Nestled between the sun-drenched slopes of the Montserrat mountains and the glistening Mediterranean Sea, the very cosmopolitan city of Barcelona screams foodie-paradise and it doesn’t fail to disappoint. Here are 5 snapshots essential for any foodie trip to Spain’s second city.
On your way from Barcelona’s El Prat airport you’ll likely pass the imposing Estrella Damm brewery hinting to the fact that, once there, you’ll find multiple opportunities to sample the city’s indigenous tipple. It’s the star of the show in any decent bar and is best served ice-cold from the tap. Locals sip from a chalice alongside tapas anytime from midday onwards!!
Catalan tradition calls for late dinners starting at around 8PM so most weary travellers would’ve built up a fair appetite!! The solution: graze your way through the many tapas bars at your disposal. Particular highlights can be found south of Plaça de Catalunya in the Ramblas and El Born areas (the old town). A particular speciality of the region is pintxos/pinchos, a seemingly endless variety of toppings “spiked” atop a slice of baguette. I’d recommend that you opt for 2-3 tapas per person then move on to the next bar.
Muscle your way to the bar and enjoy cafe con leche (translated coffee with milk) and an ensaimada; a deliciously light sponge dusted with icing sugar, or maybe a xuxo; Catalan doughnut filled with custard. You’ll see people dash in and leave within 10 minutes so it’s best to follow suit. If you want to sit for hours over a grande caramel latte with your laptop, you’re in the wrong place; although there is a Starbucks hidden in the backstreets!!
Iberico ham, although not native to Barcelona, is available everywhere in the city, although be sure to choose an establishment that features a leg joint displayed proudly on the bar. This will ensure you enjoy hand-carved morsels straight from the joint itself often accompanied with bread spread lightly with tomato. Jamon carving is a respected skill passed through the generations and requires a steady hand and is impressive to watch!!
A sprawling cathedral of food situated just south of Plaça de Catalunya, off La Rambla, enthusiastic market vendors vie loudly for trade underneath the high roof. Anything from fresh fruit & vegetables, seafood, charcuterie, local tipples, meats, herbs & spices, cheeses, cakes and cookware can be found here at Europe’s oldest market. It’s inevitable this will build up a mighty appetite but fear not; there are plenty of bars dotted around the market. Chief among them is El Quim, cooking up the market’s finest offerings to customers perched at the tall bar.
Also try… La Boqueria is far from the only food market on offer so take a peek at the others too. Join the locals and have espresso in the afternoon and evening. Venture out to the Barceloneta peninsula and splash out on a meal overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Grab supermarket bargains to fill your suitcase to the brink of your airline’s weight allowance for the return journey. Finish your meal with a Crema Catalana, Spain’s answer to the crème brûlée, but even yummier. Go local and rent a Vespa moto from Vesping.com to reach those out of the way foodie places.
Where’s best to stay? Barcelona is a large city so a central base will ensure you reach all the essential foodie haunts. Highly recommended is the Hotel Praktik Garden which is within walking distance of the affordable old town and the high-end Passeig de Gràcia, the Spanish Champs-Élysées. But make sure you bring your walking shoes!! Make a reservation HERE.
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