Top 10 “Locals Only” Places to Eat in Barcelona

There’s no question that Barcelona has one of the best food scenes in the entire world. And trust me – I know food. The Catalans have arguably the most fun and sociable food culture EVER. I don’t know how these people stay so thin! With staples like spicy ribs, fresh seafood, tasty little tapas, and pinxos (little open-faced sandwiches) everywhere, there’s virtually fresh and flavorful food around every corner. Of particular importance in Barcelona is the tapas culture. This guide is meant to equip you with the BEST local places to get some tasty grub, with a special emphasis on finding the best tapas in town. There’s no reason to have a bad meal in Barcelona. You could literally tapas hop all day, every day, if you chose. SO, read on for my TOP 10 places to eat in Barcelona. Take notes – and then get to Barcelona to enjoy the food culture!

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Morro Fi: Located in the Eixample neighborhood, this hole-in-the-wall “restaurant” is worth the walk. This place is comprised of a small space for the bartender to make drinks, approximately 4 stools for sitting inside, and a couple of patio tables outside. Although it’s off the beaten path, it’s worth the trip just to score some of their homemade vermouth. Varieties of red, white, and reserve come by the glass or bottle (take away) for cheap (about 1.50 euro per glass). Morro Fi also serves up a small assortment of tasty tapas. Everything here is made in house. What better way to try the popular local drink (vermouth) than to go to a locals-only joint that makes it themselves?

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El Nacional: Oh man. This place is awesome! It’s also located in the Eixample neighborhood, but closer to Plaza Cataluyna (and therefore the center of town). I recommend El Nacional for dinner. It’s a beautiful new building with multiple quality restaurants inside. During the day, it’s not too busy, but at night time it fills up. I recommend grabbing dinner here because the atmosphere is electric in the evening, and the many restaurants have something for everyone!

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*Photo courtesy of http://www.thespicegirlblog.com

El Xampanyet: Something that’s very important to note is that Sangria is NOT traditional at all in Barcelona. That’s a Valencia thing. Only tourists drink sugary sangria and eat paella here. It’ll give you away, so don’t do it! Instead, try drinking dark vermouth (from Morro Fi) or some local Cava. Cava is the Catalan version of Champagne. It’s light and bubbly and comes in varieties of dry and sweet. My recommendation? Head to El Xampanyet, located very close to the Picasso museum. They make their own Cava in house – and it’s pretty damn good! This is a very popular locals spot for tapas, so get here early if you want a seat. Otherwise, try to squeeze your way in and score a standing room spot at the bar. Enjoy a glass of Cava and some tasty tapas, then head on your way (El Xampanyet is located in a GREAT area for night life and tapas hopping).

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Euskal Etxea Taberna: I just love this place! It’s located right across the street from El Xampanyet and definitely deserves a stop on your tapas crawl (which I highly encourage, by the way). Euskal Etxea Taberna specializes in pinxos (“pinCHos”) which are small, open-faced sandwiches. All of those tasty little pinxos are laid out and you can help yourself – it’s all self-service. In each little sandwich is a toothpick. You are charged based on the number of toothpicks you have on your plate when you’re all done. You just need to order drinks! I recommend grabbing a local white wine here to enjoy with your pinxos!

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Cal Pep: Okay, I have to admit – I’ve never been to Cal Pep, but that’s not for a lack of trying. It seems all of my attempts were poorly planned. Cal Pep is debatably the best tapas joint in Barcelona. Although it’s a little pricier than some others, apparently it’s worth the $$ (and the wait, considering there’s usually a long line to get in)! Located just down the street from Euskal Etxea Taberna, Cal Pep specializes in fish dishes. According to multiple reviews I’ve read online, the cloisses amb pernil (clams and ham) or the trifasic (combo of calamari, whitebait, and prawns) are the house favorites!

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*photo courtesy of http://www.barcelona.com

La Boqueria Market: The madness, the beauty, the smells, the chaos, the atmosphere, the deliciousness, that IS La Boqueria Market. This massive market is located smack in the middle of Las Ramblas. It is by far the biggest and the best fresh food market in town. You can find anything and everything here, from fresh fish to snails to tapas to burritos to empanadas to wine to beer to fresh juice to coffee to chocolate to… to… to…. When I’m in Barcelona, it’s my mission to eat here at least 2 or 3 times per visit. It’s less crazy in the mornings, so I recommend checking it out shortly after it opens at 10 AM. This place is truly a foodie’s heaven.

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La Cova Fumada: You have to be “in the know” to find this place. La Cova Fumada is located in the Barcelonetta neighborhood (BEST local tapas neighborhood in the city). This inconspicuous and highly-loved-by-locals tapas joint is a hole-in-the-wall. There’s not even a sign on the door. It’s simply labeled “56” – it’s address. When you go here, expect to be the only tourists, and expect to wait to get a seat. You can approach the side kitchen door and ask one of the owners to be seated. They’ll put you on a list (they don’t speak English but hand gestures work well). You’ll likely wait about 45 minutes, but you can drink a beer out on the street while you wait (that’s what everyone else does)! Once you get in, you’ll be seated at a table with other strangers, but that’s normal here. You won’t understand the menu. But the servers/owners (family-run business) are excellent at giving recommendations. You’re in Barcelona – let the locals tell you what’s fresh and delicious! Enjoy the crazy atmosphere. Maybe make a friend or two. ENJOY!

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Maians: Maians is another locals-only tapas joint in the Barcelonetta neighborhood. It’s delicious. I’ll admit – I caved and ordered Sangria here (sooo not Catalan of me), but it was frickin’ delicious – not too sweet. We enjoyed shark bites here (hold your horses – I was unaware about the issues surrounding consumption of sharks at the time), spicy mussels, and some traditional tomato-rubbed roast to sop up all of the sauce. Of course, we also had to end with dessert. We finished our meal with a traditional Crema Catalana (like crème brule). This is a popular place, loved by locals. Come close to opening time because it fills up quickly!

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*Craft beer spots (numerous):  Okay, okay. I know this isn’t ONE spot, but I couldn’t choose. I made it my mission to (attempt to) visit every craft beer pub, bar, brewery, and restaurant in Barcelona. With a massive craft beer scene, I was only able to get to a select number. BUT, check out my TOP 10 HERE.

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Quimet y Quimet: Last, but certainly not least on the list of the BEST places to eat in Barcelona, is Quimet y Quimet. Simply put, this place is amazing. This truly phenomenal hole-in-the-wall tapas place is located in the Poble-Sec neighborhood, closest to the Paral-lel metro stop. It’s worth the venture, especially if you’re a seafood lover. Quimet y Quimet specializes in tin seafood tapas, particularly pinxos. Although the crowd is a mix of tourists and locals, it’s by far one of the best tapas joints in town. They also make their own vermouth and beer, so make sure to grab a drink with those tasty tapas!

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Well, there you have it. You now know the 10 BEST places to eat in Barcelona. Now, get out there and get eating!

Care to try your hand at whipping up some authentic traditional Catalan tapas? Check out some of these amazing recipes!

Bombas

Ceviche

Spicy Mussels

Sweet and Spicy Costillas (Ribs)

Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Omelette)

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