Barcelona: Where to Eat City Guide
You’ve booked your ticket, sorted out your accommodation. That’s the easy part. Now you’ve got 18 tabs open trying to figure out where to eat? What should you really not miss? And how to plan out your route when you don’t know the city?
With you in mind, and having been there myself on countless occasions. This is a Barcelona: Where to Eat City Guide. The focus is on food and drink. A range of authentic options and happening places with an emphasis on places where you don’t have to book. And a handy map at the end that will rid you of the heavy lifting.
I will include three areas: El Born, El Gòtic & El Raval. They are all next to each other and easy to walk around in.
A little insight into the three distinct neighborhoods of central Barcelona : El Born, El Gòtic & El Raval.
El Born is one of the oldest areas. It is home to the Basilica del Mar, built by the merchants of the city. It’s wedged between the Parc de la Ciutadella and the large avenue of Via Laietana. Although it started out modestly, El Born is now known for elegant boutiques, outdoor seating and is popular with tourists and locals. There are many great places to eat here.
Then comes the Gothic Quarter: El Gòtic. Demarcated by Via Laietana on it’s right and the famous La Rambla on it’s left. The striking Cathedral of Barcelona sits grandly at the heart of the El Gòtic as does the medieval synagogue. This area has the striking market of Santa Caterina, with it’s a breathtaking colourful tiled roof with its ripples and bends.
Finally, you cross La Rambla and enter El Raval. Once a seedy district with much prostitution and drugs. El Raval has changed a lot in the last few years. It is a colourful and diverse neighbourhood. If you are searching for an elusive ingredient, chances are you will find it between the phone shops at places like J.K. Asian Supermarket. Is it a bouquet of Bok Choi you are after? Then a wander down Carrer Joaquin Costa, with its Filipino grocers and halal butchers is advisable.
If tackling three neighbourhoods seems daunting, don’t worry. Walking from the Born Cultural Center to Fernando Botero’s truck-sized sculpture of a Cat in the heart of El Raval, it will take you 20 minutes.
Barcelona Where to Eat! Breakfast in Barcelona
There are two types of breakfasts in Barcelona. There is the perfunctory sort. A coffee and a pastry like an ensaïmada. Or the more serious desayuno de “forquilla” or a fork breakfast, usually a hearty bean stew full with coarse butifarras (sausages). These breakfasts were meant to sustain peasant workers for a long day in the field.
If you want a walking breakfast, balancing coffee in one hand and a sandwich in the other then head to Funky Bakers.
After just a coffee? Cafés el Magnífico will do you. Four-Generation roasters, they were roasting green single-origin beans while the rest of the city was choking down their torrefacto (Robusto beans toasted with sugar to make a cheaper product). If you are visiting on a weekend, I suggest their weekend only location called Mag.
Don’t consider it breakfast unless there is turmeric in your latte and chia seeds in your plant-based milk? Although slow on the uptake, Barcelona now has options. Lulu is a small bright space. Their open-faced tartines are so big they hang off the plate. Flax & Kale is the indomitable healthy eating star of Barcelona. Their Passage locations contain its own fermentation chamber.
Would you choose Chai over coffee? La Masala Cafe in El Born has it’s own blend. Their coffee is just as good. Breakfast is sandwiches and bowls. Lots of charm in the space.
Ah, but what if what you want is a platter of breakfast. Brunch style? Picnic is the place for you. Generous portions served on enamelware.
Lastly, if you love flaky croissants scattered with almonds, make a stop at Hoffman pastry. Should you happen to be here over the Easter period, their chocolate sculptures are delightful. After the tremendous combination of a Hoffman croissant and an El Magnifico coffee – then it’s got to be La Seca Espai Brossa. Located in a former mint.
Barcelona Where to Eat! Get your buzz on with these great coffee shops in Barcelona!
Departure Coffee will feel like a find. Tucked as it is off a busy road on a perpetually wet alleyway.
Dalston is possibly the smallest coffee shop in the city. However, that in no way impedes their skill. One of my favourite coffees.
Lukumas is close to departure. I always struggle between loving the space and coffee at Departure Coffee and loving the doughnuts here. Often times Lukumas wins.
Barcelona Where to Eat! Where to Eat El Born?
You are spoiled for choice here in this popular neighborhood.
Bar del Pla works for traditional tapas but also for creative ones, like their dish of shaved mushrooms with strawberries and wasabi.
A Pluma is a rotisserie like no other. From the mind of an El Bulli alumni. The chicken is a local breed, slow roast in a Catalan oven. The pineapple dessert should not be missed.
Bodega La Puntual serves up typical tapas like wrinkled Padron peppers with large flakes of salt. And less familiar ones like mojama, a wind-dried tuna sliced thinly.
Bodega Maestrazgo is a great locale to enjoy vermouth, a glass of Cava or wine. They make nice platters of cheeses and meats should you want a snack.
Clubhaus is a wacky space of different concepts. A bar and karaoke club downstairs. An all-day dining space upstairs. Food is a mixed bag of international trends. Expect chilli in your brownie and zaatar on your toast.
El Casal is run by two Frenchmen and the menu reflects their roots. Which is why it is a Bistrot. Simple food, cooked well. Excellent menu del dia.
El Chigre 1769 across from Santa Maria del Mar. The menu has a lot of Asturian imports, which is a good thing. It means you will find chorizo in cider and cheeses like blue-veined Cabrales.
Estimar high-end dining from Rafa Zafra, a former chef at El Bulli. There is a lot of love for the sea at Estimar. Prices are high so more of a special occasion destination.
Fismuler is for those who want to try a bit of Adria fairy dust. In the elegant, adults-only, Hotel Rec. Make sure to order the cheesecake. It can seem pricey compared to the surrounding restaurants but you can order a half portion media ración and no one will even bat an eyelid.
La Catalista is a modern wine bar. It pairs local wines with creative dishes conceived of by the head chef of Hawker45.
Quilo Bar has great renditions of all the classic dishes. Their menu del dia is generous.
Mosquito Tapas a tiny grotty place that serves Asian fare. Once you start on the gyoza you will find it hard to stop.
Tlaxcal a highly rated Mexican restaurant. I always order their green enchiladas. Their menu del dia is a great value and delicious.
The Green Spot is billed as vegetarian for non-vegetarians. It should be called Gorgeous Spot as it’s one of the most beautiful restaurants in town. They serve things like charcoal pizza and an abundance of avocado.
Vila Viniteca started out as a grocer’s many generations ago. These days it provides wine to the city’s best restaurants. They have an exquisite selection of meats and cheeses so if all you want is a glass of wine and a board of embutidos, Vila Viniteca is ideal.
Barcelona Where to Eat! Where to Eat in El Gòtic?
Belmonte is a small restaurant close to the main post office. Run by two women. It serves Catalan dishes that you will love eating. Don’t miss the potatoes with romesco sauce: patatons.
El Quatre Gats was the first place in which Pablo Picasso exhibited. It has retained a lot of this period charm. Food is good but it’s more the history that scores high here.
Federal Cafe Gòtic will bewitch you with its space. On a quiet and hard to find street. It’s cafe culture so brunch dishes served all day with some salads.
Koy Shunka if you want to take a break from Spanish fare in favour of some light Japanese. Or Shunka if someone else is paying and you are after a Michelin starred experience with strikingly fresh fish. And finally Kak Koy, for the smoky robata grill.
La Plata serves 4 dishes. And one of them is a tomato salad. But they’ve managed this way since 1945. A great place to try your luck at drinking from a porron.
Les Quinze Nits if you want to linger in the picturesque Plaza Real. High-end food, tablecloths on the table. Not terribly exciting food but if you really want that view…
Satan’s Coffee started life out as a small corner in a bicycle shop. This was it’s first proper shop. Despite the many “NO’s” (No Wifi, No sugar) service is friendly and the menu eccentric and fun.
Xurreria Dels Banys Nous. Churros a must-have experience. The secret of a delicious churro? Getting it just out of the hot oil and a good dash of salt in the dough. Enjoyed for breakfast by small and big alike or as a late afternoon snack called merienda.
Barcelona Where to Eat! Where to Eat in El Raval?
This is the neighbourhood that is home to the famed La Boqueria. It has become overrun with tourists, particularly the front part. However, plenty of locals still shop here and this market supplies the surrounding restaurants. There are plenty of speciality stalls from mushrooms at Petras to wildfowl. If you want to eat inside the market, pull up a stool to Quim Bar.
Even the pan con tomate will be a cut above at Bar Canete. It will come on coca bread (like a flatter focaccia with double the holes). Classic dishes that are on spot on. Worth a peak for the marine like plants with drooping tendrils hanging from the ceiling alone.
Bar Central is a part coffee shop, part oasis. There is a water feature in the courtyard and everything.
Caravelle will serve you for breakfast and throughout the day. One of the few places that offer continuous service. Everything is made from scratch here, from the pickles to the hot sauce. More than it seems to the untrained eye.
You will have to plan ahead for this one. 8 chairs around two chefs. Direkte Boqueria is an exciting concept that won Best New Restaurant in 2018 at the Gastronomic Forum of Girona.
Dos Palillos means two chopsticks and is an Asian fusion restaurant from chef Albert Raurich. Dishes are daring, think chicken sashimi but also delicious and exquisite. Former head chef for Ferran Adria, Raurich is now famous in his own right.
Barcelona might not have the best ice cream shops. So when you find an extraordinary one like Natas, it’s a big deal. Manuela makes quickly seasonal flavours. The mint chocolate chip is worth doing bad things for.
What is a menu del dia and why should you care?
Many cities offer lunch menus but few offer them at such low prices. You can get a menu del dia for around 10 euros and it will include a first course, second course, dessert, coffee and often wine.
Barcelona Where to Eat! Don’t miss these food shops!
It’s not just restaurants you have to try but also the food shops. Barcelona Where to Eat wouldn’t be a complete guide without these food shops.
Casa Gispert dates back to 1851 and still has the original oven, used for roasting coffee at the time. It is still used to roast the nuts it sells. Usually on a Tuesday. Get a small bag of short squat Marcona almonds and marvel at the flavour.
Formatgeria La Seu is owned by a Scottish woman who previously worked at Neals Yard Dairy in London. Katherine sources her cheeses from Catalunya and the rest of Spain and knows the story behind each one.
La Ribera S.A. is an institution that dates back to when the fresh market was still on this square. They sell salt cod (look out for the chopping block that has been hacked to a sliver). A huge selection of olives. As well as conserves canned food which to locals smacks of luxury, a tin of cockles sometimes costing over 20 euros.
Barcelona Where to Eat. Where to go for cocktails in Barcelona?
There are some great cocktail bars in Barcelona. I like most that come from the La Confiteria group. They started with an antique shop named La Confiteria. Keeping the shelving and signage to add an authentic patina that only comes with age.
For a speakeasy-style, climb through the refrigerator door of Pastrami Bar and into the ribbed wood interior of Paradiso. You will feel like Pinocchio’s Gepetto, in the belly of the whale. But with cocktails like you have never seen. Cocktails that fly, cocktails that smoke, cocktails that are served in an oyster shell buried in a treasure chest.
Dr. Stravinsky, on the other hand, has something of a laboratory about it.
Barcelona: Where to Eat City Guide *Address Book*
A Pluma – Carrer del Rec Comtal, 7, B, 08003
Bar Cañete – Carrer de la Unió, 17, 08001
Bar Central – Carrer d’Elisabets, 6, 08001
Bar Del Pla – Carrer de Montcada, 2, 08003
Belmonte – Carrer de la Mercè, 29, 08002
Bodega La Puntual – Carrer de Montcada, 22, 08003
Bodega Maestrazgo – Carrer de Sant Pere Més Baix, 90, 08003
Cafés el Magnífico – Carrer de l’Argenteria, 64, 08003
Cal Pep – Plaça de les Olles, 8, 08003
Caravelle – Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 31, 08001
Casa Gispert – Carrer dels Sombrerers, 23, 08003
Clubhaus – Av. del Marquès de l’Argentera, 13, 08003
Dalston Coffee – Carrer de les Ramelleres, 16, 08001
Departure Coffee – Carrer de la Verge, 1, 08001
Dr. Stravinsky – Carrer dels Mirallers, 5, 08003
Direkte Boqueria – Carrer de les Cabres, 13, 08001
Dos Palillos – Carrer d’Elisabets, 9, 08001
El Casal – Plaça Víctor Balaguer, 5, 08003
El Chigre 1769 – Carrer dels Sombrerers, 7, 08003
El Quatre Gats – Carrer de Montsió, 3, 08002
El Quim de la Boquería – Mercado de La Boqueria, La Rambla, 91
Estimar – Flax & Kale Passage – Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 31-33, 08003
Formatgeria La Seu – Carrer de la Dagueria, 16, 08002
Funky Bakers – Passeig del Born, 10, 08003
Kak Koy – Robata Grill. Carrer de Ripoll, 16, 08002
Koy Shunka – Carrer d’en Copons, 7, 08002
Hofmann La Seca – Carrer dels Flassaders, 40, 08003
Hofmann Pastisseria – Carrer dels Flassaders, 44, 08003
Quilo Bar – Carrer del Rec Comtal, 2, 08003
La Confiteria – Carrer de Sant Pau, 128, 08001
La Catalista – Carrer dels Carders, 11, 08003
La Plata – Carrer de la Mercè, 28, 08002
La Ribera S.A. – Plaça Comercial, 11, 08003
La Masala Cafe – Carrer d’En Mònec, 6, 08003
Les Quinze Nits – Plaça Reial, 6, 08002
Llamber (9:00 – 00:00) – Carrer de la Fusina 5, 08003
Lukumas – Carrer de Valldonzella, 36, 08001
Lulu – Av. del Marquès de l’Argentera, 7
Mag – Carrer de Grunyí, 10, 08003
Natas – Carrer d’Elisabets, 6, 08001
Mosquito Asian Tapas – Carrer dels Carders, 46, 08003
Paradiso – Cocktails. Carrer de Rera Palau, 4, 08003
Picnic – Carrer del Comerç, 1, 08003
Satan’s Coffee – Carrer de l’Arc de Sant Ramon del Call 11
Shunka – Carrer dels Sagristans, 5, 08002
Tlaxcal Cantina & Taquería – Carrer del Comerç, 27, 08003
The Roof at the Barcelona Edition Hotel – Av. de Francesc Cambó, 14, 08003
The Green Spot – Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 12, 08003
Vila Viniteca – Carrer dels Agullers, 7, 08003
Xurreria Dels Banys Nous – Carrer dels Banys Nous, 8, 08002