Dining and Bars in Barcelona
Updated: Feb 11
From tapas to paella to bocadillos to sweets, the food scene in Barcelona is amazing. You can find great, fresh, high quality food at any price range and to cater to many tastes. Here are my highlights:
La Cova Fuma
This little seafood restaurant not far from the beach was one of my favorite dining experiences in Barcelona and possibly one of the best meals of my life. The place is small with a mix of local folks and their families and tourists. The restaurant staff are friendly and seemingly in a million places at once, remembering every order and person. This place felt incredibly authentic in every way from the food to the ambiance. I had the grilled artichokes, pan con aioli which was a toast with garlic spread, grilled calamari, and a bomba which is a deep fried mashed potato ball with aioli and hot sauce. The bomba alone was enough reason to go back. So good. Every came to only 15 euro which is amazing for more food than I could begin to eat. Highly recommend.
Quimet y Quimet
I first learned about Quimet y Quimet while watching Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown and then it was additionally recommended to me by a friend. The place seemed intimidating and I read about how you basically needed to show up early to line up and elbow your way in, but that is was worth it. I ended up going for lunch around noon. This is earlier than most folks eat lunch in these parts and it was basically empty save a couple local guys drinking beer. You order and eat by standing at the counter. I ordered a Montadito which was a thick crostini like bread topped with various toppings and a house beer to drink. Wow, did this live up to the hype!!! I actually ended up ordering 2 more for a very filling meal. I tried the salmon with yogurt and truffled honey, the fresh anchovies with dried tomatoes which also had carmelized onion and an olive, and the prawn with red pepper which came with yogurt and caviar. Each one was unbelievably good and the whole atmosphere was really an interesting cultural experience. In retrospect it might have been fun to go during the busy dinner madness, but if you like a little solace while you eat, lunch is a great choice.
This was the first meal of my trip and I chose a couple tapas- the chicken croquettes and aubergine with goat cheese. They were both very good. They also have local beers, including an IPA. I enjoyed quietly people watching here.
Mercato della Boqueria
This market is a must see and there are tons of food choices to select from so it's definitely good to go with an appetite. I went first thing in the morning to beat the crowds and had a Cono Mixto which was an assortment of cheeses and cured meats. An unusual breakfast for me, but so good and fresh. I paired this with a mango juice which was just ok, but I come from the land of fresh pressed juice so my standards are high. I got the sense the market had a mix of really high quality things and other items that were lower quality and sort of pandering to tourists, so if you go keep a discerning eye out! This is also just a great place to people watch. The locals come early to shop, especially in the fish market, and have coffee at Pinotxo Bar.
Brunch and Cake
This place is as non-traditional as it gets, but after several days of heavier than I'm used to meals I was feinding for a bunch of veggies. I ended up getting a beetroot latte (surprisingly good) and a salmon bowl with zoodles, mango, avocado and assorted veggies which had an Asian influenced flavor. This place is all about the Instagram aesthetic. Every dish I saw people order looked like it was curated to be cute- think bright colors, tiny flowers, etc. Still, my meal was good so if you're in the mood for something completely different check it out. Beware though, by 9:15am there was a crowd of people trying to get in so be prepared to wait or come closer to 8:30am.
I stumbled on the place completely by accident on the way back to the Gothic Quarter Friday evening and boy was I glad I did. Every Friday and Saturday the have live music and flamenco. I came for the early (20:30) flamenco show. It was 12 euro which included a drink. I had a great sangria, but more importantly the performance was INCREDIBLE. All the aspects- singing, dance, guitar were all wonderful. It was really moving and a highlight of my time in Barcelona.
This is a speakeasy located behind false freezer doors. It's super kitschy and very aesthetically pleasing. I got an Into the Woods which was served on a log complete with edible ants. They also had a cocktail served in a Terra Cotta horse, a seashell, etc. The bar staff was fun and lively, but my drink was just ok (although very strong) and the atmosphere was not that appealing to me. The drinks were also quite pricey... mine was 12 euro. If you are into silliness, which I definitely am, I would only go for the novelty of it and maybe the photo.
I was unaware but apparently infused gins are a big thing in Barcelona. I tried this spot after stumbling on it while vaguely lost in the Gothic Quarter where I was staying. There were quite a few people there but it had a really mellow mood. They had several types of infused gins along with other cocktails. I ordered a mint and green apple infused gin and tonic. It was nice and very simple.
I stopped in this grunge themed skater bar for a beer. The seats are made from old skate ramps and there are decks and skate videos playing on the TV. Very cheap. It had a cool punk attitude and was full of young skater kids. The highlight for me was that they played a Less than Jake song which I haven't heard in about 15 years! Really took me back to my rebellious youth!
Lots of tourists line up for these wild churros including chocolate covered, plain with chocolate dipping sauce, and strawberry, creme, dulce de leche, and nutella filled. I had the nutella filled. Over the top sweet for my taste, but a great treat and only 2 euro.
There are endless coffee shops serving cafe, sweet pastries, pizza, and bocadillos (sandwiches). A lot of them seem to be chains and they're mostly quite good and fresh so I just picked them at random to start my day many days. Some spots I tried were CappUKccinos, Tiana, and Buenas Migas. The morning coffee and sometimes pastry culture is totally a thing in Barcelona and some of the time I really enjoyed most was spent hanging out, sipping espresso, and chatting with folks or just people watching.
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