Take a stroll around the Ciutat Vella (‘Old City’) of Barcelona at 11PM and you may be expecting to see many of the restaurants beginning to close their doors. But let’s face it we are talking about Barcelona here and the Spanish just love to sample their fine cuisine late in the day! What better way to spend an evening than by nibbling on some of the amazing dishes available at the tapas bars on every street corner in Barcelona. If you are heading to the Catalan capital for the first time, you are probably wondering where you can find the best tapas in Barcelona?
What is Tapas?
Let’s start with the basics – what is tapas? Tapas is typically a small, savory dish or appetizer that is served with drinks at a restaurant or bar. It is one of many great stereotypes that we associate with Spanish cuisine and I highly encourage you to try some of these great dishes to really embrace the local culture.
Life without Tapas is like a heart without love.
Don’t you just love the above quote by BKS Iyengar? After satisfying your appetite around some of Barcelona’s finest tapas bars, you will certainly agree with this!
After spending a day exploring Gaudi’s finest architectural designs around Barcelona, we were excited to experience authentic Spanish tapas. However, with such a plethora of amazing restaurants and bars to choose from it’s difficult to know where to start. We are always open to trying new experiences but when you read reviews online or listen to opinions, it’s all a subjective viewpoint so you just have to go with your own instinct and try a variety of locations around the city.
Here are a few restaurants that we ‘subjectively’ think offer some of the best tapas in Barcelona. We always welcome others opinions and look forward to returning to Spain to sample more authentic tapas traditions. A food tour with Devour Barcelona is one way to be introduced to some of the more ‘local’ options, but we also took it upon ourselves to experience a couple of tapas bars on our evening strolls around the city.
Our first real experience of tapas was at Trobador Braseria Mediterranea located in the Plaça de Sant Miquel square. In the heart of the old city, this is one of the many stereotypical restaurants where you can relax either indoors or out, taking in the local atmosphere while dining the delicious cuisine.
So where do you begin when it comes to ordering tapas? It all depends on your tastebuds but I would encourage you to sample a variety to see exactly which are your favorites. We started out with three very different but typical Spanish dishes:
- Spanish Omelette
- Patatas Bravas
- Huevos Estrellados
The Spanish Omelette was a basic yet very tasty way to start our tapas experience. Commonly referred to as Tortilla Española, it is a combination of potatoes and eggs. A hint of onion is sometimes added but this gastronomic specialty is best served as authentic as possible. I’m not a huge fan of the jalapeño pepper that was served as an accompaniment but I’m hoping this was more of an aesthetic garnish than anything else.
The omelette was a nice introduction to Spanish tapas but we were ready for more. Next up was Heather’s new favorite dish – patatas bravas. Another simple dish with cubed or sliced white potatoes served with a spicy tomato based sauce drizzled over the top.
Trobador’s dish added an extra twist to traditional patatas bravas by including cheese over the spicy sauce. The zesty flavor of the sauce combined with the cheese and potatoes was a perfect combination though of course this was our first experience of this dish so we didn’t know any different.
Our final cuisine at Trobador was Huevos Estrellados which is a simple dish of fried potatoes, fried eggs and Ibérico ham. As the eggs break and the yolk breaks out across the potatoes and ham, it is a delicious yet messy combination. It’s the ultimate comfort food but why not indulge while exploring the beautiful city of Barcelona.
We opted for three potato based cuisines and even with tapas style smaller dishes, our appetites were well-satisfied after devouring these. Plus Barcelona is such a great ‘walking’ city, so don’t worry about the calories in these dishes.
If you read our recent post on our amazing food tour of Barcelona, you will note that we visited L’Anxoveta which is a traditional Spanish tapas bar offering authentic menu varieties that will really spark your interest as you explore the Gràcia neighborhood.
Owned by tapas expert Carlos, we were treated to a real display of awesome Spanish cuisine sampling some of the finest ‘pan con tomate’, also known as stereotypical Spanish tomato bread and a really cool looking Spanish meatball served with a spicy tomato sauce that added an extra kick to this dish!
Even though I hate tomatoes, the experience of making your very own tomato bread was pretty cool but waiting for la bomba was certainly worth it! I look forward to returning here just to sample more of these meatball delicacies.
Our final experience of tapas in Barcelona was also well worth the wait! Wandering around those gorgeous, narrow streets in the old city, we stumbled across El Guindilla, located along Calle Argenteria. This restaurant is situated in another of the stereotypical squares that offers a perfect reflection on Barcelona’s tight-knit community and how people enjoy their evenings relaxing among this perfect ambience.
With a little Spanish music playing in the background and flamed heaters providing a perfect romantic scene, we found a perfect table at El Guindilla and looked forward to devouring more authentic tapas.
Despite another array of amazing tapas cuisines to choose from, we opted for another order of patatas bravas and huevos estrellados.
Both provided a slightly different taste and appearance than our previous experience of these dishes, so we at least are now able to compare the two! I won’t say that we are tapas experts, but it’s nice to see how different chefs add their own personal touch to a pretty basic dish!
We also sampled their Fish and Chips, which is technically not a tapas dish but it was served like one!
What Do You Suggest?
I am delighted to be able to provide a number of other recommendations of great tapas bars around the Barcelona area. After reading all of these suggestions, I am convinced there will be something that appears. Here are what some of our fellow travel blogging friends have to say:
Tucked on a side street near the beach in Barceloneta, La Bombeta retains the charming atmosphere of the neighborhood. There is nothing fancy here, except amazing food at great prices. The signature dish ‘bombas’ is not to be missed. Also try patatas bravas, croquets de jamon, chorizo, garlic shrimp and pimientos de padron.
– Karilyn Owen, No Back Home
Tuscania Food and Wine
Tuscania Food and Wine is a wonderful, little tapas restaurant with a beautiful view of the Sagrada Familia. It’s a small oasis of authenticity in a sea of overpriced tourist traps. Very friendly and open owner.
– Bart Melis, Vetexbart
In the trendy Eixample neighborhood just two blocks off the Plaça de Catalunya is Tapas 24. Built by Carles Abellan (a 13-year veteran of Ferran Adrià’s elBulli, Tapas 24 features old-style tapas favorites, often with new and creative twists, including the delicious Patatas Bravas.
Despite being absolutely gourmet, Tapas 24 is reasonably priced. There are only a handful of tables and long waits can be possible, but it’s worth it!
– Lance Longwell, Travel Addicts
Paella del Arte
Paella del Arte is a small Tapas restaurant that is often not crowded, on a lovely street behind the Diagonal. The staff is very friendly. The food is out of this world, so good in fact that I went back several times while I was staying near there.
My favorite tapas at Paella:
- Traditional Spanish omelette
- Patatas Bravas
- Chicken Croquettes
- Marinated Pork Skewers
They also had sweet tapas for dessert. My favorite was lemon sorbet with Vodka poured over it. It was wonderful!
– Alecia Kryworuka, Family Vacay
Bar Bodega Quimet
One of my favorite tapas bars in Barcelona is called Bar Bodega Quimet – not to be confused with the much more popular (and touristy) Quimet & Quimet! It is your classic Barcelona vermouth bar, an old fashioned place where locals squeeze in for a glass of vermouth and some olives, anchovies, and fuet.
– Lauren Aloise, Spanish Sabores
Around the corner from La Sagrada Familia, Aitor Restaurant is a Basque-style “pinchas” experience. Point and choose what you eat. When you’re finished, they’ll count your toothpicks to determine your bill!
– Betsy Wuebker, Passing Thru
Good tapas right on La Rambla? You wouldn’t think so, but with all the foot traffic Cerveceria Baviera can maintain a huge, varied selection, and they keep the quality outstanding.
Try the tortilla with grilled peppers, patatas bravas, but whatever you do, don’t skip the Caracoles en Catalan (Catalan snails!)
– Sean Boyle, Venturists
The best tapas I’ve ever had was at Maitea in Barcelona. It was recommended to me by our AirBnB host who was a regular. My friends and I tried it on our first night and went back 4 more times throughout the week – it was that good! Maitea was quite popular and filled with locals in the evenings.
Don’t forget to keep your toothpicks because at the end they will count up your toothpicks and charge you accordingly. One of the best dining experiences of my life. Don’t miss it!
– Jordan Hamons, The Hungry Traveler
My absolute favorite place in Barcelona is the classic, family-run El Xampayet in the Born district. Don’t miss their cheese-stuffed ‘pimientos’ or house made cava. They also have excellent botifarra and calamares, and if nothing else just ask for ‘una sorpresa’ (surprise) and you won’t be disappointed!
– Anne Lowrey, Part Time Traveler
El 58 offers a modern twist on tapas, without the pretentiousness those kinds of places often come with. The menu changes based on what’s in season and is brought to you hand written on a big black board.
Must try items are the botifarra with chickpeas and the patatas bravas, but I’ve loved every dish I’ve ever had there so you can’t really go wrong!
– Edwina D, Travelling German
Vaso de Oro
It may be in all the guidebooks but Vaso de Oro still retains its traditional Spanish charm. You can sit along the bar, watch the food being prepared in front of you, and wash it all down with one of their own light or dark beers. We ordered Manchego served with roasted and salted almonds, and spicy tuna.
– Kiara Gallop, Gallop Around The Globe
Hungry yet? What an array of amazing tapas bars to choose from. Rather than figuring out which one is right for you, here is my recommendation – TRY THEM ALL! Even though we only sampled three tapas bars during our short stay in Barcelona, I am intrigued to return to the Catalan capital to experience some of the other recommendations that our fellow travelers have suggested.
Whether you want to try the snails or perhaps the manchego with roasted almonds, there is a wealth of delectable cuisine to choose from!