Spain is quite well known for it’s Mediterranean cuisine, and I have heard many a tale about the delicacies to be found in Basque country as well as the delectable free tapas you get with your drink in Madrid, however, even though I have been living here for going on 4 years, I have not yet ventured out of Catalunya. Hence my tastebuds have yet to adventure in Spain and have rather only really explored in Barcelona. I am by no means a foodie, I don’t know all the different spices, I can’t really tell you if a pallela is good or not. So this guide is merely my opinions on fun places to eat in Barcelona. I like to stuff my face, and lick my fingers but I also appreciate an interesting locale in which to do it, and the rare smiling waiter gets points in my book.
Catalunya has it’s own cuisine and one of the staples is Pan con tomate or in Catalan Pan amb tomaquet. To be honest this weirded me out at first, but now I can’t get enough of the stuff. If you get lucky your olive oil will be perfectly drizzled and the smashed tomato will be on some nice fresh crunchy bread. It’s just scrumptious, and what’s even more awesome is to eat it in a great little plaza along with an ice cold draft beer, in the sun during a long Barcelona summer afternoon. Favourite plazas of mine in which to do this are probably all located in Gracia my little neighbourhood. Feel free to add some Patatas Bravas, Pimientos del Padron and more beer to your order. Whiling away your time, people watching, in Plaza del Sol or Plaza Virreina, pigeons fluttering about, and Barcelonian neighbours on their balconies and terraces in the surrounding modernista buildings is quite blissful. The plazas also make a great stop off for a coffee, don’t forget to bring your book.
The best time to eat in Barcelona is lunch time. During the siesta which starts anywhere from 12noon and continues up until 5pm, all the shops are closed anyway, so take it easy, find a nice place to eat, and enjoy a long lunch. This should be your main meal of the day, as almost all the restaurants offer a menu del dia, which is half the price of the evening meals. A menu del dia usually consists of a primer plato (first course) a segundo (second course) a drink and a desert. You can find places offering menu del dias from as little as 6 euros up to about 12 euros. The usual price is around 8 or 9 though. Considering that dinner will be about 20 euros for the same snacks, lunch is by far a better option for eating as much as you can. It’s also a great opportunity to try some of the more expensive restaurants. There are plenty of guides and reviews in English on where and what to eat, and I’ll leave it up to the pros to explain.
My favourite meal however is breakfast. Unfortunately breakfast here consists of a coffee and a chocolate croissant, and not really what I’m looking for usually. Barcelona does have a number of great brunch places, and as getting up later, and going to bed later become more of your routine as you immerse yourself in Barcelona life, brunch sounds like an appealing option no? If you fancy a yummy poached egg and hollandaise sauce, head down to El Born and stop in at Picnic at C/Comerc 1
My other favourite places to enjoy a coffee or light snack are in all the hidden gardens about the city. Often you can find a little garden terrace at the back of restuarants or shops, secreted away from the main thoroughfares. There is nothing better than sitting under some leafy trees with a book or sketch pad while sipping on a beverage. Many of my little drawings have had their beginnings on scraps of papers on a terrace table. In the Gracia shop Olokuti, you can try one of their ecological drinks in their sculpture garden. The Antic Theatre near the Palau de la Musica is also a fun stop, sometimes they have productions, and you can play a game of scrabble while you enjoy a drink under the lanterns and trees.
Markets, Bodegas and Champanerias are also fantastic spots to grab a snack or drink. La Boqueria boasts some fantastic little bars inside the market, and just a wander around this colourful site is fascinating. The bodegas are usually wine bars that have their own wine on tap from giant barrels, its cheap and if you fancy a picnic somewhere, you can bring them empty bottles and they will fill them up with wine for you ;) One of the best Bodegas in my opinion is the Bodega Salto, the decor inside this spot near Montjuic is unique to say the least, look out for the sparkly Barbie leg glitter ball and the giant plush tigers!
Since leaving Japan, I have always been on the look out for places to eat japanese food. Completely ridiculous, I know, but I can’t help myself when there is the option of sushi or udon on the menu. Luckily there are a number of good spots to try, and if you feel the need for a little fishy snack then try the comer japones website. They have a great list of guides on all the Japanese restaurants in Barcelona and Madrid. Another great Asian eatery has to be Mosquito, the best spot to get Dim Sum and other dumplings. Beware though, this is a popular spot, and you may have to wait for a table. They also have a vast range of beers, some brewed right in Barcelona.
I will probably add to this guide as I continue to explore the eateries in Barcelona, but for now, have a peek at my friend Robi’s tumblr, she lists plenty of interesting spots, and feel free to shoot me a mail if you have any particular queries. I cannot promise I know everything, but I may be able to point you in the right direction. Last word of advice: Don’t forget to try the Arroz Negro!