The best of Barcelona’s Food: 25 must-try Spanish dishes
Photo: Coca Catalana
Barcelona is renowned for its vibrant culinary scene, offering a delightful array of famous Spanish foods that you simply cannot miss. The flavors, textures, and Mediterranean fusion found in Barcelona’s cuisine make it one of the most delectable in the world.
The city’s devotion to gastronomy is evident in its many internationally acclaimed chefs, including Ferran Adriá, Joan and Jordi Roca, Quim Hernández, Joan Bosch, Ada Parellada, Jordi Cruz, and more.
Continue reading to discover what food is barcelona famous for! We prepared for you a list of 25 traditional foods in Barcelona that will make your time in Spain a memorable delight!
The 26 traditional foods you must experience while in Barcelona.
Where the sea meets the mountains expect nothing less than quality and diversity. To top it off, Barcelona’s culinary heritage includes iconic dishes from all across Spain. The Catalans take pleasure in the flavors of the sea, savoring high-quality cured meats and indulging in the classic “pa amb tomaquet,” a timeless combination of bread and tomato.
However, I assure you that the Catalan version of traditional Spanish food has its own unique twist, making it absolutely addictive. I highly recommend trying every typical food in Barcelona from our comprehensive guide!
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1. Pa amb tomaquet
The classic Barcelona's food
First on the list is the iconic “pa amb tomaquet”, a deceptively simple dish that captures the essence of Catalan cuisine and it’s probably the most popular food in Barcelonas restaurants. Once you take a bite, you’ll be hooked, and it will become an indispensable accompaniment to every meal. So, what’s the secret? It all starts with coca bread, which I’ll delve into shortly. Then, a pinch of salt, freshly rubbed tomato on the bread, and a generous drizzle of olive oil completes the magical combination. For an extra kick, I personally enjoy adding garlic, but that’s entirely up to you.
2. Cocas Catalana
The stars of Catalan festivities
We can’t overlook another gem of Catalan gastronomy—the Coca. For those unfamiliar with it, it may resemble bread, empanadas, or even pizzas. Spanish people order coca as a compliment to any food in Barcelona. The base is made from a dough consisting of flour, water, salt, and yeast (or eggs, sugar, and flour for sweet variations). Toppings vary, offering a delightful array of sweet and savory combinations. One of the crowd favorites is the sweet coca enjoyed during the Night of San Juan, adorned with candied fruits and pine nuts. The versatility of the coca guarantees a culinary experience that satisfies every palate.
The quintessential Barcelona dish
And, of course, the quintessential paella cannot be absent from this compilation of typical foods of Barcelona. It is often said that the finest paellas are found in Valencia, and I must admit that I have my reservations. I have specific preferences, favoring seafood paellas that are moist, creamy, and offer a delectable crispiness from the protein ingredients.
Paella is a must try food in Barcelona without any doubts and questions.The most memorable paellas I have savored in Barcelona were at the renowned Maná 75 restaurant in La Barceloneta. However, there are other establishments in the city where you can indulge in a delicious paella. The variety of paella recipes is vast, ranging from vegetable and chicken to seafood, lobster, carabinero rice, and more. Each one deserves a taste!
Manà 75 offers an authentic and immersive experience in traditional Catalan style. Not only is it the city’s premier destination for paellas and seafood, but it’s also a cherished establishment among seasoned locals who possess a deep appreciation for their cultural heritage.
Their menu showcases almost all the dishes from our esteemed list: the iconic bomba de la Barceloneta, crispy cod fritters, tantalizing Padrón peppers, classic coca bread with tomato (pa amb tomaquet), succulent beef, and an extensive selection of paellas. For the best value, their “menu ilusión” presents a delightful array of main courses, including carabinero rice or fideuá de La Barcelona.
If you don’t want to miss out on a table, remember to make a reservation in advance, as it is a very popular place with high demand.
4. Patatas Bravas
Undoubtedly the most popular food of Barcelona
“Patatas bravas” , spicy roasted potatoes, is one of those typical Spanish dishes that should be incorporated into the world gastronomy. I can’t imagine hanging out with friends having tapas and not eating the classic patatas bravas. If I could choose the most popular food in Barcelona, it would be Patatas Bravas.
They usually taste sweet and a little bit spicy. In some bars they serve it with aioli and hot brava sauce separately and in others directly with sauces mixed in. Undoubtedly the recipe preferred by the Catalans is that of very crispy potatoes cut in big chunks, added aioli, brava sauce, and a touch of parsley along with red paprika.
Patatas Bravas is THE MOST typical and popular food in Barcelona, you can find it in any restaurant and it will be delicious. We recommend to try patatas bravas in such restaurants as “Elsa y Fred”, “Fabrica Moritz” and if you find yourself in Barcelona during the beach bar “chiringuito” season you cannot miss the bravas at “Chiringuito Escribà.
5. Andalusian style Calamari
From Andalusia to Barcelona, the king of snacking and tapas.
Andalusian style calamari or “Calamares a la Andaluza” is another, must try food in Barcelona food originated in Andalusia, as its name suggests. In Spain the well-known “bocadillo de calamares”, meaning sandwich with calamari, sounds a little crazy, but I assure you that it is worth giving it a try.
Calamari can be also found as part of the main source or can be eaten as an afternoon snack on their own. In Maná 75 you can taste a unique variation of Andalusian-style squids accompanied with Kimchi mayonnaise. It is one of the favorite starters for locals who frequent the restaurant since its flavor and quality is unparalleled in the area. I assure you, it will literally melt in your mouth.
6. Steamed mussels
A typical fresh starter of Barcelona's cuisine.
Mussels or “Mejillones al vapor” are a beloved, delicious low-cost starter and undoubtedly one of the best foods in Barcelona Spain. This Galician dish is loved and cooked throughout the whole national territory. They can be seasoned with different dressings, slices of lemon, hot sauce, white wine, etc.
Starting a family meal with a mussel casserole or a seafood casserole with mussels and clams, is a sign that the rest of the evening will be perfect. This kind of seafood is ideal to accompany a few glasses of beer or a nice glass of red wine.
Delicious and unique Barcelona foods
Catalan cold cuts, a true culinary delight, deserve an entire article dedicated to them. It’s challenging to capture the unique flavors of each one in just a few words. However, I must confess that when I first tasted fuet, it was an instant love affair. Unlike any other cold cut, it boasts an exquisite taste that isn’t overly salty, strong, spicy, or overwhelming. It simply melts in your mouth. Pair it with a slice of tomato in a coca sandwich, and you have a match made in heaven.
In Barcelona’s food scene, you can also savor other delicacies from the world of cold cuts, such as longaniza catalana, butifarra seca, butifarra blanca, butifarra negra, butifarra de huevo, butifarra de perol, and bull de hígado. Each variety offers its own unique appeal, tempting your taste buds with their distinct flavors.
8. Butifarra con mongetes
A curious dish of Barcelona food
Given the widespread consumption and diverse range of butifarra, it’s only fitting that Barcelona boasts a typical Spanish food that celebrates the excellence of this cold cut. This straightforward yet quintessential Catalan delicacy holds a special place in the kitchens of local grandmothers. The dish features grilled butifarra paired with tender cooked white beans, perfectly sautéed with garlic. Its simplicity and popularity make it a beloved culinary tradition in the region.
The specialty of Barcelona cuisine in summer
This popular Spanish dish shines brightly in the realm of typical Catalan cuisine, particularly during the summer months when our palates yearn for fresh and invigorating flavors. It showcases a delightful salad of roasted vegetables, where red peppers, tomatoes, and onions take center stage. To elevate its taste, many establishments accompany it with creamy goat cheese, adding a delectable twist. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt complete this tantalizing creation. Just the thought of it makes my mouth water!
More than a Barcelona dish, a tradition
From February to early March, my absolute favorite time of the year unfolds. It’s not because it’s the most romantically inclined month or anything of the sort, but rather because it marks the season of the beloved calçots, accompanied by their delectable romesco sauce. This culinary delight is best savored in the company of friends and family at a typical Catalan farmhouse, making for an unparalleled winter weekend experience. Barcelona boasts numerous restaurants specializing in calçots, and you can explore them here.
The dish entails scorching calçots or green onions over a wood fire until they attain a delightful texture and a hint of sweetness with a touch of smokiness. They are then meticulously wrapped in newspaper to retain their warmth. When it’s time to indulge, the charred outer layer is gently peeled away. The calçot is then dipped into a divine romesco sauce and devoured wholeheartedly, held up triumphantly by the arm.
The romesco sauce plays a pivotal role in this dish, lending it unparalleled depth and flavor. It boasts a harmonious blend of tomato, bread, hazelnuts, garlic, bell pepper, salt, vinegar, rosemary, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. The ingredients are skillfully combined until the sauce reaches a lusciously thick consistency.
11. Suquet de peix
Dish from the Mediterranean coast
This culinary delight from Barcelona beautifully showcases the city’s coastal location, with fish dishes occupying a prominent place in its gastronomic landscape. Suquet de peix, or fish stew, carries a humble origin, harkening back to a time when fishermen would prepare hearty meals directly on their boats. Today, the fish soups offered in the city have evolved, embracing innovative techniques to elevate their flavors while remaining true to their traditional essence.
This stew boasts a medley of fish varieties, harmoniously cooked alongside vegetables or tender slices of potato. An exquisite sofrito is crucial in enhancing the dish’s overall flavor profile. Notably, the fumet utilized in this stew also finds its way into paellas, another iconic Catalan delicacy we will explore later on.
Barcelona's most fun food
Among the intriguing terms of Catalan gastronomy, one that piques the curiosity of outsiders is the classic “bikini.” Rest assured, you won’t be served a grilled swimsuit or anything of the sort. Instead, it’s a delightful ham and cheese sandwich.
While it may appear as a humble dish that can be found anywhere around the globe, let me assure you that finding a truly exceptional one is no easy feat. That’s precisely why I encourage you to sample the offerings crafted in Barcelona. The secret? It lies in the butter and achieves the perfect level of toasting for each slice of bread.
La Barceloneta famous food
It would be remiss not to mention the iconic tapa of Barcelona, particularly from the neighborhood of La Barceloneta. Picture a round meatball or croquette, delicately crafted from creamy mashed potatoes and savory minced meat. Personally, my favorites are the ones with a delightful cheese filling. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing them yet, seize the opportunity during your next tapas outing at one of Barcelona’s best tapas bars.
14. Arroz Negro
A must-try food in Barcelona
Barcelona offers a myriad of delectable treats to indulge in. One such delight is arroz negro, which, although also known in the Valencian region, takes on an irresistible character in Ciudad Condal. This dish can be savored throughout most of the year. Its key components include an array of seafood such as prawns, clams, and langoustines, along with the vibrant cuttlefish ink that imparts a rich black hue to the rice. Of course, no arroz negro is complete without a flavorsome sofrito made with garlic and onion.
The taste of the sea in the most Mediterranean city, Barcelona
At first sight, fideuà may appear to be just another variation of black rice or any paella type. However, it holds its own secrets and distinct ingredients. Originating from the Valencian region, this dish has made its way along the Mediterranean coast, establishing itself as the best food to eat in Barcelona and capturing the hearts and taste buds of locals.
Similar to seafood paellas, fideuà is prepared with a seafood broth and a sofrito, enriched with the addition of thin noodles. The noodles are cooked to achieve the perfect “rossejat” consistency—a slightly charred and crispy layer that creates a delightful contrast with the broth.
16. Escudella i carn d’olla
Barcelona food for Christmas
Cocido is a renowned Spanish dish that has gained recognition worldwide. Each region and city has its own interpretation of cocido, and in Catalonia, it takes the form of Escudella i carn d’olla. This hearty stew features a flavorful beef and chicken broth infused with chickpeas, potatoes, and assorted vegetables.
After all the ingredients have been cooked to perfection, the pièce de résistance, known as “la pelota,” is introduced—a generous-sized meatball made from finely minced meat. The dish is traditionally served by first ladling the broth, accompanied by pasta galets, followed by the tender vegetables and protein components. It is a beloved winter delicacy and a cherished part of Christmas Eve celebrations.
Barcelona food after Christmas
While canelones may have originated as an Italian pasta dish, they have also become a beloved tradition in Catalonia, particularly in the province of Barcelona. These delectable treats are a customary part of holiday festivities and are especially popular on the day following Christmas. It’s a delightful way to make use of leftover meat from escudella, resulting in a truly scrumptious meal.
Following the Italian cannelloni recipe, the Catalan version of canelones features square pasta sheets that are generously filled with either minced meat or vegetables. The filled pasta rolls are then arranged in a baking dish, coated with creamy bechamel sauce, and topped with a sprinkling of cheese before being baked to perfection. The gratinated cannelloni are a true delight for the taste buds and of of the best food to eat in Barcelona.
18. Esqueixada de Bacallà
A must-try Barcelona dish
One cannot miss the opportunity to savor Esqueixada de Bacallà, another traditional Spanish food in Barcelona that holds a special place, particularly during the summer season. This refreshing salad revolves around its star ingredient, as the name suggests: raw cod. Prior to preparing the salad, the cod must undergo a desalting process for several days. Once ready, it is delicately shredded and combined with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, and a medley of your preferred vegetables. The result is a delightful harmony of flavors that captures the essence of Barcelona’s culinary traditions.
19. La Ensalada Rusa
Barcelona's food you can't miss
The French salad Olivier, also called “ensaladilla rusa”, is one of those dishes that although invented far from the Iberian Peninsula gained incredible popularity and nowadays can be found in almost any local restaurant. It is delicious during any season but especially desired in summer.
The most famous recipe makes some changes to the original one to add that delicious and unique touch of the sea and mountain flavor. Homemade mayonnaise and olive oil are mixed with the boiled potatoes, vegetables and eggs. Undoubtedly a unique delight for the palate.
Order La ensaladilla rusa as an appetizer together with Patatas Bravas, Pan de Coca y Bomba de La Barceloneta. You won’t regret the choice.
20. Pollo asado a la Catalana
Typical Sunday Barcelona food
Roast chicken is a culinary delight no matter where you are, but when it comes to roast chicken “a la Catalana,” the experience reaches new heights. This typical Barcelona food holds a special place in family gatherings on Sundays. The key lies in the quality of the ingredients, while the marinade, infused with up to 11 different spices in Catalonia, adds an irresistible burst of flavor. To savor this exquisite dish, make your way to one of the finest Catalan cuisine restaurants in Barcelona and indulge in a truly unforgettable dining experience.
21. Bocadillo de Calamares
A Delight from the City of Counts
Initially, I had my doubts about this Barcelona delicacy. I questioned whether a sandwich with a breaded filling was merely “bread with bread.” However, I decided to give it a try, and I was quickly won over. This became a weekly lunchtime favorite for me. While this sandwich is also popular in Madrid, the ones in Barcelona have a unique flair, featuring top-notch ingredients, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and a whole lot of love.
22. Fricandó de Ternera
A Tradition of Catalan Families
Fricandó holds a special place among the meat dishes cherished by Catalan families. This delectable recipe involves tender slices of beef simmered with mushrooms, known as “moixernons.” The sauce is created by reducing the meat’s flavorful juices to a luscious and creamy consistency.
23. Pimientos de Padrón
Barcelona Food for Any Time
Pimientos de Padrón is a delightful addition to Barcelona’s gastronomy, often enjoyed as a tapa or appetizer. These small, olive-green peppers pack a punch with their intense flavor, whether they’re fried or grilled. Some preparations include a sprinkle of salt flakes and a drizzle of olive oil to enhance their taste even further.
24. Mel i Mató
The Delight of Barcelona Desserts
No compilation would be comprehensive without acknowledging the essential Spanish desserts, and among them is Mel i Mató, meaning honey and cheese. It holds a special place in the hearts of locals as a dish found in every household in Catalonia. This delightful dessert features cottage cheese or exceptionally fresh cheese adorned with a generous drizzle of honey. Some Barcelonians even add nuts to elevate its flavors.
The Trusty Old Friend of Barcelona Foods
No Catalan restaurant would be complete without the timeless desert: flan. While it is a staple dish across Spain, each region has its unique rendition. In Catalonia, it is prepared with a distinct touch. The ingredients include eggs, milk, sugar, and caramel, expertly combined. After 45 minutes of cooking, the result is a velvety and moist dessert that gently jiggles on the plate. When uncertain about which dessert to indulge in, flan always serves as the reliable and comforting choice.
26. Crema Catalana
The Dessert That's Never Missing from Any Menu
Last but certainly not least, we have another iconic Catalan dish and probably the most popular dessert in Barcelona that holds a prominent position on dessert menus throughout the city: Crema Catalana. This recipe boasts a rich history spanning nearly three centuries and offers a delightful sensation to the taste buds when prepared in the traditional manner. The creamy custard base is created using egg yolks, complemented by the addition of sugar, wheat flour, whole milk, fragrant cinnamon, and the zest of either orange or lemon. When served, it is crowned with a caramelized sugar crust and elegantly presented in clay pots. Undeniably, it is a complete indulgence for the senses.
What to Drink with Traditional Foods in Barcelona?
The typical dishes of Barcelona or Catalonia should be accompanied by beverages that match their quality. As expected, Catalonia is home to some of the best vineyards in all of Spain. From the well-known wines with the Penedès designation of origin to the more exotic ones with hints of sea flavors, such as those from the Alella designation of origin.
For seafood, fish, and paellas, I recommend trying one of the most renowned local wines, Bouquet D’Alella, or the Calcari Xarel.lo white wine, which is organic and vegan. Rosé wine lovers can opt for “Rialla” and those who prefer red wine to accompany meats can choose the “Bancal” from DO Montsant.
If you want to learn more, don’t miss our article about the most charming vineyards and wineries in Barcelona.
Try the Best Barcelona Food Recipes
After discovering the mouth watering array of typical dishes in the vibrant city of Barcelona, can you resist the temptation to savor them all?
Just as you eagerly explore the magnificent Sagrada Familia, it’s time to embark on a culinary adventure and treat your taste buds to the authentic flavors of the sea and mountains found in Barcelona’s remarkable cuisine.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience a gastronomic journey that will leave you with unforgettable memories and a longing for more. The Catalan capital awaits you with its irresistible culinary delights and best Barcelona foods.
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