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What to Eat in Barcelona

If you’re heading to Barcelona soon, prepare to be amazed by the city’s culinary delights. From the tasty “coca de llardons” to the sweet “crema catalana,” hearty “butifarra,” and savory “bacallà,” Catalan cuisine is full of delightful dishes worth trying. Barcelona, undoubtedly one of the best cities for gastronomic indulgence, offers an array of local specialties.

15x Must-Try Specialties

Here are fifteen dishes you must try in Barcelona and the best places to taste them. Note: All dish names are given in Catalan, with Spanish translations in brackets where necessary.

1. Pa amb tomàquet (Pan con tomate)

One of the most famous and popular dishes from Catalonia is “pa amb tomàquet,” also known as “pan catalan.” This simple way of preparing bread, with rubbed tomato, olive oil, and a pinch of salt, can be found as an appetizer or side dish in many bars and restaurants in Barcelona. Even “bocadillo” or “entrepà” (baguette with fillings) are often rubbed with tomato!

The traditional pa amb tomàquet is made with a slice of “pa de pagès” bread and a well-ripened tomato. It can be eaten on its own or with other local cheeses and cold cuts.

For the tastiest tomato-rubbed bread, head to one of the El Fornet d’en Rossend branches in Barcelona or order a pa amb tomàquet at tapas bar El Viti, where they use a crispy and thin slice of bread called “pa de coca” for their pa amb tomàquet.

Pa amb tomàquet
Pa amb tomàquet

2. Coca

If you’re in the mood for a snack, the Catalan flatbread, “coca,” is a great option. This dish, which comes in both sweet and savory varieties, is mainly made and sold by bakeries. Catalans’ fondness for their coca is evident in the many different preparations they have created for this dish.

Some of the most popular are “coca de recapte,” made with various roasted vegetables and sometimes tuna and anchovies, “coca de llardons,” made with pork cracklings (llardons), and “coca de vidre,” a sweet pastry with pine nuts.

Freshly made coques (sweet or savory) are available at most bakeries in the city. Get your coca at Forn Mistral and enjoy it in the hidden gardens near the nearby University building.

3. Esqueixada

Salted cod, or “bacallà,” is a typical product from Barcelona that originated out of necessity. Covering the fish with salt significantly extended its shelf life, which was very valuable in the past. Plus, the salt added a lot of flavor to the fish. That’s why “bacallaneries” (shops specializing in selling salted cod) still exist.

Salted cod can be prepared in various ways. One of the most famous in Catalan cuisine is “esqueixada.” In this dish, raw cod is seasoned with olive oil, vinegar, and salt, and served with tomatoes, onions, and olives as a salad or tapa.

To experience esqueixada yourself, head to tapas bars in Barceloneta, such as Bar Electricitat and La Cova Fumada, or dine at a Catalan restaurant like Can Cargol.

Esqueixada - Specialiteiten Barcelona
Esqueixada

4. Escalivada

Another well-known salad from the Catalan cuisine is “escalivada.” It’s made with roasted vegetables like bell peppers, eggplant, tomato, and onion. Escalivada can also be served on a slice of toasted “pa de pagès” bread and topped with anchovies.

You can enjoy a delicious escalivada at Can Cargol.

5. Arròs negre (Arroz negro)

One of the most intriguing dishes you can find on menus in Barcelona is “arròs negre,” or black rice.

This rice dish, similar to the famous paella, is black instead of yellow or white because it includes the black ink of a squid. It’s also accompanied by pieces of squid, onion, red pepper, tomatoes, and garlic.

For a proper introduction to arròs negre, head to the seafood restaurants on the beach, such as Xiringuito Escribà.

6. Fideuà (Fieduá)

Fideuà is a popular dish in Barcelona, although it originally comes from the Valencia region. This variation of paella is made with vermicelli pasta instead of rice and is often served with aioli sauce (garlic mayonnaise).

Fideuàs, like paellas, can contain vegetables, fish, or meat. A version very typical for the Catalan kitchen is the ‘mar i muntanya,’ which includes both fish and meat.

For the best fideuà, visit the restaurants in La Barceloneta such as Can Solé.

Fideuá at Ca la Nuri Platja
Fideuá at Ca la Nuri Platja

7. Graellada de peix i marisc (Parrillada de pescado y marisco)

Fish is an essential part of the Mediterranean diet. Therefore, it’s not surprising that you can find an abundance of fish dishes in Barcelona! For seafood lovers, graellada de peix i marisc is a must-try. This dish is a platter of various grilled fish and shellfish like prawns, scampi, mussels, razor clams, cockles, and crayfish. Just a splash of lemon juice and enjoy!

Some of the best places to taste this dish are inside the famous market hall of La Boqueria at Kiosko Universal, at one of the La Paradeta branches, and on the beach at Xiringuito Escribà.

8. Escudella i carn d’olla (Escudella y carne de olla)

Especially in the winter months, it’s well worth ordering an escudella i carn d’olla. This warm and hearty dish is nothing but a soup with various vegetables and pieces of meat. The most characteristic component of this soup is the ‘pilota,’ a very large and elongated meatball.

Order a typical Catalan escudella at Can Cargol.

Escudella i carn d'olla - Specialiteiten Barcelona
Escudella i carn d’olla

9. Butifarra amb mongetes (Botifarra catalana)

Another typical dish of Catalan cuisine is “butifarra amb mongetes” or “botifarra a la catalana.” This dish features a tasty grilled sausage served with white beans, usually of the ‘ganxet‘ variety. It’s not a light dish, but it’s definitely flavorful!

To try this traditional dish, head to Can Culleretes.

10. Canelons (Canelones)

Canelons” is one of my favorite dishes. These are filled cannelloni topped with béchamel sauce and cheese, baked in the oven. The filling is usually meat, but other versions like spinach with cheese also exist.

Catalan children love this, so it’s a great alternative when you’re traveling with kids. Try the Catalan canelons at Can Culleretes or 7 Portes.

11. Fricandó

Fricandó is a Catalan autumn stew where thin veal fillets are cooked with olive oil, dry white wine, flour, salt, pepper, herbs like bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and water into a delightful dish. Another important ingredient in fricandó are the mushrooms, often of the ‘moixerons‘ variety.

The combination of tender meat, mushrooms, and rich savory onion and tomato sauce is finished with a typical Catalan touch: a ‘picada’ of garlic and almonds that thickens the sauce and gives it a deeper flavor.

Try the fricandó at Els 4 Gats and Petit Comitè.

12. Pollastre a l’ast (Pollo a l’ast)

For a traditional Sunday family lunch, roasted chicken, “pollo a l’ast” or “pollastre rostit,” is a staple. Barcelonans get their “pollastre” from the local poultry shop (‘pollería’), where the chickens are slowly roasted on a spit. Their irresistible aroma draws customers to the shops, often forming long queues.

But chicken can be prepared in thousands of other ways. For example, many restaurant menus also feature ‘pollastre amb xamfaina.’ In this dish, chicken is served with xanfaina, a kind of vegetable dish made of onions, eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and garlic, typical of the Catalan regions.

For a tasty grilled chicken, head to Can Culleretes.

13. Calçots

Calçots are a local variety of mild onion, and they are a seasonal dish eaten during ‘calçotades‘ (between January and April). These are convivial gatherings with friends and families around a long table where calçots are grilled.

Eating calçots is done in a unique way: holding the calçot high and trying to eat it in one go.

Calçots are always dipped in romesco sauce. This sauce, made from ‘ñoras’ (a cross between red bell peppers and Spanish chili), is a spicy Catalan sauce that pairs very well with calçots.

For a unique experience among the locals, have calçots at Masia Can Sardà in the Collserola mountains. Other places in the city where you can also eat calçots include Casa Pamplinas and Can Cargol.

Calçots - Typisch uit Catalonië
Calçots

14. Mel i Mató

Mató is a type of Catalan fresh cheese made from rennet grass, often enjoyed as a dessert combined with honey (mel). Known as mel i mató, this dish was a popular dessert back in the Middle Ages.

Today, you can still order it as a dessert at various restaurants like Can Cargol or as a delightful snack at a granja such as M. Viader.

15. Crema Catalana

Probably one of the most famous desserts from the Catalan cuisine is the crema catalana. This Catalan version of crème brûlée is a dessert you can find at almost every restaurant.

One of the secrets to the popularity of crema catalana is the use of cornstarch for thickening, instead of cream as in the French version.

Its soft flavor of cinnamon and lemon, the contrast between the cold and creamy custard with the crunchy caramelized sugar on top, make it a beloved dish.

Try the crema catalana at the modernist shop of Escribà on the Ramblas or order it as a dessert at a restaurant like 7 Portes.

Crema Catalana - Specialiteiten Barcelona
Crema Catalana

Addresses List for Barcelona Specialties

  • 7 Portes (Passeig d’Isabel II, 14)
  • Bar Electricitat (Carrer de Sant Carles, 15)
  • Can Cargol (Carrer Valencia, 324)
  • Can Culleretes (Carrer d’en Quintana, 5)
  • Can Solé (Carrer de Sant Carles, 4)
  • Casa Pamplinas (Carrer de Londres, 84)
  • Els 4 Gats (Carrer de Montsió, 3)
  • El Fornet d’en Rossend (Carrer del Rosselló, 228)
  • El Viti (Passeig de Sant Joan, 62)
  • Escribà (La Rambla, 83)
  • Forn Mistral (Ronda de Sant Antoni, 96)
  • Granja M. Viader (Carrer d’en Xuclà, 4-6)
  • Masia Can Sardà (Carretera de Horta BV-1415, KM 4, 08290 Cerdanyola del Vallès)
  • Kiosko Universal (Carrer la Rambla, 91)
  • La Cova Fumada (Carrer del Baluart, 56)
  • La Paradeta (Passatge de Simó, 18)
  • Petit Comitè (Passatge de la Concepció, 13)
  • Xiringuito Escribà (Av. del Litoral, 62)

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Photo of author
Hello! My name is Marta, and I am a born and raised Barcelonian. I love introducing people to Barcelona, especially the Barcelona known to locals. In Barcelona, I am always looking for fun places and tips that I can then share with you, with the goal of helping you experience Barcelona like a local.

Marta Rubio

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