The 18 Restaurants You Must Visit in Barcelona

My first exposure to solo traveling was when I studied abroad in Barcelona for a month while in high school. This was when I first felt that wanderlust, when I first fell in love with exploring and immersing myself in another country. I remember some great Spanish food from that trip (the first time I tried a Spanish tortilla, paella, and churros con chocolate), but I knew I wanted to return one day (when I was old enough to partake in the sangria) and fully dive into Barcelona’s food scene. 

The next logical step? Convince my family we should spend the holidays on a vacation to Spain! Luckily for me, the food has only gotten better and better with time...

These are my 18 must-hit restaurants in Barcelona:

Tapas:

1. Bar Cañete - Make a reservation! This place is one of the few restaurants off La Rambla that is not a tourist trap (thus making it pretty tough to get in). We got lucky by going around 5pm and snagging a canceled reservation (Spaniards really do eat dinner at 10pm). Some favorite dishes included the fancy croquettes (lobster!), the paella, the bomba, and the oxtail mashed potatoes.

2. Jai Ca - Solid, no-frills tapas spot in the Barceloneta neighborhood. We also enjoyed quite a few mojitos here...

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3. El Capritx - We had originally set out for dinner at Can Recasens, but it was closed for the holidays. Quite hangrily, we stumbled next door into what turned out to be a fantastic restaurant, including the best jamón I had in Spain.

4. Boqueria Mercat - One of the most famous markets in the world! Stall after stall of fresh Spanish produce, tiny restaurants with four bar stools at a counter, and as much jamón iberico and Manchego cheese as you could possibly desire.

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Brunch:

5. Brunch & Cake - This Aussie hotspot is pretty Instagram-famous for it’s gorgeous presentations, but at this trendy cafe the food actually tastes as good as it looks! They have several locations (we went to the one in Barceloneta), and we sat on the gorgeous outdoor patio while feasting on the Nutella pancakes, the açaí bowl, the Mac and cheese, and the eggs.

6. Flax & Kale - After tapa after tapa, my body began to crave healthy food. I need an açaí bowl fix! Flax & Kale to the rescue. This spot has one of the cutest restaurant interior designs I’ve seen, a juice bar, a kombucha lab, specialty coffees, and lots of healthy options.

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7. Firebug - An adorable brunch spot we stumbled into while meandering around Barcelona. What a pleasant surprise! Some fave dishes were the banana pancakes, the Turkish eggs, and the chorizo hash.

8. Federal Cafe - Another Aussie cafe making quite the delicious mark on the Spanish food scene. We loved their coffee, as well as their mac and cheese, squash curry, and a super cozy bowl of chili.

Sweets:

9. Churreria San Roman - BEST. CHURROS. OF. MY. LIFE. Some are stuffed with Nutella, chocolate, or caramel, some are plain with sugar, and, of course, there’s a dipping chocolate you can (and should buy on the side). I went back three times. 

10. Parallelo Gelato - Incredible Italian gelato with super creative flavors (avocado, truffled cheese, black sesame, etc.). After extensive taste testing, I ultimately settled on coconut (a personal favorite) and my mom opted for hazelnut and black chocolate.

11. Demasié - This bright and cheery pastry shop specializes in uniquely flavored cinnamon rolls. My favorite was the one with the passion fruit glaze - a perfect balance of sweet and sour!

Coffee:

12. Nømad Coffee - Whoa. Some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. I had a deliciously floral cup of black coffee, but my parents ordered really interesting lattes that tasted like buttered toast (they actually had olive oil and breadcrumbs mixed in with the milk!). Sounds weird, tastes fantastic. Trust me on this one!

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13. La Central - Super cute coffee shop tucked in the back of a bookstore. Gorgeous windows, ample seating, and even a balcony perfect for reading with a cup of joe.

Cocktails:

14. Paradiso / Pastrami Bar - Barcelona’s coolest cocktail bar is a speakeasy that's hidden inside a pastrami shop! Open the door that looks like a fridge, go through the red velvet curtain, and enter paradiso! I chose to imbibe in a rum-based cocktail with coconut and chocolate! My sister tried one that came served in a smoking magic lamp. (And the pastrami sandwiches are the perfect drunk food.)

15. Dux Borne - Another award-winning cocktail bar with more creative draaanks! I got another rum cocktail served in a bathtub (rubber ducky included), and my sister's tequila cocktail was served in a skull.

Dinner:

16. Frankie Gallo Cha Cha Cha - Wood-fired, Neapolitan pizza in Spain?! Say whaaaaa? This former New Yorker (hi, that's me!) can actually attest that this pizza pretty damn good. And the sangria is strong. STRONG!

17. El Nacional - The Eataly of Spanish food, El Nacional is a gorgeous space off of La Rambla comprised of four different restaurants (one for seafood, one for tapas, one for meat, and a deli) and some bars (beer, wine, cocktails, and oysters). There's something for everyone!

18. Disfrutar - See the full review and tasting menu here.

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These restaurants were closed for the holidays during our trip, but I hope to hit them next time:

  • Tickets

  • Tapas: Quimet y Quimet, Bomba Bar La Cova Fumada, Bar Ramon

  • Brunch: Can Dende, La Carioca

Following along on Instagram? See more from the trip at #CarnivorrTravel.