Barcelona's Best Tapas Joints for Small Portions Bursting with Taste
By Sam Mednick
Barcelona Local Expert
Barcelona's reputation for tapas precedes it and with good reason. It's a city full of delicious, innovative and mouth watering dishes, all of which can usually be served in the form of tapas (small plates of food) and shared amongst a group of friends or eaten solo. From cured hams, Manchego cheeses, spicy mushrooms, fresh salads, ‘pan con tomate’ (bread with tomato) and croquetes, whether you’re looking for upscale and trendy or the tapas equivalent to ‘greasy spoon’, Barcelona’s tapas restaurants are diverse and plentiful; you’ll l never be left wanting or without options.
The Old City (Ciutat Vella), in particular, provides for plenty of cool and rustic tapas locales, most within walking distance of each other, thus making it easy to create a fun night out, tapas and bar hopping. Between the Gothic Quarter, the Born and the Raval (all within close proximity to one another) there are several well known as well as off the beaten path places to spend an evening basking in authentic Catalan and Spanish food, which can be washed down by cava, sangria and vino.
Barcelona's tapas scene is a great way to experience all that the city has to offer both on a culinary as well as on a cultural level.
10 El Xampanyet
A Barcelona Classic, El Xampanyet is a must try, at least for a few minutes as it's often hard to stand the crowds; which are plenty and always. This small, Barcelona tapas joint serves renowned champagne, mixed drinks and fresh and eclectic tapas, in a welcoming setting. This is what tapas used to be before the gastro trend took over and the internationally infused restaurants sprung up. El Xampanyet is as authentic as a Barcelona tapas bar can get and the best part is that you can go for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It's a close walk to the beach, which is a nice way to burn off the greasy tapas. (93-319-7003)
9 La Pepita
A family owned and run, quaint tapas restaurant in the Eixample neighborhood, La Pepita has made quite a name for itself with its high quality food and understated, yet classy ambiance. The restaurant is tiny with a room at the back, which can hold around 15-20 people. Ask for 'mama Pepita'; a wealth of knowledge and quite the comedian as well. She'll make the evening that much more enjoyable, especially if you ask her to recommend f few of her favourites. The front bar is ideal for a few drinks or cocktails and tapas before venturing into the rest of the Eixample for a night on the town. (932 38 48 93)
8 Cerveceria Catalana
A Barcelona staple this tapas joint is well known to locals, expats, tourists and all those looking to experience a genuine Barcelona tapas meal. Situated in the Eixample neighborhood, Cerveceria Catalana offers high quality food at very reasonable prices. It's a great place for lunch with friends or dinner as they're open fairly late. This is also a perfect restaurant if you're looking to enjoy a meal with a lot of people. The restaurants outdoor patio is spacious, lined with long tables and a nice spot to lounge and people watch when the weather is nice. Although you'll hear plenty of English around you, it's still a local gem. (932 16 03 68)
7 Sol De Nit
It's hard to get more Catalan than Sol De Nit, located in Plaza Del Sol. This tiny restaurant has one of the best terraces, ideal for gawking at hippie Catalans, buskers, performers, runaway dogs and for sun tanning, especially during the summer. It's hard to get more local than this, as Gracia neighborhood is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the Gotico, Born and Raval neighborhoods. Sol de Nit's food is cheap and tasty and it's one of a handful of places you can sit for hours and not even notice the time pass you by - especially during the summer. (932 373 937)
6 Bar Mut
A trendy, upscale bar in the heart of the Exiample neighborhood. Bar Mut specializes in fresh, mouth watering seafood which it serves in an authentic setting atop barrels, which act as tables. They also have a variety of other delicious dishes including cheeses, meats and salads. There are few places to sit in Bar Mut, making for a very intimate setting. If you don't feel like spending an arm and a leg, go for their lunch menu which is on the less pricey side but allows you to experience high quality dishes in the middle of the day. Sit outside, if it's a nice day out - excellent for people watching. (932 17 43 38)
5 Ginger Bar
With its hanging disco ball, plush leather seats and wooden tables, many Ginger fans have coined this trendy wine and cocktail bar as an 'airport lounge'. It is however, rather known for it's innovative cocktails, wide selection of amazing wine and high quality tapas. This is a Barcelona gem, ideal for weekend adventures, intimate drinks and lively evenings on the town. Ginger is nestled behind Plaza Sant Jaume, in Plaza San Jus a little hard to find if you don't know where to look, but once you stumble upon it you'll be sure to mark the spot; if you're up for dinner after a few drinks, check out Pla restaurant which is right around the corner. (933 10 53 09)
4 Tapas 24
One of the most well known Tapas joints in the city, Tapas 24 features high quality food with a greasy flare. Their menu is diverse with a variety of Spanish, Catalan and Mediterranean options. The restaurant itself is tiny with a few outdoor tables on the patio, ideal during summer and heated in the winter. You can't make reservations and the place is always packed so it's best to go early especially on weekends. Tapas 24 has the advantage of being situated in the Eixample neighborhood, surrounded by a wide selection of great bars and clubs, all of which stay open until the sun comes up. (934 880 977)
3 Paco Meralgo
Innovative tapas in the heart of the Eixample, Paco Meralgo's minimalist decor doesn't take away from its warm atmosphere and absolutely delicious food. It's fair to say that this restaurant has some of the most unique tapas in the city, offering dishes that are hard to find in other places. Their large windows and bar stools provide for an airy feel and excellent people watching, especially during the day time. One of the city's first gastro tapas restaurants, Paco Meralgo has a mix of elegant dishes as well as homey Catalan favourites including pan con tomate and a mouth watering tortilla (Spanish omelet). (934 309 027)
Greasy, delicious tapas in Barcelona's old Fisherman village. Jai-Cai is a Barcelona staple attracting locals and tourists to its rustic, small and very unpretentious locale at the edge of the Bareloneta neighborhood. They have a few outdoor tables which usually have a long line of people waiting to snatch the next available seat. Situated in Barceloneta neighborhood, this is a great place for lunch or dinner before taking a stroll along the boardwalk and enjoying the Mediterranean. There are plenty of clubs to frequent along the water, but be sure to hit up a local bar first as the clubs don't get going until 2 or 3am. (932 683 265)
1 Elsa Y Fred
An excellent gastro tapas bar in the Old City right near Arc De Triomf at the edge of the Born neighborhood. Elsa y Fred sports an early 1920's decor and provides an elegant understated vibe. It's a great place for a morning coffee and paper, tapas lunch and delicious dinner. On Tuesday nights they have Jazz and on weekends they're always packed for brunch. They also have a wonderful new breakfast menu with 'American Style' options such as omletes and pancakes depending on the day. This is a trendy, tapas restaurant/bistro in the Born and a great place for good conversation and a fun evening out. (93 501 66 11)
About Sam Mednick
Sam’s passion for the sea and the mountains makes Barcelona the optimal living destination. She's lived in this beautiful seaside town for seven years with no plans of leaving. Sam's passion for traveling has taken her around the world including Fiji, Argentina, Lebanon, Uganda, Ghana, Israel the Philippines, and Canada. Before moving to Barcelona Sam worked in Ghana as a foreign correspondent for a Canadian NGO, as well as a the Executive Radio Producer for an internationally syndicated lifestyle show based out of New York City. In addition to freelancing Sam works as a professional Life and Executive coach. Read about Sam's coaching philosophies at: www.blueprintcoaching.ca.
Read more about Sam Mednick here.