Barcelona's Tastiest and Trendiest Tapas in the Heart of the Downtown Core

Although Barcelona has a wide range of tapas bars and restaurants throughout the city, the downtown area is home to some of the most renowned 'small plate' establishments. Due to the eclectic vibe of 'Ciutat Vella' (Old City), most tapas bars are informal, small and always bustling. Whether you're looking for greasy or gastro tapas, there are some truly excellent places to check out.

Barcelona's downtown core is fairly spread out amongst the various neighborhoods. Between the Raval, Gothic Quarter, Born and Barceloneta, you'll never run out of options. If you're a foodie and want to sample Ferran Adria style cuisine (on a much different scale), then try gastro tapas at some of the restaurants where they serve typical Spanish and Catalan dishes with an elegant, Mediterranean twist. Some new Gastro tapas places include Elsa y Fred and the Restaurant Ohla (in the hotel).

If you'd rather experience 'under the counter' tapas - meaning greasy and often scary looking, but absolutely delicious -then El Xampanyeria is one of the best places. It's not only for the free tapas (if you buy a drink), but this place embodies the genuine Barcelona tapas experience and is the perfect way to get a feel for the REAL local tapas scene in the city. 


Old Town
El Salón

The antique decor that adorns El Sal�n is simply charming, and the menu is equally impressive. It is based on a Catalan traditional menu, but it is colored with French influence. Dishes you should try include the seared tuna, lamb and aubergine tart with goat's cheese and pesto. El Salon is one of few Barcelona restaurants that has no problem adjusting the menu for specific clients. If you're a vegetarian, or allergic to certain ingredients, they'll make you a special plate that's not on the menu at no extra charge. The owners pride themselves on customer service and its evident in the quality of the food and their attention to detail.

Recommended for Downtown Barcelona's Best Tapas because: El Salon has a unique and mouth watering mix of Spanish and Mediterranean Tapas

Sam's expert tip: One of the only outdoor patios you can reserve in the summer

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Wine and tapas bar in the center of the Gothic Quarter, Jet Lag is a welcome new addition to Barcelona's bar scene. Nestled behind Plaza Sant Jus, just up from Jaume Metro station, Jet Lag serves a range of amazing, international wines including those from France, Argentina, Italy and Chile. They also have great cheese plates and tasty bread as well as an extensive menu including salads meats, fish dishes and a variety of other options. Although Jet Lag isn't large, it's always full and never feels crowded. The owners are delightful and eager to make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible.

Recommended for Downtown Barcelona's Best Tapas because: Jet Lag serves great glasses of wine along with authentic spanish tapas with an Italian flare

Sam's expert tip: Every Thursday get free tapas when you buy a drink.

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Comerc 24

This Michelin star restaurant boasts the best of both worlds; an eclectic tapas bar with the service of an elegant restaurant. Avant-Garde with a modern decor, Comerc 24 has been hailed as a Barcelona 'must-try' from foodies worldwide. Renowned chef, Carles Abellan's reputation precedes him and his talents shine through his innovative and delicious dishes. Located in the trendy Born neighborhood once you've stuffed yourself with gourmet goodness, head to a bar on Passeig Del Born for a night-cap or if you feel like dancing go to Mix bar and club, which stays open until 4am and is just down the street from the restaurant.

Recommended for Downtown Barcelona's Best Tapas because: Comerc 24 is one of the best tapas restaurants in the downtown core

Sam's expert tip: Book well in advance the restaurant is always packed. Even if the restaurant is full you can often ask to be seated at the bar which has the exact same menu.

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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.

Recommended for Downtown Barcelona's Best Tapas because: Ginger has high quality tapas in the heart of the Gothic Quarter

Sam's expert tip: Try their tuna tartar and duck tapas dishes as well as the Gordito wine.

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Bright, airy and absolutely delicious, this is a Barcelona gem. Tucked away in Barceloneta, only a three-minute walk from the water, Segons Mercat prides itself on serving high quality tapas, especially when it comes to their fish and seafood. There are two locations in the city, one in the Old City and the other on Gran Via in the Eixample district. This is a great place if you want to experience local tapas with a gourmet twist. Edu and Billy are the owners and they're both lovely, personable and eager to please. Be sure to get their cava sangria, it's delicious.

Recommended for Downtown Barcelona's Best Tapas because: Segons Mercat is an off the beaten path tapas gem in the Barceloneta neighborhood.

Sam's expert tip: Order the asparagus with goat's cheese and the 'ternera' (beef).

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Set Del Born

Set Del Born is a small off the beaten path tapas joint in the Old City that serves authentic Catalan dishes. This is a cozy locale great for long lunches or a fun tapas night out with a group of friends, right off Passeig Del Born. Their plates are reasonably sized and perfect for sharing. Lined with small wooden tables, this two storey tapas joint prides itself on catering to locals and tourists 'in the know'. It's hard to find if you don't know where to look, so you can be sure that English won't be the primary language surrounding you.

Recommended for Downtown Barcelona's Best Tapas because: Set Del Born is a Barcelona tapas staple in the downtown core. It's small and rustic.

Sam's expert tip: Try their Jamon Serrano and Manchego Cheese plate

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Excellent for tapas, wine or a cup of coffee, Re-Pla may be the more economical version of its well known sister restaurant, Pla, but it's tapas are just as delicious and the portions fairly large (for Spanish standards). This is a lively, hip restaurant in the Born neighborhood, great for cozying up on a rainy day or having a few drinks after work or on the weekend. This is one of few tapas restaurants open Sundays as well as Monday's and you can either eat at the bar or at one of the tables in the main room or at the back.

Recommended for Downtown Barcelona's Best Tapas because: Re-Pla boasts a mix of gastro tapas with a greasy spoon flare

Sam's expert tip: Try their squid ink croquette

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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.

Recommended for Downtown Barcelona's Best Tapas because: El Xampanyet is the downtown area's most notable and authentic tapas restaurant

Sam's expert tip: Try their anchovies, olives and mushroom dishes

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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. This is an excellent place for a tapas dinner, morning coffee or afternoon copa of cava with friends. It's relaxed and comfortable atmosphere is perfect for taking the edge, especially on the weekends - and any other night of the week.

Recommended for Downtown Barcelona's Best Tapas because: Elsa y Fred is the newest and trendiest gastro tapas bar to hit downtown Barcelona

Sam's expert tip: Be sure to reserve in advance on Tuesdays and on the weekends

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If you're looking for tasty seafood, exceptional paella and a host of options including vegan dishes, Barraca is the optimal choice. Overlooking the beach, floor to ceiling windows line the upper floor of this restaurant, providing for gorgeous views, especially if you get to sit near the window. The food is delicious, with a particular focus on their fish and paella dishes. The staff are quick to accommodate and willing to adapt for dietary restrictions. It's also one of the only restaurants with a strictly vegan paella, which is mouth watering. Barraca is the perfect restaurant for a great lunch on the beach.

Recommended for Downtown Barcelona's Best Tapas because: A fabulous seafood restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean and the Boardwalk

Sam's expert tip: Be sure to reserve in advance, especially on the weekends as it fills up extremely quickly

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Meet Sam Mednick

Sam’s passion for the sea and mountains makes Barcelona the optimal living destination. 

Sam's love for traveling has taken her to Africa, the Middle East, Europe and South America. Before...  More About Sam