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Barcelona Dining

Sample Tapas around Town
Barcelona Dining
When it comes to food and drink, Barcelona offers more than a mouthful. Diners can try traditional Spanish tapas, decadent sweet treats, hearty Catalan classics, and haute cuisine. Pair everything with a variety of local wines and beers.
By AFAR Editors, AFAR Staff
Photo by Matthew Fenster
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    Sample Tapas around Town
    Sample Tapas around Town
    Forget formal meals and instead sample traditional bites like cured meats on pa amb tomàquet (bread rubbed with tomato) and Spanish omelets. Regional specialties such as escalivada (roasted eggplant, onions, and red peppers) and bombas (fried potato balls typically served with garlic mayonnaise and hot sauce) are favorites with locals and visitors alike. Try Quimet & Quimet or El Vaso de Oro for traditionally prepared tapas. La Xula Tapería, in Gràcia, is ideal for seasoned foodies looking for new spins on old classics.
    Photo by Matthew Fenster
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    Barcelona’s Best Produce Markets
    Barcelona’s Best Produce Markets
    Locals say that if you can’t find it at the Boqueria Market, you can’t find it anywhere in the city. Even so, Boqueria is just one of many markets throughout Barcelona. Most neighborhoods have their own well-stocked local produce markets, all selling the freshest fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, cheese, charcuterie, bread, and prepared meals. Wander through any of Barcelona’s neighborhoods to find a small market. Alternatively, pay a visit to the bright-roofed Santa Caterina, Barcelona’s first covered food market and an iconic spot for seasonal produce or a snack on the go.
    Photo by Aubrey Dunnuck
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    The Art of High-End Eating
    The Art of High-End Eating
    Savor unique takes on traditional tapas, Mediterranean fare, and world cuisine—expertly paired with regional wines and beers—at Barcelona’s avant-garde and high-end eateries. The city boasts numerous restaurants with one or more Michelin stars. Make sure to visit El Nacional, a stunning space housing several different specialty restaurants and bars that showcase the best of Spanish gastronomy. Renowned chefs and rising stars are constantly undertaking new restaurant projects. Check out Bodega 1900, a tiny enterprise helmed by Albert Adrià, which offers dishes as innovative and unusual as those served at El Bullí but at more reasonable prices. Plan ahead, though—it’s notoriously hard to book a table.
    Photo by Marc Javierre/age fotostock
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    Decadent and Creative Sweets
    Decadent and Creative Sweets
    In Barcelona, decadence is the norm—from the award-winning chocolate cake at Bubó Bakery to churros with thick hot chocolate from a street stand. Throughout the city, you’ll find shops specializing in cupcakes, authentic Italian gelato, crepes, and macaroons. Try not to smile between mouthfuls of crema catalana, Catalonia’s version of crème brûlée, made with milk instead of heavy cream. For all manner of sweets prepared by a renowned local baker—and a display of creative cakes to drool over—head to Pasteleria Escribà on the Gran Vía. The selection of pastries sold at Caelum were baked by religious orders around the country—a perfect stop for dessert-loving travelers who want an experience they can't find elsewhere.
    Photo by Marta Laurent
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    Romantic and Historic Restaurants
    Romantic and Historic Restaurants
    Freshly pressed white linens, wooden tables, stained-glass windows—there’s an unparalleled romance to sharing a meal in one of Barcelona’s many historic restaurants. Travelers can enjoy an evening of old-world charm and classic Catalan fare at Can Travi Nou, housed in a Catalan country manor house in northern Barcelona, or at Los Caracoles, a restaurant that has been in the same family since 1835. But some Barcelona restaurants have a fascinating history as something else: The glamorous space that El Nacional inhabits was a factory back in the 19th century; the building occupied by the cocktail lounge La Confitería was formerly a candy shop; best of all, Caelum is set in a stone building in the Gothic Quarter that used to be a medieval bathhouse.
    Photo by Guido Krawczyk/age fotostock
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    Raise a Glass to Cheap Nightlife
    Raise a Glass to Cheap Nightlife
    Barcelona is easily one of the more affordable European capitals when it comes to a night out, especially when you go for the local wines and brews. A good variety of wine and cava by the glass is available in most bars, along with common Spanish beers like Estrella, Mahou, and Moritz. While Catalonia’s microbrewery scene is still up-and-coming, more and more establishments have their own beer on tap, not to mention artisanal vermouth and regionally made liquors. Wine bars like Monvínic specialize in wines for every palate, and Can Cisa—Bar Brutal is both wine shop and tapas joint—the deceptively simple taverna actually has an extensive wine selection.
    Photo by Geraldine Campbell
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    Traditional Catalan Fare
    Traditional Catalan Fare
    Resist the urge to eat nothing but paella, and try to sample as many Catalan specialties as you can. Pa amb tomàquet (bread rubbed with a tomato and olive oil mixture and sometimes salt) is popular, and allioli (a potent garlic and olive oil paste) is often served with bean, rice, and potato dishes. Seasonal vegetables like artichokes and calçots—a late-winter varietal of green onions—are grilled and served up with romesco sauce. Hearty fare such as botifarra sausage with white beans will appeal to meat eaters and the very hungry. La Xula Tapería, in Gràcia, and Suculent, in El Raval, both serve up delicious examples.
    Photo by Dorota Bialy/age fotostock
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    Cooking Classes
    Cooking Classes
    If the mere thought of leaving Barcelona has you missing the food, then sign up for a cooking course and learn to re-create your favorite local dishes at home. Most reputable cooking schools offer menus using seasonal and local ingredients, let students eat what they cook, and provide recipes in English and Spanish to take home. Some classes can even be combined with produce market tours. At Barcelona Cooking, a centrally located school on La Rambla, you'll also get a glass of wine expertly paired with the food you're making. You'll just have to flip your potato omelet first.
    Photo by Ian Garlick/age fotostock
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    The Best <em>Bars de Sempre</em>
    The Best Bars de Sempre
    Basic hole-in-the-wall joints, or bars de sempre, are like an extension of home for many Barcelonans. Here, locals sip a mid-morning café amb llet, have a lunchtime beer and sandwich, and share tapas with family and friends come the weekend. What these bars might lack in glamour, they make up for in authenticity, ambience, and generous portions. For the best prices and the friendliest service, head away from major tourist areas in the direction of historically working-class neighborhoods like Barceloneta and Poblenou. Try the home-style bar food at La Cova Fumada, on Carrer Baluart.
    Photo by Chrissy S.