Learn where to find the city’s best tapas in every neighborhood, recommended by Barcelona Food Experience.
Barcelona neighborhoods (barrios) seem to have personalities of their own. And while they each take on a slightly different vibe, visitors can expect to find similar highlights in them all. Great nightlife, gorgeous architecture, rich history, unique shopping…and most importantly AMAZING food.
We’re constantly discovering great places to satisfy our pallets, even after living here for more than two years. And if there’s one thing we’ve come to realize about the restaurant scene here, its NOT to judge a book by its cover. Some of the smallest “hole in the wall” looking joints produce some of the most delicious and memorable dishes in the city!
And if you’re a tourist meandering around the highly populated areas of La Rambla and Barceloneta, you’re bound to miss them!
That’s why I was thrilled to get in touch with Maria, the creator and writer for Barcelona Food Experience who has put together this insider’s guide! Her blog articles are hailed as trusted sources by readers and as a photographer, her high res images capture dishes in all their glory! Basically, she is the go-to gal for all insider eats recommendations – starting with Barcelona’s famous tapas!
“This city is packed with tapas bars and restaurants, but it isn’t always easy to find the ones that are worthwhile. Especially in the heavily touristed areas, tapas bars can sometimes be hit-and-miss,” Maria explains.
“But when you find a good one, it quickly becomes a favorite!”
Before jumping into the list, it’s important to highlight some of the most popular must-try Spanish tapas dishes here. Otherwise, you’ll sit down at a table, stare at the menu and take a guess at ordering what you think sounds delish. And believe me, there’s been plenty of occasions when the dish from the kitchen looked a hell of a lot different than what I was expecting!
Popular Tapas Dishes in Spain
Pan con Tomate – Warm and toasted bread with tomato spread, olive oil and garlic.
Patatas Bravas – Fried potato wedges served with spicy bravas sauce and alioli made from olive oil and garlic.
Jamon – A true delicacy here in Spain, no tapas meal is complete without a plate of slivered jamon. And if it’s Iberian, even better! Usually served solo or on toasted bread slices.
Manchego con Aceite – Locally grown, dry but not bitter and with a hint of salt, Manchego cheese slices/cubes drowned in oil are the perfect accompaniment to a tapas meal.
Spanish Omelette – Different variations but the most common ones come with eggs, potatoes, olive oil and onion.
Croquettes – Breaded and fried nuggets most typically filled with potato, jamon, crab, mushroom or cheese.
Stuffed Olives – Anchovies, garlic, pimentos – you name it! Stuffed olives on the table are as common as a bread basket at an Italian restaurant.
Calamari – Not solely from Spain, but this popular fried squid is served in rings and with lemon.
Huevos Rotos – Crispy cooked ham with a warm runny egg yolk served over a bed of fried potatoes.
Octopus a Feira – From the Galacia region, octopus served boiled and chopped, seasoned with salt and paprika and drizzled with olive oil.
An Insider’s Guide to Barcelona Tapas By Neighborhood
My favorite tapas restaurant in Gótico is hidden away on a narrow side street in this otherwise bustling neighborhood. It is called La Vinateria del Call, and it is cozy, has a very authentic feel to it, and they make cheese and charcuterie boards like nobody’s business. The dishes on the menu are perfect for sharing.
On the corner of a typical Eixample building around the corner from Placa Tetuan, you’ll find the most adorable bar, with a quaint sidewalk terrace. The bar is called Betlem, and its blackboard menu is filled with delicious tapas made with seasonal local ingredients. Their wine list is excellent, too.
This is one of those highly touristic places in the city that can be hit or miss when it comes to mealtime. Barceloneta hides many very authentic tapas bars if you know where to look for them. My absolute favorite is, without a doubt, La Cova Fumada, that is so anonymous it doesn’t even have a name on the door. The bar opens its doors very early, and if you prefer not to wait, make sure to show up before noon.
Bodega La Puntual prides itself on always using high-quality, seasonal ingredients in everything they do. Their menu changes according to what is available, and the dishes are perfect for sharing. If you just want something small to snack on, take a seat by the door where you can indulge in oysters and a glass of cava, or maybe some top-notch jamón.
Vila de Gràcia
Choosing a favorite tapas bar in my favorite neighborhood is not an easy task. But one bar that very much deserves mention is Lluritu, for all those who love seafood tapas. The bar is small, so make sure to book a table in advance or just drop in for a glass of vermouth and a couple of dishes to share, but be prepared to eat standing, by the bar.
El Sortidor de la Filomena Pagès is a very charming tapas bar where not much has changed in the last 50 years or so. Come here for what might just be among the best patatas bravas in the city, and wash them down with a glass of cava or a nice, local wine.
If you’re in search of a local well-kept secret. Atlantis Gastrobar in Sant Antoni is worth a try! The bar is tiny but serves the most delicious oysters, scallops, anchovies, and more, paired with delicious sparkling wine. Because of the bar’s modest size, you’ll quickly make friends with the staff and the other guests, which adds to the charm.
Elisabets restaurant is a popular Raval outpost for many locals. The prices of the tapas here are more than fair, and you have all the classics to choose from on the menu. Make sure to try their “bombas.”
Also, just a note for tourists. If you happen to be visiting El Raval at night, please be aware of your surroundings. This is not the safest area in Barcelona and visitors are usually easy targets for theft and other seedy crimes. It isn’t uncommon to enjoy a fantastic meal there, but thought it important to share with non-locals.
Not many are familiar with Els Tres Porquets (or Three Pigs) in Poblenou, but those who visit once return again and again. The menu consists of wonderful authentic tapas dishes as well as an inventive spin on some traditional favorites. You can’t go wrong with anything you order here and my particular favorite is the carpaccio. They also boast an impressive wine list that you won’t find disappointing.
So whether you’ve just moved to Barcelona and are looking to indulge in some true Spanish dishes or are a tourist aiming for an “off the beaten path” dining experience, look no further than these recommendations. Try an amazing tapas bar NOT listed here? I’d love to know about it below!
About the Author – Barcelona Food Experience
I am Maria, and I love to eat. Twelve years ago, I abandoned my home country, Finland, and moved to Barcelona, and eventually turned my passion for food and photography from a hobby to a full-time job. I’m a Graduate in Economics Sciences and Business Studies, and I have a Master’s Degree in Food & Product Photography. I love to eat, talk, and write about food and taking photos of it.
When I’m not eating, I think about what I’ll be eating next. Or which restaurant to visit on the weekend, or maybe already tomorrow. New restaurants keep popping up every day, and I’m working my way through the good ones as fast as I can, always with a camera in hand..!
Follow Maria on Instagram at @barcelonafoodexperience or on her blog Barcelona Food Experience.