Cheap and Tasty Eats in Barcelona

Keep Barcelona trip on budget by eating like the locals. Share inexpensive tapas in traditional bars, and feast midday on fixed price menus (bread and wine included).

Highlights
Carrer de Calàbria, 80, 08015 Barcelona, Spain
For well-prepared Mediterranean and Spanish classics as well as some tasty (and healthy) in-house versions of world cuisine, Bar Mono is an ideal and inexpensive choice for a midday meal. Thursday and Friday evenings, as well as Barça game nights, you can wash down tapas and bar food with beer on tap, and watch the game.
Carrer d'Elisabets, 2, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Grown in Galicia but available all over the country in the summer, ‘pimientos de padrón’ are little green peppers that are one of the most popular seasonal tapas in Spain. If you’re in Barcelona, one of the best place to try this simple-but-definite-sense-of-place dish is in Elisabets, just a couple of blocks off Las Ramblas, in the El Raval quarter. Anywhere in Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella district is going to be crowded in summer, but in this unpretentious restaurant, you’ll find a mix of tourists AND neighborhood-residents. The tapas won’t be preciously decorated here, but the portions are generous and the prices are some of the best in the city. My wife and I were hungry, and knowing the usual size of tapas, began ordering a long list--when we got to the fifth dish, our waiter smiled and said “how about if I just get you these to get started, and then you’ll see if you want more.” He laughed as we thanked him later--the portions are about twice what you’ll find in many other tapas bars. The Spanish saying about these peppers: “unos pican, otros no"--some are hot, others not--you’re considered ‘lucky’ if you get one of the spicy ones...but even the not-so-spicy peppers are a flavor-revelation: fruity pepperiness, flash-fried and sprinkled with coarse sea-salt--the evocation of place and season is unmistakable... (Note: on menus you’ll see both “pimientos DE padrón” and “pimientos DEL padrón” printed--don’t let the grammatical detail worry you--the peppers are the same.)
A lot of the best places to eat on the cheap in Barcelona are a little out of the way. For a truly local experience, and the fastest tapas in town at ridiculously cheap prices, try on La Esquinica (the little corner) for size. Do as the Barcelonans do and drink vino turbio (house wine shaken until it’s frothy) and sample a little bit of everything. Croquettes, bombas, patatas bravas (potatoes with garlic mayonnaise and hot sauce), stuffed mussels, and grilled Spanish meats, all prepared in house and served up in a matter of minutes. Note: Like so much Spanish bar food, this is not light cuisine, or particularly vegan or vegetarian friendly. Also, if you go during typical Spanish meal times on a weekend (2-3pm, 8.30-10pm) expect to wait in line to be seated. The nearest metro stops are Vilapicina and Virrei Amat, L5.
Carrer d'Andrea Dòria, 25, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
A short walk from the Barceloneta Market, El Rossinyol is frequented by locals for tasty tapas, cold beers, and hefty midday meals. Rotating daily specials include traditional favorites like Paella, and roast pork with potatoes and peppers. House wine is inexpensive and included in fixed price menus, if not the best.
Av. de Josep Tarradellas, 61, 08029 Barcelona, Badajoz, Spain
Lots of locals eat at Nostrum on a regular basis. It may not be exciting, but it’s simple traditional food, made fresh daily for very good prices and the chain has locations throughout Barcelona. Some dishes can cost as little as 1€ and the prices of most menu items are further discounted for members of the chain’s fan club (you sign up by downloading their app for your phone).
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