Barcelona is a paradise for foodies, but with so many choices, working out where to satisfy those hunger pangs can be tricky, which is why we’ve come to the rescue with our guide to the city’s best tapas restaurants.
Banner Image Credit: iStock.com/tbralnina
Quimet I Quimet, Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes
Image Credit: iStock.com/efesan
This gorgeous tapas bar is tiny so prepare to queue, but once you’ve nabbed a space at the bar, start by sampling the montaditos – beautifully arranged tapas on slices of bread. This is one of Spain’s most famous tapas hangouts, and it’s been a family affair since it opened its doors in 1914. The owners are known for their love of conservas – the art of preserving food in cans or jars – and many of these containers are displayed behind the bar in artfully arranged rows.
Restaurante Delicias, Carretera del Carmelo
Image Credit: iStock.com/fazeful
Carmel is a beautiful neighbourhood slightly off the tourist trail, typified by winding, narrow streets and spectacular views over the city. This particular tapas joint is known for its seafood, whether it’s the ocean-fresh anchovies or the delicious squid. Portion sizes are generous, and it’s a great place to refuel after an exploration of nearby Park Güell.
LATA-Bern@, Calle Torrent de Les Flors
Image Credit: iStock.com/graffio77
This lively venue is a Barcelona institution, but it’s hardly surprising, because the head chef is Juanjo Martínez, former executive chef at Barcelona’s Hotel Arts. Traditionalists beware – recent menu items include burrata cheese with rosemary smoke, and Olot potatoes, presented with a metal mesh designed to represent Spain’s Garrotxa mountains. As for Martinez’s favourite dish? “Our spicy steak tartare, served with crispy fried onions,” he reveals.
Cal Pep, Plaça de les Olles
Image Credit: iStock.com/alexsalcedo
The founders of this tapas hotspot, in the stylish neighbourhood of El Born, say their main motivation is a love of sharing fantastic food. There are only a few tables, so it’s worth booking ahead if you’re hoping to sample their highly sought-after seafood dishes, but there’s usually a space at the (albeit crowded) bar, especially if you’re dining solo. The cloïsses amb pernil (clams and ham) are legendary, as are the omelettes. “Our tortilla trampera is my favourite dish,” admits chef Pep Manubens. “It’s won several awards, and was recently described as one of the best tortillas in the city by Time Out Magazine Barcelona.”
El Quim De La Boqueria, La Rambla
Image Credit: iStock.com/El Quim de la Boqueria
Wondering why this restaurant’s logo bears the image of a fried egg? To put it simply, it’s a key ingredient. You’ll find them served with almost every dish, and the owners are incredibly proud of their farm fresh produce, which comes from a farm in the coastal town of Calafat. You’re unlikely to be surprised to hear what founder Quim Márquez names as his top dish. “Fried eggs and baby squid, fried with olive oil, garlic, chilli pepper, maldon salt and black pepper,” he says. “It’s our house speciality!”
Cervecería Catalana, Carrer de Mallorca
Image Credit: iStock.com/Wiktory
Expect an enormous selection of delicious tapas at this Spanish restaurant. Dishes are creative and unusual, so grab a fork and dig in, whether it’s the deep fried cheese with nuts and jam or veal sirloin served on bread. There’s a delicious selection of desserts too (the lemon cake is to die for) but it’s worth remembering that this small venue gets incredibly packed at peak times. It’s not possible to reserve a table and waiting times often exceed 40 minutes.
La Pepita, Carrer de Còrsega
Image Credit: La Pepita
La Pepita can be found in Gracia, a friendly, chilled out neighbourhood which is a great place to escape Barcelona’s selfie stick-wielding crowds. At this family-run eatery, service is friendly and prompt, with specials written in chalk on the walls – which guests are also encouraged to scrawl on. “I love our Russian salad,” reveals La Pepita’s owner Sofia Boixet. “It’s made with pickles, carrot, black olives, and of course, mayonnaise and boiled potatoes.”
Tickets Bar, Avinguda del Parallel
Image Credit: iStock.com/dulezidar
Head to Tickets for tapas with style – delicious morsels which wouldn’t look out of place in an art gallery. There are 90 seats here, and an open kitchen which turns the art of food preparation into pure theatre. And the chefs are true magicians. One of the most famous items is the liquid olive – fresh olive oil turned into the shape of an olive with the help of a hi-tech process known as spherication. But the food is still mind-blowingly delicious and you’ll find all your favourites, just with a modern – and very cool – twist.
La Cova Fumada, Calle Baluard
Image Credit: iStock.com/Perseomed
This authentic tapas bar is just a few metres from the beach. Its name means “the smoked cave” in English, and it opened in 1944. Its first customers were local shipyard workers. Today, little has changed, and there’s next to no signage outside – you just have to follow your nose. This is also the birthplace of the so-called potato bomb, the creation of María Pla, grandmother of the current owners. The dish – a small ball made from mashed potatoes and pork and rolled in breadcrumbs – has since become one of Spain’s most popular tapas.
Bar Pinotxo, Mercat de la Boqueria
Image Credit: iStock.com/Alex_Yudin
This informal tapas bar is one of many food stalls tucked away in La Boqueria, Barcelona’s huge food market. Amicable owner Juanito Bayen – always wearing his trademark bow tie – is a familiar sight, and the friendly, passionate staff are more than happy to suggest certain dishes. In fact, asking their advice is probably the best approach because there aren’t any menus at Bar Pinotxo. “The dish I’d recommend is the baby squid with white beans,” says Juanito.