Barcelona: A Foodie’s Guide
I’ve always been fascinated about different cultures around the world and that fascination multiplies tenfold when it comes to food. I still remember my taste buds dancing to the first bite of fresh figs, discovering the tart and sweet taste of juicy cherries, enjoying a simple yet tasty bowl of amazonian acai in Rio, devouring my first conch salad in Turks and Caicos and the taste of marinated white anchovies and olives in Italy. There is no denying that I love food and have no qualms to embark on culinary adventures. Sometimes I wonder if I travel to eat!
My approach to Barcelona’s cuisine is no different than any other places I had been to: Research fresh, local delicacies the region has to offer and dig in! If you like to tease your taste buds before visiting Barcelona, I recommend watching Episode: Barcelona from “I’ll have what Phil’s having”, Episode: Albert Adria from “Chef’s Table” and read about El Bulli and Ferran Adria. These will prepare you for an enticing culinary journey in Barcelona. And don’t forget to talk to the locals for hidden gems when you are there!
Like any other country, Spain has several different regions specializing in different ingredients and cuisines. Do not expect to taste the best Paella or Sherry in Barcelona but be open to the endless local options that Barcelona has to offer. I found the cuisine to be delicate with emphasis on fresh ingredients. This simple style of cooking may be the reason why Spanish cuisine is so hard to master.
Here is a list of everything food I had the pleasure of experiencing and in my opinion, are a must try in Barcelona!
Oh Yeah! The first thing to do when you arrive in Barcelona is to head to El Born area and hit as many tapas bars as possible. Order a few Pintxos (tapas/small plates) and decide which one you like the best. Famous and best tasting Pintxos include Patata Bravas (Potatoes with aioli), Olives, Anchovies, Jamon Iberico and Pulpo (read more about it in the seafood section).
La Boqueria Market
This market existed since the 1200s!! It is famous not only for its history but also for a wide range of delicacies. You can find everything here from fresh fruits, vegetables, fresh meat, seafood, juices, spiral potato chips, desserts to some of the best spots to eat delicious catalan food.
Stop by El Quim for their amazing array of breakfast options, the famous of which is baby squid with fried eggs. The best spot for lunch is Bar Pinotxo and they serve some amazing vegetarian dishes as well as fresh and tasty seafood. I cannot stress enough on how fresh the seafood tasted here. And the cooking style is simple and fresh. Did I mention that you can watch the cooking process while you are sipping on Cava? I suggest you to go early to both El Quim and Bar Pinotxo to avoid hours’ long wait.
One could eat European style breakfast of croissant with coffee or go for traditional Spanish breakfast of Tortilla (omelette with potatoes, onions), fish, grilled vegetables, roasted tomatoes, cheese and charcuterie.
Barcelona’s prime spot on the mediterranean coast gives it access to some of the tastiest and freshest seafood. If you love seafood, try the grilled fish, garlic prawns, fresh anchovies, squids and octopus. Honestly, you cannot go wrong with any of them.
Pulpo (Octopus): One of the most famous dishes in Barcelona is octopus. Cooking octopus needs a special skill and it takes an expert to cook it properly. If you like octopus or would like to try it, this is the place for it. I had eaten octopus a few times before and was looking forward to trying it in Barcelona and let me tell you, it was scrumptious! A must try for sure!
Jamon Iberico is another delicacy of Spain. This is hands down the best tasting ham and comes from the Iberian peninsula of Spain. You can find it everywhere and I highly recommend it. You will never go back to eating regular ham again!
Olive explosion and Bodega 1900
They look like olives, taste like olives but when you put them in your mouth, they explode! Someone said “These olives taste more olive-y than olives themselves.” If you are not familiar with the Adria brothers, they owned a 3 Michelin star restaurant called El Bulli years ago on the Costa Brava. The elder one Ferran Adria iss a pioneer in molecular gastronomy and opened up the culinary world to infinite number of possibilities. The most famous dish at El Bulli was the olive explosion. This is something one has to experience! They closed El Bulli and opened a few affordable ones in Barcelona. If you get a chance, eat at Bodega 1900 or Tickets (both Michelin starred). In addition to the olives, they serve a variety of vegetables, seafood and meat.
Dark hot xocolata at Granja M. Viader
Oh dark chocolate! where have you been all my life? For years now, I thought I did not like chocolate. Only after having the thick hot dark chocolate at Granja Viader did I realize that I did not like the sweet, milky chocolate. This dark hot chocolate is thick and gooey and nothing like the powdered mess you get elsewhere. Pair it with a lightly sweet Xurro (Churro) and you have the combination of your dreams. My only regret is that we only had it once while in Barcelona! This is another establishment that has been around since 1870 and apparently, Picasso used to sit here and ponder over a cup of their dark chocolate!
Vino (Cava, Priorat and more) & Vermouth
Forget Rioja and try the Catalan favorites like Cava and Priorat. Cava (sparkling wine made in champagne style) is a Catalan signature sparkling wine and a great addition to a sunny day. Pair it with fresh seafood or salad and you are in culinary heaven. While Cava is great with white fish and light meal, Priorat (made with Garnacha/Granache grapes) pairs amazingly well with meat. And a special mention has to be given to Vermouth from the Iberian peninsula!
Whatever your food preference might be, you will surely enjoy Barcelona. Even if you are not adventurous, be open and you will love the food here! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to hit me up!
I am Aswani Kurra. I am an engineer, dreamer and part-time wanderlust, writer and wine lover. I always had an urge to write, create and travel. So I created this space to satisfy my creative itch and combine all my skills to help you plan your Charming Escape.