Where to Eat in Barcelona and Not Be Ripped Off, Disappointed or Still Hungry

To say that Barcelona (as a city) underwhelms me is an understatement. And its food? Ugh, I don’t even want to go there. In my half a dozen previous trips to Catalonia, a place renowned for being avant garde – in food and otherwise – I’d never really had a decent food experience. From the overpriced paella on Las Ramblas to reheated pintxos in El Born, I was decebut.

tapas in barcelona

That’s where Eat Guides came in. Written by Regina Winkle-Bryan, an transplant from foodie haven Portland to the Ciudad Condal, and Adrián Benítez Martos, a born and bred barcelonés, did my homework for me. I was thrilled to have Reg send me a copy of the ebook she and Adri had penned to help tourists like me understand catalan cuisine and where to find it.

Using my hotel near La Rambla and the Boquería as a starting point, I had a few hours to kill before meeting a friend and wanted to dive headfirst into real catalan cuisine. The 123-paged book lists food joints by both neighborhood and proximity to big sites, but I was interested in seeing if there was real food amidst the tourist traps in the old city. My rules – I had to be able to reach it on foot, wouldn’t order from a menu translated into English and would try four places over the course of the day.

Granja La Pallaresa

I had already zeroed in on my first stop of the day before touching down in Barcelona. After taking the first flight out in the morning, I was starving by the time I checked into the hotel, so I quickly dropped my bags and walked into the Barri Gòtic. Granja La Pallaresa as literally 30 meters off Las Ramblas, but you would have never known.

Pastry shop in Barcelona

La pallaresa Bakery

ensaimada pastries

This is lo mío: Castillian and catalan blended into one incomprehensible buzz in the wood-paneled bar manned by a portly woman and her husband, who sported a black satin bow tie. I didn’t ask to see a menu, but ordered what Regina suggested: an ensaimada pastry and a cup of French chocolate.

I watched as the other patrons read newspapers in catalan and picked at their churros. My flaky ensaimada arrived with so much powdeed sugar that it left a ring on the table as I paid my 4,15€ and drank down the chocolate.

Carrer Petrixol, 11. Open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 9pm, and Sundays from 9am to 1pm and 5pm to 9pm.


When Catherine and I went to Barcelona a decade ago, we stayed in El Raval. It’s gritty, it’s long been considered seedy and unsafe, and it’s full of old man bars.

I wanted to take the long way to my next stop, but the long way meant passing a whole slew of old man bars, and I always get sucked into them. Just two blocks down, I found that these so-called ‘bodegas’ are staples in working neighborhoods. Much more than just a bar, the bodegas also sell drinks and snacks, as well as canned goods, and locals have their preferred place. I ordered a vemouth at 1,85€, which came with four mussels.

Vermouth Bodegas in Barcelona

This place was one of the good ones – there was no bar, just coolers in its place. No dishwasher. No cell service. Two adorable grandpas who called the waitress nena. Rock FM on the stereo. Everyone in the neighborhood in the time it took me to drink a vermouth and scribble down some notes on pieces of paper I’d hastily ripped out of a notebook. A woman walked in with a crumpled water bottle and contemplated the taps on the wall. “Pues, un moscatel quiero hoy.”

I took Catherine back the next day.

Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 26. Open daily, though I could never tell you when.

Cervecería Moritz

I knew Barcelona produced Estrella Damm beer, but Moritz is served on tap at many bars in the region. Its namesake was the brewery’s founder, Louis Moritz. Barcelona has long been a haven for foreigners, and Moritz left his native France for the ciudad condal in the 1850s, setting up a small brewery in El Raval.

Cerveceria Moritz

Moritz Beer Barcelona

visiting Cerveceria Moritz in Barcelona

More than 160 years later, Moritz is the only beer in the world whose marketing is done entirely in Catalan, and their swanky headquarters is part museum, part brewery and part gastrobar. Though beer is no longer mass-produced on Ronda Sant Antoni, they do serve two types of unpasteurized beer that’s been made in-house. I had two – one of each flavor – for 3,80€.

Ronda de Sant Antoni, 41 (Universitat or Sant Antoni). Open daily from noon to 2am. Accepts credit cards.


My hunger had somewhat dissipated by the time I got to Onofre, a tapas bar located just inside the Barri Gótic’s old city walls. Part restaurant, part wine shop, I was actually asked to get up from my seat when a patron wanted to snag a bottle of wine from right behind me. The place felt intimate – there was another lone diner and a group of business people chatting quietly at a table in the corner.

Provolone tapa

Without thinking much, I blindly ordered the menú del día without even checking out the tapas menu. As Adri points out in Eat Guides, quality tapas bars in the center of town are hard to come by, but Onofre does regional tapas and does them well. The menu featured three dishes: a creamy lentil purée, over-roasted provolone with red berries and a spicy carnitas burrito, followed up with a slice of cake. Overall, they were probably the best tapas I’ve had in Barcelona, but nothing terribly special. The four dishes and a beer cost 10,75€.

Carrer de Magdalen, 19 (Jaume I). Open Monday to Saturday from 10am – 5pm and 7:30pm – midnight.

The Take Away

Good food isn’t completely absent of the Barcelona cuisine scene, though you have to know where to look. Any place on the Ramblas and Barri Gòtic (as well as near a touristic monument) is more or less off-limits, though Gràcia, Poblesec and Poblenou are said to be up-and-coming gastronomic hot spots.

Using what I’d read in Eat Guides, Saturday night would be a time to venture out on our own and see if we could find something good. We headed to Sant Antoni on foot to see the neighborhood’s Correfoc, a rain of sparks and firecrackers in the street. Even after a food tour in the morning, we were stuffed.

tapas at casa Lucio Barcelona

Casa Lucio spilled light onto the dark street. The place felt like a cave, with a small bar, seating downstairs and racks of wine on the wall. We ordered a few glasses of Habla del Silencio and asked to see a menu. But there was none, so Lucio, a moody old dog with glasses and a thick white beard, listed what they had orally. The only other person who spoke English in the whole place was the waiter, Patrick.We ordered more than our fill, mainly pintxos of meats and cheeses, as well as a bottle of wine to take with us, for around 60€.

Carrer de Vildomat, 59. Open for lunch and dinner.

Eat Guides Barcelona

Having shared a meal with Regina as part of the Spain Scoop team, I knew that eats are important to her. It’s no surprise, then, that the Eat Guides ebook is a fun read and more than just a guide on where to eat – each listing has anecdotes, recommendations on what to order and drink from both vegetarian Regina and her carnivore co-author, plus a rough estimate on price for a meal for two.


The guide is also easy to use – there are numbered maps, guides by type of food and neighborhood, as well as a handy translation guide to catalan words that a Castillian speaker likely doesn’t know. And then, of course, there are plenty of listings for watering holes, along with tips for markets and gastro-themed side trips. If you like to eat, this book is a multi-course meal, served simply but that will leave you stuffed.

The guide is $4.99 on Amazon, iBooks and Google Play – a small price to pay for a big guide! You can also take my article on your phone – offline! – by downloading GPSMyCity and purchasing this guide with built-in GPS. Your purchase helps run this site!

One thing you absolutely must do: tell me your favorite Spanish dish – catalan or otherwise!

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. Like you, Barcelona has underwhelmed me. However, I’m planning to give it another shot at some point this year. After reading about all these good places to eat, I think they might help me, or at least my stomach, like Barcelona more.
    Mike of Mapless Mike recently posted..3 Things I Love About Granada, SpainMy Profile

    • I am always willing to give a city another try, especially because so many factors can be at play. Hope you like the ebook!

  2. YOU – you can always find good food. :)
    Wandering Educators recently posted..5 Foods to Try in São Paulo, BrazilMy Profile

  3. There’s nothing that makes my heart sing quite like a big bowl of well-made salmorejo. I spent the summer playing with recipes trying to find my perfect one… but it’s getting there!

    • Spanish dishes can be complicated, despite their simple ingredients. But a good old salmorejo always satisfies!

  4. Love these recommendations! Am looking forward to trying Granja and the Bodega—they sound right up my alley and totes castizo…however you say that in Catalan 😉
    Trevor Huxham recently posted..10 Things to Do in Santiago de Compostela, SpainMy Profile

  5. So fun to meet you in Barcelona!!! And although we definitely don’t view eye to eye on the greatness of this city, I’m so glad the old man bars won you over a little bit. I always pass the Granja but have never checked it out–I’ll put that on my growing list! Hopefully see you in the south sometime!

  6. Will definitely check some of these places out next time I go to Barça! Hard to find non-toursity spots in the center.

    My favorite dishes are from the South of course 😉 can’t get enough choco frito, pimientos asados con melva, papas bravas and salmorejo!

  7. Thanks for the recommendations! That bodega with the taps looks A-MA-ZING. I’m excited to return to Barcelona after first stepping foot on Spanish (Catalan) soil 5 years ago!

  8. Overpriced paella on Las Ramblas? Haha been there, done that 😉 I’m printing your write-up and picking up a copy of Eat Guides when I get to Barcelona in a couple of months
    Savi of Bruised Passports recently posted..11 Things To Do In Jodhpur, IndiaMy Profile

    • Well worth it, guys! Will you be at TBEX? Hoping to make it, but logistics are complicated (and my life outside the online world has gotten hectic!)

  9. Having never been to Barcelona, I had no idea that you had to look so hard for authentic food! (Unlike Seville, where it seems to be everywhere . . . ). Good to know, and I am hoping to get there soon, so I’d love a copy of this book!
    Larissa recently posted..Local flavor: Trying reindeer sausage in AlaskaMy Profile

    • I really am spoiled in Seville! Food is usually good and it’s cheap. Though do try ibérico ham – it blows serrano out of the water!

  10. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I LOVE Serrano ham!
    Larissa recently posted..Buddy Holly’s final show: Visiting the Surf BallroomMy Profile

  11. Thank you so much for this. As I make my Spain plans I need to know where to go and NOT go for food.

  12. I’d love to eat at Ferran Adria’s tapas place, Tickets. I’ve always found the food in Barcelona very good – but I haven’t eaten around the Ramblas, though, so that might be why.
    Theodora recently posted..The Best Restaurants in Makassar, IndonesiaMy Profile

    • I’ve heard about Tickets – sounds great, but with a long wait time! Poblenou and Poblesec are becoming hotbeds of gastronomic activity, and we ate well in Gràcia. Definitely helps to get off the Ramblas!

  13. We’ve always eaten well in Barcelona. But we’re now looking forward to enjoying even memorable meals. Thanks for the tips.
    Gran Canaria Local recently posted..El apartamentoMy Profile

    • I can imagine you’d have a better time if you’ve done research for veggie options. I know that great places exist, but I’ve always had the impediment of a picky family and the geographic location. Stayed tuned for what we ate on a food tour!

  14. Tapas always seem like a mystery to me – how many to get, do you order them all at once or one at a time? The Eat Guide for Barcelona looks like a smart investment for anyone interested in a tasty authentic local meal. The ensaimada pastry and French chocolate look delicious!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..ICELAND: 10 Incredible Iceland WaterfallsMy Profile

    • What’s really great about tapas is that there are no rules! Typically you’d start with 2 or 3 a person, and order more if you’re hungry. Sizes and price vary by restaurant, and there are usually daily specials called “fuera de carta.” Qué aproveche!


  1. […] you ever eaten well in Barcelona? Check out my other recommendations for food and a chance to win an eBook from Eat Guides […]

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