When traveling to the Catalan capital, it can get quite overwhelming to choose where to eat in Barcelona. The city is famous for its tapas, paella, pinchos, seafood, and churros, but the question still remains the same – which are the best restaurants in Barcelona for a particular meal? I teamed up with other travel bloggers who have been in the city to give you all the best possible options for the Barcelona food scene.
Understanding food culture in Spain
Spanish dining culture is a bit different from ours. A typical breakfast – or desayuno – consists mainly of a cup of black coffee, sometimes they drink café con leche (coffee with milk) with pastry.
Lunch, or comida, is the main meal of the day. Spaniards eat lunch between 2-4 p.m. Traditionally, it’s a more substantial meal than dinner and has several courses. Dinner is much smaller and often consists of something lighter such as a salad, a selection of tapas, or a sandwich. Spaniards tend to eat dinner quite late anytime from 9 p.m until 11 p.m.
Spain is famous for its tapas culture, a small snack offered mainly in bars. It’s mostly shared with friends while socializing and enjoying each other’s company. Sobremesa, literally meaning “over the table,” referring to the conversations after a meal is another custom of Spaniards. So instead of leaving after finishing the meal, they love staying at the table and engaging in conversations that may last for hours.
Siesta is not a myth in Spain. It exists everywhere, even in big and busy cities like Barcelona or Madrid. Siesta refers to a break time after the mid-day meal. Some businesses and dining venues shut down for about two hours and return home to eat lunch with their families. Several of the restaurants in this list also closes for a couple of hours in the afternoon. So be cautious of that.
Wine plays a big part of the food culture in Spain. Spaniards love sipping wine with their meals no matter if it’s out in the restaurant or at home. Some of the restaurants even include a glass of wine in their lunch menus.
Apart from wine, coffee is another essential beverage of food culture in Spain. Spaniards often drink several cups of coffee during the day, especially after a Spanish meal and a dessert.
Best tapas restaurants in Barcelona
Located in the Eixample district, El Mercat is one of the best tapas restaurants in Barcelona. Catering Mediterranean, European, Spanish, and Catalan cuisine, El Mercat has a wide choice of meals, some of which are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.
On our visit to El Mercat, we had a couple of meals to try and share. Their menu is not big but has a diverse choice of not only tapas but main courses to share and special meals. No visit to Barcelona is complete without Patatas Bravas, a Spanish version of French Fries with spicy sauce. At El Mercat, Patatas Bravas were crispy on the outside and tender from the inside.
Another tapas we tried was Iberian Jamon with coca bread, which basically is toasted bread with tomatoes and Iberian ham. And as a special meal, we tried Oxtail stew. This might sound strange, but it was so darn delicious! You wouldn’t think for a split second that it was made from a tail.
Address: The intersection of Carrer de Casp and Bruc; Closest metro: Urquinaona
Pinotxo Bar – The Munching Traveller
La Boqueria Market is another great choice for the best tapas restaurants in Barcelona. Pinotxo Bar, located right at the front, is hard to miss. It usually has long queues for a seat at the tiny bar.
When you are seated, the staff will often give you some recommendations for food. We were fortunate to be seated right in front of the charismatic Juanito Bayern, the owner of the place. Pictures of him are plastered everywhere in the bar.
He recommended a plate of chickpeas and they were simply the best we have ever had. If you are there early, grab a plate of Spanish tortilla with your meal. Other amazing dishes include the stewed tripe and grilled beef skewer; freshly prepared on demand. At the end of the meal, wash down the grease with a cup of coffee or a beer!
Address: Mercat de la Boqueria; Closest metro: Liceu
El Quim de la Boqueria – Cruise Lifestyle
Found amongst the fresh fruit, seafood and cured ham stalls of the bustling Mercat de la Boqueria, El Quim is a classic counter and another great choice for tapas restaurants in Barcelona. This hugely popular joint among visitors has been mentioned in international publications such as Conde Nast Traveller, which rated El Quim de la Boqueria as one of the top tapas bars in Barcelona.
I’ve visited El Quim twice and have learned that if you want to eat here, you need to arrive early and be prepared to wait for seats. I arrived 45 minutes before opening time in order to guarantee a spot. The limited seating gives you a front-row view of the cooking whilst still retaining the atmosphere of the marketplace.
I enjoyed the house special of fried eggs and baby squid with olive oil, garlic, chili pepper, and Maldon salt and pepper. El Quim sources its ingredients from within La Boqueria and the head chef, Quim, says that he has the best larder right next door. If you are looking for locally-sourced, freshly-cooked Catalan tapas dishes, El Quim de la Boqueria hits the spot.
Address: Mercat de La Boqueria; Closest metro: Liceu
Bilbao Beria – ZipUp &Go
Pintxos, or pinchos are the quintessential snacks in Spain, and you can usually find them in bars or small taverns. While most of us are familiar with tapas, pintxos are prepared on top of a small piece of bread and served with a toothpick.
Over here at Bilbao Berria, they keep up with the tradition of picking the pintos, rather than ordering them, just like how they do in Basque Country. What this means is that you take up a plate near the counter and simply pick up whichever pintxo whets your appetite.
Once you have collected the food you want, you check out at the cashier. The price for a pintxo ranges between €1.5 to €2.5 range. Be careful though, you will be tempted to pick up so many of these delicious snacks that your bill will skyrocket quickly! But we can assure you it is worth every penny.
Pair them with a glass of Spanish beer to have the best experience!
Address: Placa Nova 3; Closest Metro: Jaime I
Txirimiri – Got My Backpack
Located on Carrer de la Princesa in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, Txirimiri serves traditional food from the Basque country in northern Spain, making it one of the best Spanish restaurants in Barcelona.
Their signature dish Pintxos, the Basque country equivalent of tapas. These are small slices of bread with a variety of toppings including Chorizo, Manchego cheese, smoked salmon and egg, there was a great variety to choose from and every single one bought a different sensation.
Pintxo means ‘spike’ in Basque, this refers to the skewer that holds the bread and toppings together. The restaurant has a unique system where you keep the skewers and hand them in at the end which the staff then use to calculate your bill.
As with traditional tapas, Pintxos is all about the social experience. As I was traveling solo in Barcelona, I joined Sanderman’s Tapas tour which stopped at this restaurant among others.
The restaurant serves a range of other traditional dishes besides Pintxos and caters to vegetarian diets too.
Address: Carrer de la Princesa 11; Closest Metro: Jaime I
Cervecería Catalana – Map Trotting
You might have to line up outside and wait for a seat at this popular local foodie spot in Barcelona but that is a true indicator of the quality on offer. Cervecería Catalana (Catalan Brewery) is found to the north of the center just 2 blocks away from the stunning Casa Lleó Morera and any waiting for a table is well worth it.
There’s limited seating outside if you want to go alfresco but you might just have to settle for what’s available. The service can be a bit on the hectic side but the staff will do their best to serve you quickly even at peak times. In our opinion, the chaos just adds to this top local food experience, ideal after a visit to the Montserrat monastery nearby.
With one of the widest selections of tapas found in Barcelona, even the fussiest of eaters won’t be short on food options here. Among the reasonably priced menu highlights are the codfish fritters and the camembert with almonds and berries. Just don’t forget to save some room for the regularly updated dessert options!
Address: Carrer de Mallorca 236; Closest Metro: Diagonal
Bormuth – Always Find Adventure
It’s in many guidebooks, and it was recommended to me by a few of the born-and-bred in Barcelona locals. I’ve been here at least 3 times in the past year, and I have plans to return soon.
The restaurant is situated in one of the most charming and trendy neighborhoods in Barcelona – El Born. The name actually comes from the combination of El Born and Vermouth, which is a typical aperitif served in the Catalonian region of Spain.
The tapas and drinks are affordable, and the menu has all the classic Spanish tapas (patatas bravas, pan con tomate, Spanish tortilla), as well as some delicious local ones. If you’re adventurous, I recommend the breaded eggplant/aubergine with honey or the chicken wings in garlic sauce. For drinks, sangria is very good.
It’s a very busy and popular place but it’s worth the wait if there is one. It’s recommended to arrive early, or if you have 4 people dining, try to make a reservation at least 48 hours in advance.
Address: Plaça Comercial 1; Closest Metro: Jaime I
El Xampanyet – A Charming Escape
If you are planning to do a tapas crawl, El Born in Old Barcelona is the perfect neighborhood. There are many excellent tapas bars in El Born but one that stands out is El Xampanyet. It is an unassuming yet popular tapas bar close to the Picasso Museum. It has been family-owned for 3 generations and the staff is very friendly.
With traditional and unique tapas options to choose from, it is considered to be one of the best tapas restaurants in Barcelona and is visited by many tourists and locals alike. Because of its popularity and fewer tables, be prepared to wait if you go during peak hours. Some of our favorites to try are the olives, anchovies, cured meats, salted cod, tortilla, grilled octopus, sausage and the Padron peppers. While you are there, do not forget to sip on some Cava, an excellent Spanish sparkling wine made in Catalonia. And for other places to eat in Barcelona, here’s Barcelona foodie guide
Address: Carrer de Montcada 22; Closest Metro: Jaime I
Tipo Tapa – Robe Trotting
On a busy corner of the city, you’ll find one of the best tapas restaurants in Barcelona. Tipo Tapa is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. They’ve got indoor and outdoor seating and are pet-friendly in case you’re traveling with a furry family member. In a tourist city where restaurants can be hit or miss, a visit to Tipo Tapa should be a part of any Barcelona itinerary!
Servings a delicious selection of tapas, sliders, seafood and a robust wine list, Tipo Tapa won’t disappoint. There are plenty of options for meat lovers, vegans and anyone in between. Make sure to save room for dessert, they have a delicious chocolate coulant that will make your night! The service is friendly and quick despite an almost constant crowd. They offer a menu in English and Catalan, so ordering is simple. It’s necessary to reserve a table, even on weeknights but you’ll understand why it’s so popular when you visit.
Address: Carrer de Rogent 21; Closest Metro: Clot
Where to eat paella in Barcelona
L’Arrosseria Xàtiva – Chris & Ellen
If you are looking for a place where to eat paella in Barcelona, then L’Arrosseria Xativa is a go-to place. We rarely visited the same restaurant more than once in our almost two years of full-time travel. But paella here was so good, we couldn’t wait until our next Barcelona trip to taste it again.
Head out into the Les Corts neighborhood in Barcelona, far off the typical tourist path, and you’ll find this modern and cozy restaurant filled with the sounds of Spanish conversations and sizzling cast iron pans.
On our first visit, our waiter, who was the owner’s son and looked strikingly like Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld, excitedly explained the menu to us. Their family is originally from Valencia and they actually ship the rice from there since apparently it makes the best paella.
We ordered the Valencian paella with chicken, vegetables and garrofó – a traditional Valencian bean. The hot cast iron pan dominated the middle of the table, sending aromas of delicious spices into the air around us. At the end of the meal, the traditional wooden spoons were perfect for getting all of the crunchy, broth-soaked and toasted rice off the bottom of the pan.
The paella was cooked perfectly – an excellent ratio of meat and vegetables to rice, absolutely no trace of dryness, and soaked in the flavors of basil, saffron, and rosemary.
If you’re looking for an excellent paella in Barcelona, venture away from the laminated menus and tourist crowds and head to L’Arrosseria Xàtiva and tell Kramer hi for me.
Address: Carrer Bordeus 35; Closest Metro: Entença
Breakfast places in Barcelona
This vibrant and busy cafe in the Eixample district is one of the perfect breakfast places in Barcelona. We came here quite late, and the place was full, so we had to wait for a couple of minutes to be seated.
Citizen Cafe offers a wide choice of light and full board meals to keep your hunger at bay. Here, you can order breakfast and brunch bowls, ceviches (seafood dish), salads, various appetizers to share, brunch plates and burgers to name a few.
I had a chocolate bagel with cream cheese and jam. It was light but quite filling. What I liked the most was the fact that the bagel was not very sweet.
Address: Plaza Urquinaona 4; Closest metro: Urquinaona
FitBar – Volumes and Voyages
If you’re looking for an affordable and healthy brunch and breakfast places in Barcelona, then you have to go to FitBar. This small juice bar serves up some of the best acai bowls at a super budget-friendly price. They also serve smoothies and crepes! What more could you want?
Acai bowls start at €5.90 and range up to €11.50, depending on the toppings you choose. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I suggest going with the classic acai bowl with almond butter on top. You can’t go wrong with that! Luckily, you do get a good amount of acai as well – it’s more than worth the money.
FitBar has two locations – one near Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter and one in La Barceloneta. Keep in mind that this store is more of a grab-and-go kind of place. There’s no seating, but both locations are in areas that have great views, so it’s super easy to just grab your smoothie bowl, crepe, or smoothie, and people-watch or take in the local sites.
Addresses: Carrer de Sant Miquel 4; Closest metro: Barceloneta and Carrer dels Escudellers 56; Closest metro: Jaume I or Liceu
Alsur Café and Backdoor Bar – Kirstie Will Travel
The city certainly isn’t short of quirky brunch bars, but Alsur Café and Backdoor Bar stands out as one of the best breakfast places in Barcelona. You’ll find it just to the west of Ciutadella Park, in the beautiful El Born neighborhood.
They have everything from eggs, buddha bowls, tapas, and burgers, all with their own unique twist. For drinks, they boast an equally extensive menu of cocktails, juices, and flavored coffees – you really do have an endless choice in this place. What’s even better, the quality of the food is not compromised in any way- my visit to Alsur Café and Backdoor Bar was easily one of the best meals I had in Barcelona. The interior is as cute and cozy as you’d expect, but I’d recommend sitting outside to watch the world go by – the extra 10% charge is more than worth it for how nice it is!
If you can hold off until the afternoon, they have an incredible lunch deal, where you can pick any meal, and then for only €2 extra, add a drink, dessert, and coffee. By doing this you can save around €10 and I promise you’ll leave absolutely stuffed!
Address: Carrer de Sant Miquel 4; Closest metro: Barceloneta or Jaume I
Vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona
The Pan’s Club
I found this place on TripAdvisor when I was wandering the streets of El Born and wanted a quick bite. Apparently, according to the reviews I read, the Pan’s Club is one of the most popular vegan restaurants in Barcelona, where all the meals are made from fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients. They offer a wide variety of quiches, salads, milkshakes, and smoothies. It’s also a very budget-friendly joint.
Meals here are delicious and quite filling. The only downside is that there’s no seating area except a small bench right in front of the cafe. As I got it, the customers of Pan’s Club come here for takeaway meals and lunch boxes.
Address: Plaça de la Llana, 16. Closest metro: Jaume I
Flax and Kale – Anne Travel Foodie
This is one of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona. They focus on healthy dishes and allergies and dietary wishes like vegan and paleo are clearly marked on the menu. There’s no meat on the menu. There are a few fish dishes but around 80% of the dishes are vegan. Teresa Carles is the chef in charge of Flax and Kale. She’s passionate about good food and making people happy and healthy.
Flax and Kale is probably the most popular restaurant in Barcelona on Instagram, they have more than 100,000 followers! Because they’re this popular, it can get quite busy. Try to avoid peak hours if you want to be sure of a spot. Anne from Anne Travel Foodie went to Flax and Kale and she didn’t have to wait long for a table and after she ordered her dish also came quite fast.
And don’t worry, you can still satisfy your sweet tooth at Flax and Kale, they also have all kinds of muffins and cupcakes.
Address: Carrer dels Tallers 74b; Closest metro: Universitat
Menu Del Dia Barcelona – Barcelona restaurants for lunch
Le Cucine Mandarosso
If you are wandering through the streets close to the Palau de la Musica Catalana or elsewhere in El Born and get hungry, head to Le Cucine Mandarosso, a small joint for homemade Italian cuisine offering original recipes from fresh and seasonal market ingredients. The cafe is only open through lunch and dinner time; it is closed from 4 p.m to 8 p.m. Due its size, it is often full, so make reservations in advance.
Here, expect hearty, grandma-style cooking where the main meals are different kinds of pasta. As an appetizer, we took mozzarella cheese, ham, and veggie plate and each of us had a different plate of pasta. Portions are decent and the taste is superb. If you still have a space in your stomach try their Italian desserts too. Yum!
Address: Carrer de Verdaguer i Callís 4; Closest metro: Urquinaona
La Pubilla – Travel for Bliss
Tucked away in a local part of the Gracia neighborhood is La Pubilla. The restaurant, or bar as they call it, is small with simple tables and a bar area at the front. For breakfast, you can find locals perched on stools eating their breakfast sandwiches and sipping their café con leche. Lunchtime is always busy, as they serve up their super tasty Menu Del Dia (Menu of the Day) in Barcelona, rated as one of the best lunch spots in the city. You can instantly see why locals and visitors flock here. Full of flavor and with a flair for experimentation, the food is rich while still showcasing Catalan tradition.
Dinner is based around tapas or platillos (small plates) and has items like grilled scallop with roasted pork belly or their famous steak tartar. The service is excellent and quick, meaning wait times at the busy restaurant are usually short. Their wine list is extensive with many great Spanish varieties and international options. If you want to experience a Catalan tradition, they invite you to visit them on a Saturday for vermouth and some excellently crafted tapas.
Address: Carrer de Verdaguer i Callís 4; Closest metro: Fontana
Other cool and must-try restaurants in Barcelona
Casa Rafols is one of the best restaurants in Barcelona for dinner and a local favorite. I recommend reserving a table in advance. The popularity of Casa Rafols increased not only because it serves finger-licking delicious food, but also due to the venues interesting history.
Back in 1911, the place was a hardware store that housed a secret dining room in its basement during the Spanish Civil War. Balcastro Group, that manages the restaurant, aimed to preserve the antique details and its significant history.
The menu at Casa Rafols is extensive with breakfast and lunch options. Their choice of tapas is huge ranging from traditional, seafood, and meat tapas, making it another great restaurant for tapas in Barcelona.
Here, we tried quite a selection of meals: Truffled fried eggs with foie, steamed cockles, risotto with black truffle and homemade tortilla – Spanish omelet with potatoes. And don’t forget to pair your meals with Sangrias Lolea, a lightly sparkling beverage with a perfect blend of wine and fruit – another favorite drink of many locals.
Address: Ronda de Sant Pere 74; Closest metro: Arc de Triomf
Disfrutar – Carly of Papers and Airplanes
If you’re searching for a fine dining option in Barcelona, you can’t beat Disfrutar. The name in English means “enjoy”. It’s one of many Michelin star restaurants in Barcelona with two stars often ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world. You can find it in Barcelona’s Eixample neighborhood.
The experience of having dinner at Disfrutar is somewhere between having a meal and seeing a show. The restaurant offers classic and seasonal tasting menus featuring a series of creative small plates. Each plate is presented with flair – some dishes require a finishing touch of heat from a blow torch, others are arranged atop uncommon serving platters. The dishes showcase local ingredients in an exceptional fashion. Each course utilizes these ingredients in creative and often playful ways. The menus are not available to see beforehand, which only contributes to the surprising adventure of a meal at Disfrutar.
If you’re interested in visiting Disfrutar, be sure to make your reservation as far ahead as possible. The restaurant is often fully booked months in advance.
Address:Carrer de Villarroel 163; Closest metro: Hospital Clinic
La Fonda Restaurant – Calculated Traveller
La Fonda Restaurant in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona is my go-to restaurant when I’m visiting the city. It’s a quick walk from Las Ramblas and has a nice ambiance, delicious cuisine, and it opens early for those of us who don’t like waiting until 9 pm for dinner!
I first discovered La Fonda over ten years ago when we stumbled upon a long queue of people waiting for the restaurant to open. Not to be left out, we joined the line. Since then, demand has insisted that they open early and as a result, they are now open for lunch and dinner.
Since its physical location is in the heart of the tourist zone, I suppose some may say it’s a restaurant for tourists, especially when you look around at the international faces in the dining room. But rest assured, if you take a moment you’ll hear the sound of local voices also.
Offering budget-friendly food, including a variety of prix fixe 3-course menus offerings for lunch and dinner, La Fonda Restaurant doesn’t disappoint.
Address: Carrer dels Escudellers 10; Closest metro: Jaume I
Lascar 74 – A Rai of Light
During my first visit to Europe, I made sure to see as many of my favorite cities as the duration of my Schengen countries visa would allow. My time in Barcelona was a highlight, in part due to the variety and flavor of the food found all over.
Lascar 74, a cevichería-bar in Poble Sec neighborhood, is one of the must-try restaurants in Barcelona and one of my favorites with a good blend of flavors and cultures. The extensive menu features ceviches, poke bowls, specialty items, and of course a whole lot of seasonal seafood. The scallops and the classic Ceviche Lascar are a particular favorite, well-flavored and well prepared.
For drinks, you can’t go wrong with the Pisco sours, ideal to complete a satisfying meal. The casual atmosphere matches with extensive service, with the staff being very knowledgeable about the food items and are happy to recommend great choices. Highly recommended if you’re interested in new flavors and experiences.
Address:Carrer del Roser 74; Closest metro: Paral-lei
Mammamia – Loving Life In Spain
Barcelona’s Poble Nou district is packed with restaurants and cafés. It is a young and family neighborhood with not many tourists, plus it’s close to the beach. As an Italian food lover, and someone who has spent a lot of time in Italy, my favorite restaurant in the area is Mammamia.
It has an extensive list of Italian dishes, including the traditional calzones, pizzas, pasta dishes, and more. They have a large stone oven which feeds several people in the restaurant and countless items that are going out the door for to-go dishes and delivery.
The service is always excellent yet friendly. From the first time you eat at the restaurant, you will feel like you have been friends with the staff forever; it’s like being at home. I can’t recommend anything specific because I love all the pizzas I have tried here, as well as the calzone. Although the calzone is always two meals for me. Additionally, make sure to try their pistachio chocolate cake dessert; it is fantastic!
Address: Carrer de Pallars 230; Closest metro: Llacuna
As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments down below, or connect with me on my social media channels. I will be happy to assist you as much as possible.