When it comes to food and drink experiences in Barcelona, Catalan cuisine goes beyond the traditions of Spanish tapas and paella. In fact, Barcelona food and drink tours will uncover an array of regional favourites. Where the local cuisine tastes even better washed down with a vintage bottle of vino, sourced from the nearby DO Alella wine region.
Catalans take their cuisine very seriously, with mealtimes playing an important role in the local culture and family way of life. Meanwhile, in Barcelona, it’s all about aperitifs and long relaxing tapas lunches. In particular, making the most of the locally grown produce such as aubergines, tomatoes, artichokes, chickpeas and beans.
Although even in this thriving city, you may still find authentic dishes that are rarely seen outside the Catalan capital. Among the traditional food of Barcelona are the likes of fideuà, a seafood dish similar to paella. As for dessert, we recommend going for the regional take on a crème brulée, the rich and indulgent Crema Catalana.
Food and Drink Experiences in Barcelona
One of the most exciting parts of food tourism in Spain is planning Barcelona food and drink tours ahead of your trip. After all, food and drink experiences in Barcelona range from contemporary cuisine and street food to fabulous high-end restaurants.
As such, giving you a wide range of choices from a guided food tour in the Gothic Quarter to an evening of tapas and flamenco dancing. When it comes to the more traditional chefs in Barcelona, dishes have often been handed down through the generations.
Although over the last decade, Barcelona has enjoyed a re-awakening when it comes to creating exciting new drinks. After all, in the summer there’s nothing better than sitting on a roof terrace, watching the world go by while enjoying a “tinto de verano”.
When it comes to the local delicacies, Barcelona’s chefs often use strong, fresh flavours. With the base for much of the cooking including garlic, onions, tomatoes and olive oil. Although tomatoes are a relative newcomer to the Barcelona kitchen, having only been introduced to Spain during the 16th century.
Where to Eat and Drink in Barcelona
Each neighbourhood in Barcelona has its own individuality, charm and characteristics. That’s why Barcelona food and drink tours are a great way to discover where the locals hang out. Whether that be the popular bars and restaurants of Born or the quieter backstreets and village feel of Gràcia.
Meanwhile, Eixample offers some of the more high-end, fine-dining options for food and drink experiences in Barcelona. Alternatively, Raval and Gòtic are in close proximity of each other, while providing contrast in the atmosphere.
The Gòtic Quarter is full of history and while it attracts the tourists, offers a fascinating history into Spain’s past. Meanwhile, the colourful and modern Raval neighbourhood is an eclectic mix of classic taverns and trendy tapas bars.
Elsewhere, Rambla del Poblenou is certainly aimed at the food tourism market. Famous for its boutique shops and popular restaurants, it certainly needs to be experienced at least once.
Whether it’s food and drink experiences in Barcelona with the locals or a private tour guide, there’s plenty of options with tabl.com.
Popular Food Experiences in Barcelona
Barcelona Food and Drink tours are a chance to enjoy every aspect of Catalan cuisine. Although, if you’re after an alternative to tapas, then choose an experience that offers “mar i muntanya”. This is a menu that includes dishes with seafood and other fresh regional products.
Even the Spanish favourite of paella has its own local twist, whereby the rice is turned black with squid ink.
As for an authentic food experience, how about a cooking class in Barcelona instead of eating out? Where you can learn to prepare a traditional Catalan dish with a local chef in their own home.
Cooking classes normally begin with a visit to the local market to purchase only the best produce. Then you will go back to the Chef’s home and learn how to prepare a gorgeous, authentic meal to enjoy with likeminded people. This type of food experience gives you new skills and the opportunity to recreate the dishes when you are back home.
Food Tours in Barcelona
Market food tours are among the many food and drink experiences in Barcelona. Giving foodies a chance to discover where the locals carry out their grocery shopping.
Especially as the markets are all very different. La Boqueria is well-known for its presentation of fish and meat. Sant Antoni Market is larger but less touristy than Boqueria. Then there’s Mercat de la Concepcio which sells fresh produce along with its incredible flower stalls, providing a centrepiece to your dinner table.
Finally, there is the stunning Mercat Santa Caterina, which was renovated in 2005 and houses more than 100 market stalls, spread across 3 levels. It’s also near to Barcelona’s medieval cathedral, making it a great way to combine a food tour in Barcelona with sight-seeing.
Although, while Barcelona is a welcoming and safe place to visit, it’s worth noting tourists should be careful on market day. As it’s well-known pickpocketers operate within the crowded environment, so remember to keep a close eye on your possessions.
Traditional Dishes of Barcelona
Food and drink experiences in Barcelona will uncover a mixture of unique flavours and innovative results. Due to Catalonia’s coastal location, seafood dishes, of course, feature heavily on any menu. Although this isn’t always the case as we look at the following traditional dishes of Barcelona:
Cargoli a la Llauna
A really old Catalan dish made from snails cooked in a roasting tin either on a charcoal grill or the oven. The snails are well-seasoned, smothered in olive oil and fresh herbs such as oregano.
Snails can also be stewed with rabbit (conill amb cargols) in a juicy sofrito sauce. One that is made up of garlic, onions, tomatoes and various herbs. Alternatively, some chefs include minced nuts for texture and even chocolate for a rich, indulgent sauce.
Escudella i carn d’olla
This is Catalan cuisine at its best within the winter months. As the vegetable broth offers a warm contrast to those colder evenings. Boiled over a lengthy period, large meatballs are then added. The overall result is a delicious very tasty stew that has to be eaten with fresh crusty bread.
Empanadas are little pockets of flaky pastry dough pies, filled with special hot delights. The dish gets its name from the Spanish word “empanar’, meaning -“covered bread”. Originally, considered a meal for the working classes, the pies are filled with spicy meats and vegetables.
This is a very famous but rather simple Catalonian dish. The major ingredients include eggplants, onions, bell peppers that are grilled whole over hot embers. The vegetables are then seasoned and served as a starter or a side dish. You may sometimes find Escalivada included in a tapas menu, or accompanied with a fish dish.
Esqueixada’s main ingredient is bacalao – a raw cod that is salted and soaked in water. Shredded bacalao is then placed on a traditional salad, with large ripe tomatoes, olive oil and onions. The topping of the salad is usually olives. Depending on the chef, the topping could also be peppers, or even a hard-boiled egg.
Definitely a Catalan speciality is calçots – a type of long green onion that’s milder than a typical onion. The calcot is barbecued and served up with a Romesco or Salvitxada sauce. In fact, during early spring, there is a culinary event, known as ‘Calçotadas’. This is when these onion beauties are in season. To ensure the calcots are tender, they are wrapped in newspaper and served with local cava wine.
Why not try a new food experience in Barcelona with some unforgettable Catalonian traditional cuisine.
Popular Restaurants in Barcelona
Barcelona is a gourmet paradise and with so many interesting restaurants to choose from, finding exactly the right place to eat can be quite stressful.
Which restaurant offers the best value for money? How do I know if I will like their food? Where can I get the best paella in Barcelona? Is it going to be really noisy and touristy? Although we take a look at a selection of popular restaurants below, for some of the best food and drink experiences in Barcelona.
Wow and Wow! This is one superb restaurant and quite difficult to reserve a table here – but definitely do try well in advance of your trip. Tickets is the next best place after the El Bulli (unfortunately now closed) restaurant that was known as the best place to eat in the world.
The head chef here is – Ferran Adria, and the place is an up-market tapas eatery, with a circus-theme and various stations round the two dining rooms that produce different dishes. All the dishes are brought to your table, in a delightful fun way – do try not to miss out on this adventure.
Another fabulous eatery that serves old-style tapas seafood and vintage vermouth. The local people tend to drink vermouth in the afternoons along with their tapas. Bodega 1900 has a real authentic atmosphere and traditional combinations that will give you an insight into the history and local traditions of Barcelona.
Koy Shunka was presented with its first Michelin star back in 2013. This gorgeous Japanese restaurant is the second place to be opened by chef Hideki Matsuhisa. It was, opened after the huge success of the Shunka restaurant (owned by the older brother of Koy Shunka). Its menu offers an extravagant combination of the most sophisticated flavours of Japan that are made with painstaking care and bursting with avant-garde delicacies.
Situated in the very heart of Barcelona, near to Las Ramblas, Bar Cañete offers two different places; the Barra area serves tapas in an informal busy environment. Whilst the Mantel area is a bistro type atmosphere, whereby you can enjoy a more intimate and relaxed setting.
Bar Cañete combines fresh fish and seafood from the local fish markets and vegetables from the local farms. All the dishes served are classical Catalonian specialties. Do try the delicious fried squid sandwich or the amazingly mouth-watering red salted shrimps.
Paz 19 by Sensi
Situated in the Gothic Quarter is this great little gem! It offers classical Spanish tapas, combined with the addition of very French flavours. To eat here is a sheer Mediterranean culinary experience. Do try the tortilla de patatas with truffles and ceps mayonnaise – simply delicious, and said to be the best in Barcelona. They also serve chorizo with anise and a fabulous dark squid paella with a garlic infusion.
A really creative restaurant that offers modern classical Galician dishes with a great presentation. Enjoy the crunchy octopus dish with a blackberry mojito – to die for! It is also one of the best restaurants in the city if you are wanting an authentic intimate atmosphere. So, if you are celebrating a special occasion or just want to spend precious time with a loved one – look no further than this ideal place.
What to Drink in Barcelona?
Breweries in Barcelona (known as cervecerías), serve craft or special beers as well as other soft drinks, coffees and wines. Food and drink experiences in Barcelona have everything from colourful flamenco bars to vintage cocktail places. Recently, cocktails have been at the forefront with lots of bars and cocktail lounges opening up everywhere in the city.
Although, it’s worth remembering the Spanish like to offer a generous serving of alcohol to be savoured. As such, drinks are mixed quite strongly so do be warned before you start your night off ordering one too many. Take a look at these Catalan favourite drinks designed for all budgets:
Whether you are visiting the city of Barcelona for a weekend or for longer, be sure to give the popular drinks the locals love a try! During your stay, you will no doubt see the locals enjoying a glass of Cava at a bar. This is because unlike the Spanish Sangria, Cava is disputably Barcelona’s most popular drink. In fact, Barcelona Cava is not just reserved for drinking at a celebration but is a drink the locals enjoy any time of the day.
The immense volumes of this fabulous sparkling wine are produced in the Penedès region of Catalonia at the many vineyards. However, the regions in Catalonia, do produce other diverse wine styles such as dry, sweet and sparkling variations in three colours – red, white and rosé. Traditionally red Penedès wines have been produced from the Spanish grape varieties of Garnacha, Carinena, Monastrell and Tempranillo.
If you do love Cava – there are numerous cava bars or “xampanyerias” dotted all over the city. A popular favourite is La Xampanyeria in the gothic neighbourhood of Carrer de la Reina Cristina. Here you can enjoy a delicious glass of Cava for just €1.50 along with a variety of traditional Catalan tapas dishes, whilst you soak up the lively atmosphere. You can also purchase bottles of good quality sparkling wine to take away for the incredible price of €2.
Like Cava, beer is an extremely popular choice among the locals and they take pleasure in sitting on a terrace and enjoying a cold glass of beer with lunch or as an after-work drink. The most popular beers include Estrella Damm, Estrella Galicia, Cruzcampo and of course Moritz, arguably Barcelona’s most famous beer.
Whether you’re a beer lover or just a casual beer drinker, pay a visit to the Moritz factory. It is a worthwhile experience. Here you will get to grips with the iconic brewery process and more importantly, enjoy some great tasting opportunities.
This refreshing drink is ideal for a hot summer’s day. Although, actually originating from Valencia is just as popular throughout Spain. Orxata is made from a combination of tiger nuts, water and sugar, served over ice.
Exceptionally thirst-quenching and the perfect way to cool down in the Spanish heat.
Another bonus is that the drink is inexpensive and served at most bars and cafés throughout the city. As it is made from tiger nuts, vegan foodies can enjoy Orxata as well as the lactose intolerant.
This is actually Vermouth – a deep-rooted Catalan tradition that has become very popular during the last decade. Enjoying vermouth served on ice or soda with an orange twist is exhilarating. Whether you are already a complete vermouth lover or you have never tried it before, there are plenty of Vermut bars all over Barcelona where you can enjoy this delightful aperitive and blend in with the locals!
Book Food and Drink Experiences in Barcelona
Remember many of the locals often eat later in the day, with restaurants getting busy from 9pm onwards. As for the bars, they tend to start filling up around 11pm, while nightclubs often not even opening until 2am.
As for the best in Barcelona food and drink tours, we have a wide choice available throughout the day. Whether it’s food and drink experiences in Barcelona offering a lunchtime tapas tour or an evening at a fine-dining restaurant.
Book food and drink experiences in Barcelona with tabl.com.