Barcelona is packed with an abundance of mouth-watering local specialties that make it such a hot destination for many travellers. The famed Catalonia region of Spain is comprised of four provinces – Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona – and is well known for its Catalan cooking. Prepare your stomachs and check out these twelve things to eat in Barcelona, Spain.
A Spanish bocadillo, or sandwich, is the perfect on-the-go snack. A crusty baguette-like bread – called barra de pan – is filled with a range of fillings depending on what you feel like. The soft walls of the bocadillo are spread with butter, mustard, mayonnaise and occasionally olive oil; and fillings include jamón iberico (ham), egg, cheese, tomatoes, fried green peppers and even truffle. It is best enjoyed sitting in a sunny plaza while people-watching.
While nearby Valencia is the birthplace of paella, this won’t stop you from diving into a hot paella in Barcelona. Rice is cooked in a special, flat pan, and infused with garlic, stock, white wine, tomatoes, peas and spices before being topped with a variety of protein. A seafood paella is a staple, featuring fresh shrimp, squid and mussels, but for those who are a little seafood-averse, chicken, rabbit and Spanish sausage are also options. Squeeze on some fresh lemon juice and dig in!
The most popular croquetas (or croquettes) are filled with ham, mashed potato and a creamy bechamel sauce. Coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried, croquetas are a moreish tapas. Variations can include prawn or vegetables, and can also be served as part of a larger meal in Barcelona.
4. Patatas bravas
Patatas bravas is one of Spain’s most famous tapas dishes, served in Spanish eateries around the world. These twice-fried cubes of potato are seasoned with salt and rosemary, served piping hot with aioli and bravas sauce. Bravas sauce is tomato-based with a good lick of chilli, giving your crispy potatoes a great kick of heat.
5. Jamón Iberico
It wouldn’t be a trip to Barcelona without indulging in some jamón iberico. Picture wafer-thin, salty, perfectly fatty slices of cured ham. We would recommend heading to a local market to purchase some, especially if you can find a stall that specialises in it. Pair it with Manchego cheese and some crusty bread for a tasty snack or meal.
6. Tortilla de Patatas
Also known as the Spanish version of an omelette, a tortilla de patatas is actually closer to a frittata. This hearty omelette can be found in tapas bars, but it is also a common, quick breakfast or lunch for Barcelona locals. If you can find a tortilla eatery, you’ve hit gold! It’s extremely affordable and tastes great when served hot or cold. As the name suggests, potatoes, eggs and onion form the base of the omelette; then you can choose from additions like spinach, chorizo sausage and cheese.
7. Crema Catalana
Similar to France’s crème brûlée, you will find crema catalana is a touch lighter thanks to the addition of cinnamon and lemon to the custard. We love the satisfying break of the torched sugar topping, a perfect way to round off your meal.
Ecalivada is a true Catalan dish, perfect for vegetarians. Fresh capsicums, eggplants and onion are slowly roasted on a grill, forming perfect grill lines. Doused in olive oil, thyme and basil, escalivada is served with fresh bread as a topping and to mop up all the tasty juices.
9. Pan con tomate
Considered an ingrained part of Catalan culture, pan con tomate translates to ‘tomato bread’ – a simple, yet delicious, food. Take toasted bread, rub it with garlic and fresh tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and a good quality olive oil, and enjoy! Spanish locals swear that pan con tomate should be made with the special ‘hanging’ tomato which have the perfect amount of juice, tang and flavour.
10. Padrón peppers
If you like a little spice in your life, don’t miss trying Padrón peppers. These cute green peppers are from the Padrón region in north-west Spain and have the perfect mild amount of spice. This tapas dish is grilled in the oven so that their skin blisters, adorned with a good sprinkling of salt and olive oil.
Calçots is the Catalan name for spring onions. Barcelona locals relish this unique side dish when it is in season (between late autumn and early spring)! The calçots are chargrilled until almost black on the outside leaves, which are then peeled off to expose the smoky, soft insides. The flavours complement meat and fish mains, especially when served with a romesco dipping sauce.