkfish is one of the most popular and expensive varieties of fish, but it remains the traditional ingredient in suquet de pescadors.

Cargols a la llauna

Snails are an integral part of Catalan cuisine and you'll find them on menus across Barcelona prepared in a multitude of different ways. One of the most popular snail dishes is cargols a la llauna. "La Llauna" means "the tin pan" - it refers to the way in which the snails are roasted in the oven on a baking sheet after being drizzled generously with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and parsley.

Mongetes amb botifarra

In many ways, mongetes amb botifarra is considered a national dish of the Catalan region. It's a simple and delicious dish frequently eaten in the country that consists of grilled pork sausage with white beans which are cooked until perfectly tender. Allioli is usually served on the side.

Crema catalana

Similar to creme brulee, this popular dessert consists of creamy lemon and cinnamon custard that is topped with sugar and baked to create a hard, thin crust. It differs from creme brulee in that milk, eggs yolks and starch are used to make the custard rather than whole eggs and cream. Legend has it that nuns accidentally created crema catalana when they served a failed flan to a bishop who visited their convent. It went down a storm and has been a beloved dessert ever since.

Mel i mató

Mató is a soft, fresh cheese that has been produced in Catalonia since medieval times. It can be made with goat or cow milk, or a combination of the two. It is often served as a dessert with lashings of honey and a sprinkle of nuts. It's a sweet and simple way to end a meal or to indulge in as a quick snack.

Barcelona Food and Drink Experiences

One of the best ways to truly experience authentic Catalan food is to take a food tour with a Barcelona native. Check out our food tours and experiences in Barcelona now to discover your perfect Catalan cuisine adventure.

My Trip to the Best Tapas Bars in Barcelona

Prepare your taste buds for a flavourful journey through the vibrant city of Barcelona, where tapas reign supreme. Read this article My Trip to the Best Tapas Bars in Barcelona for a personal journey through the tapas bars in Barcelona

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