Barcelona foodie guide: where locals eat and drink
Local food writers pick the best places to eat and drink in Barcelona for a foodie weekend break
Looking for the best restaurants in Barcelona? We've found the best places to eat in Barcelona, including the top tapas restaurants where the locals eat, coffee shops and food markets.
Check out our Barcelona guide here...
Best tapas restaurants in Barcelona
Escape the tourists of El Barrio Gótico to join locals in the bars of neighbouring El Born. This one is particularly popular among locals, who come to drink the bar’s own-brand cava before a night on the town.
There are tapas bar clichés aplenty – cigarette boxes framed on pale-yellow walls, a zinc bar showcasing Catalan dishes, blue-tiled alcoves at the back for when it gets busy (all the time) – but it’s the real deal. Come for the cava (served by the glass or in litre bottles), and stay to soak up the loud, chaotic atmosphere. Tapas are simple but on-point – order as the locals do with ‘pimientos con carne’ to receive a plate of blistered padrón peppers and soft, pink pluma ibérico pork.
Carrer de Montcada 22, +34 933197003
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Bar La Plata
Pop in to this pretty, old-school tapas bar, on a corner in El Bairro Gótico, to pick on the same four dishes it’s been serving since opening in 1945 – piles of little fried fish (pescaditos), glistening anchovy montaditos, a simple tomato salad with chopped onion and olives and Catalan butifarra sausage.
There’s a handful of tables in the tiny room, made all the more cosy with framed photographs, blue tiles covering the corner bar and barrels of sherry sitting snuggly next to rows of vermouth bottles. Glass doors open onto the pavement on both sides to ensure it doesn’t get too stuffy, and to encourage passers-by to chat with punters.
Centric Canalla, Raval
This atmospheric bar-cum-café has been going since 1940, and is still a cosy hangout to kick back with a café con leche or a glass of red. Lamps protrude elegantly from wood-panelled walls lined with black and white photographs, a large marble-topped mahogany bar curves along two walls and mirrored shelves reflect row after row of pretty spirit bottles.
Traditional tapas (homemade croquettas, patatas bravas, Galician octopus) sit alongside modern dishes such as mini burgers with foie gras, confit artichokes, and mussels cooked in coconut milk with chilli and coriander. Vermouth is served over ice with a gobstopper-sized olive, and there are plenty of artsy events, from live music to poetry nights.
A cosy old bar that fills up with locals gathering for a glass of vermouth and some tapas, Bodega Quimet oozes charm and authenticity. It’s in a neighbourhood not yet overrun with tourists, and the grilled octopus is so good it’s almost life changing.
Carrer de Vic 23; 00 34 932 184 189
Let your waiter guide you through the impressive collection of natural wines at bookshop-turned-restaurant Pepa Pla. With old bookshelves as a backdrop, enjoy an array of small plates to share – just make sure you leave room for the unforgettable pistachio tiramisu.
Carrer d'Aribau, 41, facebook.com/PepaPlaBar
La Cova Fumada
A vestige of the days when Barceloneta was still a fisherman’s quarter, homely La Cova Fumada is as authentic as it gets. Get there by noon to bag a seat beneath painted beams and strip-lights and feast on baked artichokes, pristine grilled sardines, and wine from the barrel.
Carrer del Baluart 56, 00 34 932 214 061
Best bars in Barcelona
Bodega Fermín – for craft beer and wine
Locals visit Bodega Fermín to fill up their wine bottles from its barrels but, for fans of craft beer, the rotating selections on tap and by the bottle make it well worth a visit, too. Order a board of local cheeses and pair it with a citrussy IPA.
Can Cisa Bar Brutal – for natural wines
At night, convivial Can Cisa Bar Brutal is the place to work your way through local natural wines paired with superlative tapas.
33 by Santi Ortiz – for cocktails
The smallest bar in Barcelona, 33 by Santi Ortiz, is an overlooked gem as far as craft cocktails are concerned. In this little temple dedicated to elaborate but affordable concoctions, order The Tree in the Clouds – a dreamy concoction of rum, agave, mountain pine liqueur, lime and Cardamaro.
Bar Zim – for wine and charcuterie
Slip into tiny Bar Zim for wines by the glass with farmhouse cheeses and organic charcuterie. (Carrer de la Dagueria, 20).
Best cafés in Barcelona
Granja M Viader
Locals line up at long-standing breakfast spot Granja M Viader before the shutters rise. Go for a thick, velvety hot chocolate with churros, or one of its famous ‘bikinis’ – a cheese-and-ham-filled toasted sandwich.
Satan's Coffee Corner
A gleaming glass box amongst the rabbit-warren streets of the Barri Gòtic, Satan’s Coffee Corner is a strikingly Scandi-inspired pit-stop for a classic café con leche or the geeky, fruity charms of a cold-press.
The coffee shop serves a unique Japanese breakfast – try the omelette with rice and vegetables or a rice bowl topped with Japanese kimchi, pickled vegetables and poached eggs.
There's a newer branch of Satan's Coffee Corner in Casa Bonay in Eixample.
Granja La Pallaresa
Carrer Petrixol was once known as the sweet street thanks to its legion of granjas (old-fashioned dairies) hawking churros and hot chocolate so thick you could stand a spoon in it. They’re a dying breed these days, but Granja La Pallaresa is still busy doing what these places have always done (Calle Petritxol 11, 00 34 933 022 036).
Cosmo La Central
When the shopping wears you out go to Cosmo La Central to rest your feet. Head upstairs at this bookshop and, at the back, you will find a lovely café with a beautiful terrace. Or go earlier and grab an energising breakfast board. cosmolacentral.com
Best restaurants in Barcelona
Barraca – for lunch with a sea view
Blow away the cobwebs on a crisp winter’s day with a brisk, 20-minute walk from the Born to the beach at Barceloneta. Reward yourself, overlooking the sea at Barraca, with perfectly made rice dishes and a bottle of natural, S02 white from Lleida.
Can Borrell – for a rural lunch in the countryside
A 20-minute train journey to Sant Cugat, plus a 40-minute stroll through the Barcelona countryside is worth it for lunch at rambling farmhouse Can Borrell. Calçots are a wintry treat – grilled, long-stemmed onions that are wrapped in newspaper, steamed and served on roof tiles with romesco sauce and various grilled meats.
Casa José Montalbán – for seafood
The best fish in Barcelona isn’t by the seafront but tucked in Poble Sec at Casa José Montalbán. With little more than a grill and a fryer, it produces stellar fish and seafood, from crisp fried anchovies and sweet baby razor clams to grilled wild turbot off the bone. (Carrer de Margarit 31, 00 34 934 423 143).
The Green Spot – for vegetarian food
Vegetarian restaurant The Green Spot is on a mission to charm even the most hardcore of carnivores. Dishes in this airy, beautifully designed space are a celebration of all that is plant-based. Don’t miss the rhubarb and strawberry crumble.
Can Dende – for brunch
A Brazilian couple run Can Dende, a breezy brunch spot that’s handily close to the beach if you’re planning a day in the sun. The fried green tomatoes with Brazilian cheese is divine. Carrer de la Ciutat de Granada 44; 00 34 646 325 551
Best food shops and markets in Barcelona
Van Van Market – for street food
Barcelona is famous for its street-food markets but one of the best is Van Van Market, which takes place in a variety of shifting locations. Keep an eye out for the Caravan Made food truck with its gourmet sandwiches (fried calamari, marinara meatballs and more). vanvanmarket.com; caravanmade.co
Boqueria – for traditional food market vibes
After the Sagrada Família, the Boqueria food market is the most popular destination in town. Get there before 11am to beat the crowds and rub shoulders with local chefs over a plate of eggs and a glass of cava at El Quim de la Boqueria.
Casa Gispert – for groceries
Even if you don’t plan to shop at age-old Casa Gispert the toasty smell of coffee, chocolate and spice is irresistible. It’s a great place to stock up on marcona almonds, dried figs, saffron and smoky pimentón.
Ferment 9 – for ferments
If you’re a fan of fermentation and a craving strikes, head to Ferment 9. Prebiotics and probiotics rule here, with shelves stocked with all manner of delicious kimchis and kefirs. ferment9.com
Olis Oliva – for olive oil
At diminutive Olis Olivine at Santa Caterina market, Ana Maria will happily give you a tasting of her latest finds. Look out for bottles from the D.O. Siurana (Priorat), Empordà (Costa Brava) and Mallorca, which make some of the best oils in the country.
Check into hip Casa Bonay, a renovated mansion where traditional hydraulic floor tiles are mixed with Gaudí’s iconic paving stones, adding a hint of edginess to its ground floor lounges, coffee bars and restaurant.
Stylish, pared-back bedrooms redefine luxury with hand-woven blankets from Els Teixidors, maxi-bars stocked with premium gin, vodka and single malt, and room service in the shape of a tiffin tin to be eaten in bed.
Casa Bonay makes other foodie hotels seem dull by comparison. Start your day with an alkalizing, antioxidant juice and a mango chia seed breakfast bowl from Mother’s in-house juice bar, with a cold-pressed coffee lovingly crafted by Satan’s Coffee Corner.
Think light, bright, Asian-influenced dishes for lunch at another in-house dining option, Elephant, Crocodile, Monkey, which transforms into an innovative bistro by night, serving sharing plates of wondrous dishes like fried oysters with fennel salad and black garlic alïoli, year-old, dry-aged beef tartare with mulato chilli and egg yolk, and slow-baked tomatoes with almonds, chickpeas and shiso leaf.
Take vermut (vermouth) on the wood-decked roof terrace before dinner, and afterwards hit one of the jewel-coloured velvet sofas in the hotel’s bar, Libertine, where grown-up cocktails are mixed with aplomb by a team of savvy mixologists.
Base yourself on the greenest side of Poble Sec at food lovers’ favourite Hotel Brummell. This boutique hotel boasts a rooftop pool, bright and modern rooms and vending machines stuffed with wine and snacks.
Brummell Kitchen's tropical oasis is where to head for brunch at the weekends. Tuck into dishes from around the world – Caribbean arepas, acai bowls and huevos rancheros to name a few – in the light and airy courtyard.
How to get to Barcelona
Return flights from a range of UK airports cost around £70 (easyJet.com).
Written by Tara Stevens and Maria Åstrand
Photographs: Gareth Morgans, Getty