When a city celebrates art, design and architecture as the centre of its culture, you can expect that this too extends to the food. And it does, in the innovative streak you find in Barcelona’s vibrant restaurant scene. But, just like the barrios that Barcelona is made up of, each with its own personality, you will also find a wide variety of cooking styles and flavours – from traditional fare to casual tapas and high end gastronomy.
Let’s start with the more traditional style options, beginning with breakfast. The classic Spanish breakfast of Huevos Estrallados (scrambled or more correctly ‘shattered’ eggs) is freshly cooked soft scrambled curds with fried potatoes draped in thinly sliced jamon and no place does it better than La Bodegueta, a sunken wine cellar and tapas bar on the corner of the Rambla de Catalunya. Follow it with little custard rolls and a café con leche and brekkie is done. This is unfussy food, prepared in a flash with the best of ingredients that you will crave again and again.
Their sister restaurant, La Bodegueta Provença is perfect for evening tapas before a stroll. Sautéed shrimp and leeks, fresh fried anchovies, patatas bravas with romesco and aioli, riserva iberica jamon and the ubiquitous pan con tomate are all there for the picking.
For classic slow roasted meats including suckling pig, goat shoulder, leg of lamb and ribs, the rustic El Rincon doesn’t disappoint. It’s a meat lovers heaven as whole joints of meat rest in large trays fresh from the roasting oven, just waiting to be devoured in the most medieval style.
Every foodie must make a trip to the majestic La Boqueria market to be immersed in the colour and quality of the local produce that is the basis for such fine food in this city.
For a beach vibe, head to Agua for fried artichokes, Andalusian calamari and Fiduea, a Catalan paella style short pasta noodle dish, with prawns and clams. All washed down with a beer as you dine alfresco with a sea view…life is good.
Forget nuevo degustations for a while, and make room in your belly for a full on feast at El Passadís del Pep
No need to order – just let them bring you food until you can eat no more – sweet and juicy razor clams, grilled sea snails, tender calamari, salt-baked prawns, charred Catalan peppers, an inked cuttlefish arroz, milk fed roasted lamb shank and, if you have room for dessert, strawberry mille feuille and apple crema catalan….phew.
For late night Tapas, or anytime for that matter, sit at the bar and watch the chefs at work at Tapas 24. It’s the place for the best ‘bikini’ sandwich in town … Buffalo mozzarella, Jamon and truffles…mmm. As well as Bomba to die for and crunchy Torreznos (deep fried crispy pork belly) with guacamole.
Loidi is a classy, nuevo-style bistro with an ultra-mod design that offers innovative twists with Spanish flavours. The seasonal set menu is both surprising and very good value, with the desserts – gold leaf pear and chocolate mousse ingot, and a cheese tart with red fruits and candied walnuts – being the stand-out.
For flashy cocktails and sophisticated food in a place that feels like the place to be, swan in to Restaurante Boca Grande. Loved the deep, dark Paella Nero for two (excuse the shot, it was dark, and, well…I’d had a few cocktails by then!).
And when you have eaten your way around Barcelona and you are headed to the airport on an early morning flight, then Bar Velodromo, open almost 24 hours, has got you covered for that last minute hankering for huevos and churros…
Oh Barcelona…so much food….so little time….