On our two week adventure, Barcelona was the first stop. A first time for both of us, and expectations were high! Pretty much everyone we know has been and had plenty of recommendations for tourist attractions and things to see. It didn’t disappoint. We both absolutely loved Barcelona – it was enchanting and exciting and full of food!
Throughout our time in Barcelona, we found some real gems food-wise, but definitely fell in the trap of a few average tourist places as well. But more on that later.
One amazing place you have to visit (if not just for the photo opportunity) is the food market just off La Rambla – Marcado de La Boqueria. Filled with stalls selling fresh fruit, fish, meats, crepes, vegetables and lots of other amazing fresh produce – this place is impressive!
It is best to go in the morning and on a weekday, if possible. If you do, you’re rewarded with more stalls and less people walking around. The first time we went was the middle of the day and you couldn’t really enjoy it as much because you were packed in and wary of your phone being pinched! But our visit around 9am was a lot more enjoyable.
It’s best to walk around and take it all in first, as some stalls have slightly cheaper prices and the produce quality does vary quite a lot.
We had tapas twice during our visit, one was mediocre and one was fantastic. We’ll start with the not-so-good! Taller de Tapas was recommended by our Air BnB host and usually that’s a tactic we choose when picking our restaurants abroad. Speaking to the people that actually live there and asking where they would go is usually a safe bet to get delicious, authentic food. This time it just didn’t work.
I’d say to avoid this one if you’re in Barcelona. The tapas were okay but the atmosphere was lacking and it was quite pricey. Plus, we’re never a fan of walking out of a restaurant and seeing another chain of it two streets down!
Onwards and upwards! Now this one is something special. Milk Bar and Bistro, in the Gothic quarter. We were recommended this place by a bike tour guide and it was fantastic. Super cosy vibe with deep red interior and not too many tables inside. The bar made a great variety of cocktails with combinations you might not have tried before. For tapas we had garlic prawns in wraps, olives marinated in capers with feta, and fries with garlic mayonnaise (okay… not typical tapas food but freaking delicious).
We could easily have spent all night here. If you’re out with friends it’s perfect, as it doesn’t get crazy busy and you’re able to have a proper conversation in a great setting. Check it out!
Breakfast – Pastries!
A must have. Find any pastry shop where the decor looks a bit dated, is filled with locals and preferably has a bar to lean on with an espresso. Every morning we started the day with a coffee and a pastry in a different local cafe. Europeans are just so good at bakeries it’s ridiculous.
We stayed around the Placa de Catalunya and the streets around there are filled with these. You’re spoiled for choice!
If you fancy something that isn’t tapas or paella – there are lots of places that cater to the fact that Barcelona is a large, metropolitan city. We tried Cuines de Santa Caterina, which has a variety of European, Asian, vegetarian and meat-heavy dishes. The decor was a bit random; plants up one wall and quite hipster, and then red flashing neon lights showing you the specials. Those lights made us both think of a fishmongers for some reason 😂
The service left a little to be desired and they overcharged a few items, but the food itself was delicious. I had a Thai green curry that was flavoured beautifully and Augustinas had prawn tagliatelle. Thumbs up for flavour, service needs improvement!
There are, I’m sure, a million and one places to eat paella in Barcelona. So how to choose? We got our recommendation from a fantastic local who runs the shop Home on Earth (Carrer de la Boqueria – please check this out if you’re ever in Barca. The most zen and wonderful shop I’ve ever been in). She told us that from the outside it looks like shit, and there will be no tourists, but the paella is delicious.
She wasn’t wrong.
The place is called Rías do Miño Restaurant and it’s on the beach front… sort of. Beach front via a view of the bins.
Pretty tacky and don’t expect much English from the waiters (but we did teach him how to say olive oil!)
Despite that, the paella was packed with seafood, the flavour was fantastic and the serving was very generous. Helped down with a few litres of sangria with a new Australian friend, Kara, who we met on our bike tour!
Last but not least… another bit about baked goods! This is the bakery in Hotel Praktik (Carrer de la Provenca) and we stumbled across it when walking to Park Guell. If you happen to be around that part of Barcelona, or you just really love breads and pastries (obvs, who doesn’t) it is definitely worth going out of your way.
We found this place on our last day and it made me even more sad to leave! The decor is extremely stylish, there is a huge counter of produce to choose from and whilst you’re sitting and eating you can see right into the bakery itself and watch them work. Everyone seemed to have a role and I loved that feeling of being right in the middle of the baking. Just such a great find!
We had one savoury and one sweet each. The savoury won! Mine was ham and tomatoes baked in such a flaky crispy pastry, ohhhhh it was so good.
I know this is a longer post than usual, but we did manage to eat a lot of good food during our 4 and a bit days in Barcelona! Hopefully if you’re planning a trip this will help. I would say our best tips are:
- Spoil yourself on pastries. Their bakeries are out of this world.
- Trust the locals (well… most of them) to give you food recommendations
- A bike tour is a great way to tick off the main attractions but not waste loads of time traipsing around the city. Also a great way to make new friends!
- Go for the not-so-pretty places. Cheaper, better atmosphere, tastier food.
Hope you enjoyed!