Are you heading to Barcelona sometime soon and can’t wait to eat all the delicious food, but don’t know where to even begin? Don’t you worry! Here we will tell you all about what to eat in Barcelona, the dishes you must try, and the drinks you should sip.
Barcelona is well known for its cultural contributions; the incredible architecture, the many museums, its world-renowned art, there is just so much beauty to admire. However, another aspect that is also well worth exploring, is the food scene in Barcelona.
In this post, I will share with you some of my favorite unique things to eat in Barcelona; including breakfast options, lunch, dinner, snacks, and everything else in between.
There are so many tapas to try and many delicious meals to be had, so let’s get to it!
What To Eat In Barcelona: 15+ Unique Foods To Try
This one caught my attention when walking early in the morning looking for something quick to eat, and I kept seeing “bikini combos” everywhere, so, intrigued, I asked the nice man behind the bar what this meant.
It turns out that bikini is what Barcelonians call a hot ham and cheese sandwich with white toast bread that tends to be enjoyed as a breakfast meal, and most cafés will offer a super affordable combo of some sort that normally includes a bikini, a coffee, and orange juice.
So if you are wondering what to eat in Barcelona for breakfast, this is your answer!
I had mine at Old School Bakery and Cafe for only 4.50€
Jamón ibérico sandwiches take over the displays at bakeries all around the city, and are definitely a top food in Barcelona that you need to try!
It doesn’t look like much, I will admit that, but the beauty of Barcelona foods is the simplicity and the quality of the ingredients, and the jamón ibérico sandwich is no exception.
The ibérico sandwich, or bocadillo, consists of a thin baguette normally rubbed with tomato, drizzled with olive oil, and filled with glistening jamón ibérico. It’s simple, yet absolutely delicious! And also, quite affordable, you can find these beauties around Barcelona for just 2.50€, definitely a must-try food in Barcelona!
Anchovy stuffed olives
The Barcelona food scene consists of a lot of seafood, so much so that it even infiltrated their olives, and I’m not mad about it.
Anchovies are a favorite food in Barcelona, that’s why you will be able to find them on almost every menu you come across, and if you look close enough, you can normally also find anchovy stuffed olives, which sounded too out of my comfort zone at first, but honestly, they are life-changing!
The anchovy adds an extra punch of flavor to already flavorful olives, and even though that could sound like a lot, I highly recommend you try this food in Barcelona. They go nicely with a bubbly glass of cava or a refreshing glass of vermouth.
Another one of my absolute favorite things to eat in Barcelona is croquetas.
Croquetas are these fried small pockets of goodness; crunchy on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside, and they can be made out of many different flavor combinations. The most popular ones have a jamón ibérico filling and are a must-try food in Barcelona, but you can also find garlicky shrimp croquetas, 4 cheese croquetas, chicken croquetas, and even dessert croquetas, such as goat cheese with caramelized walnuts.
At only about 1.50€ each, you can easily try all the flavors you want.
Tortilla de patatas
I have to admit that I used to be a tortilla de patatas hater, and I would make my Spanish friends angry by calling it a potato omelet cake—which to be fair, it is—but, I have also learned to appreciate it for what it is, and when done right, a tortilla de patatas can truly be a culinary experience.
So, what is a tortilla de patatas? Tortilla de patatas consists of onion, sliced potatoes, eggs, and lots of good quality olive oil cooked into a sort of cake, that is then served as a slice, drizzled with more olive oil, and accompanied by crunchy pan con tomate.
For someone like me, tortilla de patatas looks like breakfast—because of the eggs—but in Catalunya, it is indeed a lunch meal, and sometimes we even ordered it for dinner to share.
I know it sounds simple, but it is such a Spanish staple and definitely one of the Barcelona foods you must try!
Patatas bravas is a bar staple in Barcelona, they are the perfect snack to share with friends over a drink on a Friday night—or any day for that matter.
Patatas bravas consist of big cubed potatoes that can be baked or fried, and what makes it bravas is the addition of a spicy sauce that is slathered on top. This sauce is what makes patatas bravas so different from place to place since each restaurant gets creative with its own recipe, and while it’s meant to be spicy, I found most of them to be fairly mild.
This simple and delicious dish is originally from Madrid but it is also incredibly popular in the Catalunyan capital, so make sure to add it to your list of food in Barcelona to eat.
Gambas al ajillo
You will come across this dish numerous times while navigating Barcelona’s menus; gambas al ajillo.
Gambas al ajillo means shrimp a la garlic, or shrimp cooked in a garlicky buttery sauce that is served as a tapa, a small dish that can be shared, or not, in my opinion, they are too good to be shared.
If you want to explore the seafood element of the Barcelona food scene but you don’t feel adventurous enough to go for the squid or mussels, this is a great dish to try!
I was very surprised to see the love that Barcelona has for artichokes, or alcachofas, I kept seeing so many different variations of this distinctive-looking vegetable throughout the Barcelona food scene; I had them cold with tomato puree, I had them warm with jamón ibérico and alioli (one of my favorite meals of the whole trip), I saw them served on bread, the options are endless.
Each restaurant has its own unique way of preparing them, whether it is as a whole dish, or as a small montadito, preparing artichokes seems to be an art form in this city, which is why I consider them a top food in Barcelona you need to try.
I feel like this is a given, but is still worth explaining. A lot of us have grown up eating some jamón Serrano here and there and we think we know Spanish cold cuts, however, jamón Serrano is completely different from Jamón Ibérico, and the latter is the real deal.
Jamón Serrano is made out of a kind of pig that can be found around the world, whereas Jamón Ibérico is made only from Iberic pigs, unique to the region, which follow a specific diet that influences the flavor of the ham.
Jamón ibérico has a dark red glistening color and a distinctively delicious taste that once you try the real stuff you can never go back, that’s why it’s an absolute must-eat food in Barcelona!
To fully enjoy the flavor make sure to order a tabla de jamón ibérico at least once, or a jamón ibérico board, to share with friends over a nice glass of red Spanish wine.
Pan con tomate
Pan con tomate—literally bread with tomato—is another dish I thought sounded utterly boring until I tried it, in theory, it does sound quite boring, but is such a delight when done right.
Every restaurant, every family, and every Spaniard has a different unique way of preparing their pan con tomate, but the general preparation includes some sort of bread that is lightly toasted and then rubbed with a very mature kind of Spanish tomato, (some people also rub garlic on the bread) and is seasoned with salt and high-quality olive oil.
It truly is such a simple thing, but the key lies in the quality of the ingredients.
You will normally find this served in restaurants to accompany anchovies, tortilla de patatas, or basically any meal. It’s such a refreshing light snack, and one of those Barcelona dishes you need to try to understand the beauty of its simplicity!
Barcelona is the dream destination for seafood lovers, so it would honestly be rude not to indulge in a few oysters.
You will be able to find oysters offered in different restaurants and markets throughout the city, such as at the famous Mercado de la Boqueria, they are not remarkably cheap here compared to other places in the world, but they are remarkably fresh.
I noticed that in Barcelona they like to keep their oysters simple, no fancy vinaigrettes, just a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon and bottoms up—and honestly, the oysters didn’t need anything else.
You can check my absolute favorite place for oysters on my where to eat in Barcelona post.
Banderillas (anchovies or gambas)
Banderillas is something you will come across a lot, especially in bars, banderillas basically means skewers, a small snack that consists of ingredients assembled together with a wooden stick.
There are different kinds of banderillas, the banderilla guilda is a common one that consists of anchovies, olives, and a kind of small pepper, but you can also find other varieties like the one I had here which is prepared with sundried tomatoes, olives, and shrimp.
Banderillas are a must-try snack food in Barcelona that goes great with any drink!
Barcelona is such a foodie city, and you would not be doing it justice by sticking to what you know; there are so many varieties of tapas, montaditos, and unique dishes waiting to be discovered.
Some of my favorite things I ate in Barcelona resulted from me ordering something completely out of my comfort zone and then absolutely loving it, like anchovies, which also resulted in me becoming obsessed with anchovy stuffed olives.
So I would highly recommend you also step outside of your food comfort zone every once in a while and order something new, there are so many amazing Barcelona foods to try it would be rude not to give them a chance!
When in doubt you can always ask a friendly waiter to give you a recommendation.
Now moving on to something sweet; crema Catalana.
Crema Catalana is like the distant cousin of the French crème brûlée, they are both desserts prepared with eggs, milk and sugar, and the finished product is a soft cream covered by a hard crunchy sugary layer, the only difference between them is the method of preparation; crema Catalana is cooked, while its French cousin is baked, but both are incredibly delicious!
Crema Catalana, as the name suggests, is original from Catalunya, therefore a must-try food in Barcelona.
Fresh orange juice
Oh, fresh Spanish orange juice! As someone who lived in Germany for a while, where the only thing that grows is potatoes and apples, I cannot explain how exciting it is to go to Spain and enjoy all their fresh produce.
The beautiful thing about sunny Spanish weather, besides being perfect beach weather nearly every day, is that it allows for lots of fruits and vegetables to grow throughout the year, which is why their cuisine is so colorful and varied and also why fresh juices in Spain are just something else!
You can find freshly squeezed orange juice in most bakeries and cafés and it is an absolute must whenever I’m in Spain, its just such a sweet refreshing way to start the day and add that vitamin C, and for a fraction of the price that it would be somewhere else.
If there would be one thing, and one thing only, that I would recommend you to try over everything else on this list it would have to be vermouth—but still try everything else on this list though.
Vermouth is an alcoholic beverage that combines wine with a variety of herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, and spices; is the perfect combination between sweet and bitter, and its flavor will vary depending on the brand and their preparation method, but if you find the right one for you it will be life-changing!
Vermouth is served on ice and is normally accompanied by an orange slice and an olive as a garnish. You can enjoy this drink with a meal, or just on its own at a bar with friends and a bowl of olives.
I tried this during my first night in Barcelona at an amazing vermuteria called Las Vermudas (you can read more about it in my where to eat in Barcelona post) and I became obsessed! So I would highly insist on this as an absolute must-try while in Barcelona!
Another delicious local drink that we cannot forget about is the fabulous and bubbly Spanish cava.
Cava is a protected denomination of origin product of the south of Spain, some people mistake it for “cheap champagne” but in reality, it is its own entity of high-quality bubbly wine, and is absolutely delicious! And it is also more affordable than champagne, but you are not compromising on anything here.
Cava can be white or rosé, and you can find a variety of stunning historic bars serving exquisite cava all throughout the city, like this one in El Born.
Hope you enjoyed and found this guide to must-try food in Barcelona useful, please let me know if you end up trying any of my suggestions and which one ends up being your favorite, I would love to hear it!
Save this list for later!
It will come in handy.