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Tips for Eating in Barcelona – What To Eat And What You Should Not Eat in Barcelona

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We will write a full guide on tips for eating in Barcelona. What to eat and what you shouldn’t eat in Barcelona.

Barcelona, a gem on the Mediterranean coast, is renowned for its vibrant food scene, which beautifully merges Catalan culinary traditions with modern gastronomy.

Here’s a guide on what to eat and what to avoid in Barcelona, ensuring a memorable and authentic dining experience.

Read here 4 Days Barcelona Itinerary and Sim Card Barcelona Airport

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Tips For Eating in Barcelona – What to Eat in Barcelona

From all the list of what to eat and drink in Barcelona you should try all of these:

Tapas

Tips for Eating in Barcelona - What To Eat And What You Should Not Eat in Barcelona

Barcelona is famous for its tapas, which are small dishes meant to be shared. Notable tapas to try include patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), pimientos de padrón (fried green peppers), and bombas (meat-stuffed potato balls).

Paella

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While more traditional in Valencia, Barcelona offers its coastal version, often loaded with seafood. Always look for restaurants that make it fresh to order.

Read here how to make Paella

Seafood

Given its coastal location, Barcelona’s seafood is fresh and abundant. Try dishes like suquet de peix (fish stew) and esqueixada (salt cod salad).

Local Cheeses and Cured Meat

Sample local Catalan cheeses like mató and cured meats such as fuet and jamón ibérico.

Cava

Catalonia is the birthplace of Cava, the Spanish sparkling wine. It’s a must-try when in Barcelona.

Crema Catalana

Tips for Eating in Barcelona - What To Eat And What You Should Not Eat in Barcelona

Similar to French crème brûlée, this creamy dessert is a perfect finish to a meal.

Meal Times

Remember that Spaniards typically eat later than other Europeans. Lunch is usually between 2-4 pm, and dinner around 9-11 pm.

Menu del Día

Look for restaurants offering a Menu del Día during lunch. It’s a set meal that usually includes a starter, main course, dessert, and a drink, offering good value.

Tap Water

It’s safe to drink tap water in Barcelona, so you can avoid buying bottled water.

Tipping

Tipping is not mandatory in Spain, but it is customary to leave a small tip if you enjoyed the service. Rounding up the bill or leaving 5-10% is appreciated.

What to Avoid in Barcelona

Tourist-Trap Restaurants

Tips for Eating in Barcelona - What To Eat And What You Should Not Eat in Barcelona

Especially around La Rambla and other tourist-heavy areas. These places often offer subpar food at inflated prices. Always look for eateries where locals are dining.

Paella at Odd Hours

Authentic paella is typically a lunch dish and requires proper preparation time. Avoid places that serve paella late in the evening or from a buffet, as it’s likely reheated and not fresh.

Why to Avoid: Paella that is pre-made and displayed for hours can be a common sight in tourist-heavy areas. This is generally not fresh and can be disappointing in terms of flavor and quality.

What to Do Instead: Opt for restaurants that cook paella to order, even though it may require a wait of 30 minutes or more. True paella is cooked fresh and worth the wait.

Sangria in Touristy Places

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While sangria is a popular drink for tourists, locals more commonly drink wine, cava, or vermouth. If you opt for sangria, try to find a restaurant that prepares it freshly, rather than from large pre-made containers.

Why to Avoid: Sangria is often marketed to tourists, and while tasty, it’s not typically a drink of choice for locals.

What to Do Instead: Try other popular local beverages such as vermouth, cava (Catalan sparkling wine), or even craft beers from local breweries.

Fast Food and International Chains

To truly experience Catalan cuisine, skip the global fast-food chains and seek out local food. Barcelona is home to an array of gastronomic delights that you won’t find elsewhere.

Why to Avoid: While convenient, these places offer little in terms of authentic Catalan or Spanish cuisine.

What to Do Instead: Take the opportunity to explore Spanish and Catalan dishes. Even quick bites like a sandwich from a local carnisseria (butcher shop) can be a delicious and authentic option.

Avoid Eating Close to Major Tourist Attractions

Why to Avoid: Restaurants and eateries near major tourist spots like Las Ramblas, Plaça Catalunya, and around Sagrada Familia often cater primarily to tourists. They might offer menus that lack authenticity and are overpriced.

What to Do Instead: Venture into neighborhoods such as Gràcia, El Born, or even parts of the Eixample, where locals dine. You’ll likely find more authentic dishes and a better dining atmosphere.

Skip Generic Frozen Seafood Dishes

Why to Avoid: Barcelona is on the coast, but that doesn’t guarantee that all seafood served is fresh. Frozen seafood in paellas or seafood dishes in less reputable restaurants can be subpar.

What to Do Instead: Look for signs of fresh seafood, such as daily specials, or eat at reputable seafood restaurants where fresh catch is a part of their offering.

Avoid Touristy Flamenco Dinner Shows

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Why to Avoid: While flamenco is an iconic Spanish art form, many of the dinner shows in Barcelona are designed for tourists and can be expensive and inauthentic.

What to Do Instead: If you’re interested in flamenco, find a dedicated flamenco bar or theatre for an authentic experience, and eat separately at a recommended restaurant.

Steer Clear of Overpriced Tapas Bars

Tips for Eating in Barcelona - What To Eat And What You Should Not Eat in Barcelona

Why to Avoid: Some tapas bars, especially in tourist areas, charge high prices for small, mediocre plates.

What to Do Instead: Do some research or ask locals for recommendations to find authentic tapas bars. Tapas are meant to be a fun and shared experience, so look for places with a lively local crowd.

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