Barcelona has long been known for its cuisine but with pale imitations of the real things popping up all over the city, multiple chains and the closing of legendary El Bulli, it would be fair to say one needs to be a little more in-the-know to find the best spots to eat in Barcelona.
To make it simpler, here are the eight best things to do and places to eat for foodies in Barcelona, in no particular order:
Try churros and chocolate by Spain’s best pastry chef at La Xocolateria by Oriol Balaguer
Oriol Balaguer is a foodie legend when it comes to all things sweet. He started his career working for his parents in their chocolate shop and gained an appreciation for the good stuff working under the then world’s best chef, Ferran Adria. His experience and innovative techniques have earned him a string of accolades, including Spain’s Best Pastry Chef, and creator of a chocolate dessert that won “best dessert in the world”.
When such a talented chef opens a chocolate spot, well, no foodie would be seen dunking their churros in any other chocolate. Try his Churros y Chocolate and you won’t be disappointed. Heavenly, thick, hot chocolate is balanced, sophisticated with just the right level of sweetness. Available in dark, milk and white chocolate, there is something for every palate. The chocolate is silky, smooth, melted to perfection, not overly sweet, and gorgeously thick, and the churros are a sweet delight. This may be a Spanish breakfast tradition but once you dip the crispy churros in the first time, you’ll realise it’s a sweet treat for any time of the day.
Go on a gastronomical journey at Tickets
Widely renowned as one of the best restaurants in Spain, if not the world, Tickets serves up a juxtaposition of ingredient-led, inventive dishes in cinema-esque surroundings. As such, it’s one of the hottest tables in the city and requires a booking at least two months ahead (for the organised foodies amongst you!) The surprise tasting menu at Tickets takes you on a journey of twenty courses, sampling some of the finest Spanish ingredients through a myriad of textures, flavours and gastronomical experimentation. Don’t miss the Cauliflower and Caviar, The Octopus or the Tickets Cheesecake, all of which are exquisite and contribute to Tickets being known as a seriously good restaurant in Barcelona.
Take a break from the busy Gothic Quarter and relax over the best Spanish wines
La Vinya Del Senyor has a wine list that will impress any wine enthusiast. Whilst only a small spot, it has a vast array of local wines, fantastic cava and a wonderful outdoor area to enjoy it in. The tapas consists of brilliant, small, light plates to accompany the wine. Do try the marinated raw salt cod and the raw cured Menorcan sausage served with a drizzle of orange blossom honey.
The incredible cheese platter balances sweet and savoury magically and the combination of the cured sheep’s milk cheese against the fresh walnuts and apricot chutney is unbeatable. Take a break from walking through the busy Gothic Quarter and slow down for a spot of people watching with a great glass of a wine and truly special tapas, whilst it may not be on most Barcelona tapas tours, it’s certainly one you’ll enjoy.
Try award winning cakes at La Pastisseria
Vibrant lime green domes, glossy pineapple topped sponges and perfectly sculpted roses adorn the window of award-winning cake shop, La Pastisseria. This Catalan cake shop has both style and substance in abundance; beautiful flavours are represented in quirky, eye-catching forms. Cakes include the Summer Colada, a pineapple and coconut mousse with pineapple and lime compote and coconut cream, finished with Ciroc vodka, and the Milfulls de Xocolata, a ruby rose sponge is filled with chocolate mousse and pearls of chocolate; there is something for everyone. The topical cake of the day, Pastis de la Diada, depicts the Catalonian flag, bringing together sweet and tart flavours of vanilla sponge, passion fruit and raspberry. These sweet treats are an inexpensive indulgence at around four euros, and perfect to accompany an afternoon of shopping in the Eixemple area of Barcelona.
Fill up on tapas at El Quim de La Boqueria
La Boqueria is the biggest open air market in Europe. Once used as a market for fish and goat meat it is now a treasure cove of Spanish meats, fresh fish, candies, nougat, fruit and an abundance of tapas. It’s a colourful sensory overload with delightful scents and flavours bursting through at each turn. Divided into distinct areas: meats, fish, baked goods, vegetables, fruits and assorted nuts and sweets at the front. Dining at the bar at El Quim de La Boqueria is a chance to people watch and try local tapas in equal measure. Look for the bright yellow sign and a bustling crowd surrounding the bar. The sangria is fruity and sweet. The padron peppers are zingy with flavour and the patatas bravas are piled high with sauces. Piquant and flavourful food match the vibrant, social setting. It’s touristy but not to be missed as La Boqueria is rightfully known for it’s atmosphere when eating out in Barcelona, and El Quim de La Boqueria brings finesse and quality to the table.
Head out of town to Ocata Beach
Ocata is just 30 minutes away from Placa Catalunya in Barcelona by train but it truly feels a world away in distinction. With over a kilometre of golden sand and turquoise sea, this is where the locals go to get away from the city’s infamous Barceloneta beach. It’s famous for its beach bars, known as Chiranguitos, where you’ll enjoy the freshest grilled calamari, fished locally that same day, and don’t miss the beautiful mushroom croquettas – the crunch is beyond perfection. Wash it down with a sweet sangria – why not? You’re on holiday!
Wonder suburban chic Gracia for a taste of Catalonia
Suburban Gracia is an underrated foodie hotspot in Barcelona. Restaurants such as La Pubilla provide a glimpse into hearty, simple, authentic Catalan food. Rustic, with no frills attached, these spots offer great value for money, bold flavours and unique dishes, rare to find in the city centre.
Enjoy Michelin star Mexican food in the heart of the cool, eclectic El Raval district
Fine dining Mexican is something I didn’t go to Spain expecting to find, but oh boy was this place good. Hoja de Santa is another ride within Albert Adria’s foodie amusement park, El Barri, serving authentic flavours of Mexico with Adria’s flair and signature style. Unique dishes like the Ecosistema de Cacao evoke a sense of history, referencing pre-conquest Mexico where cacao was used as money before the use of gold. More importantly the taste is fantastic, cleverly combining cinnamon, ginger, citronella and perricone oil with bitter-sweet cacao. This is Mexican food, but not as we know it. For me, it is second, only to Pujol in Mexico City, but much closer to home and a must-do for foodies visiting Barcelona.
So, to all foodies out there visiting Barcelona in the near future, join the culinary revival of a city that was once home to the world famous El Bulli. Put down your guide book and avoid the tourist traps along Las Ramblas. For true Catalan flavours and unique foodie experiences in Barcelona, look out for these eight spots and let me know how you get on!
What are your favourite foodie spots in Barcelona? What are your favourite cities for foodies?