11 Must Eat Foods in Barcelona – A Catalonia Food Guide
Barcelona attracts us to Catalonia with the promise of Gaudi and Picasso. However, it’s the cuisine that most impresses foodies. From avant-garde Michelin star to traditional Spanish and Catalan cuisine, the region is quickly becoming known more for its food than its art.
Any foodie worth his or her fork needs to make the pilgrimage to Catalonia. Start in Barcelona and then explore the rest of the region. Here are 11 must eat foods in my guide to Catalonia food.
I’m pretty sure this is the national food of Spain, right? When I was there, I ate jamón with every meal of the day and even some snacks in between. I never complained because it’s the best ham in the world.
For a special treat, splurge on Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. It will be the most expensive thing you eat in Spain, but it’s so worth it. You’ll never eat prosciutto again (Okay, you might. But you’ll be thinking of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota).
I ate some delicious Jamón Ibérico de Bellota at Casa Alfonso, but you can find plenty of counters to belly up to for a glass of cava and plate of ham at the Boqueria market.
Pan con Tomate
Tomato bread is the garlic bread of Spain. It’s easy to make. Take a piece of crusty bread, drizzle some Spanish olive oil on it, rub it with garlic, and smear tomatoes.
It’s served at most restaurants in Spain with your meal whether you ordered it or not. Regardless if you eat it, they will charge you for it. Don’t get mad. You aren’t going to change their custom. Instead, tell them you don’t want it when you sit down. But seriously, why would you?
Plan a Trip to Barcelona
I’m here to help you plan your perfect foodie vacation in Barcelona. Start by checking out my list of the 9 most mouthwatering hotels in Barcelona. Some of the fun of food travels though is getting to cook with local ingredients in your vacation rental. I get it. Here are some options from HomeAway to live like a local.
Best. Artichokes. Ever. Period. Whether they’re grilled, marinated, pickled, or fried, Spanish artichokes are the most flavorful in the world. Given the artistic nature of Catalonia, it’s fun to taste each chef’s twist. Order the fried artichokes at Bar Cañete in Barcelona.
Olives were almost as prevalent as jamón. I’d say as equally delicious, too, but that jamón!
I love that each farmers market I went to had multiple booths selling olives. Some with over 20 varieties. Think spicy, think briny, think vinegary. It’s all there in the many varieties of Spanish olives. And here you thought a Spanish olive was that pimiento studded green thing in your martini.
Pimientos de Padron
These peppers are also referred to as roulette peppers. Why? Because you never know what the hell you’re going to get when you eat one. I ate one that was sweet. The next was so hot I finished half a bottle of cava on my own. Regardless of the gamble, they’re fun to eat and worth the risk. I recommend them alongside a grilled steak at El Xampanyet in Barcelona.
This is a staple among Catalan dishes. Think paella meets pasta. Fideuá is a dish of buckwheat noodles and calamari served with aioli on the side.
After Spain, I traveled to Brussels – the city that is supposedly famous for its mussels. You know the saying, “Mussels from Brussels.” Or perhaps that’s referring to Jean-Claude Van Damme (whom I told I closely resemble)…
The mussels from Brussels didn’t compare to anything I had in Spain. In Spain, they were fresher, plumper, and prepared in a much more delicate manner. I couldn’t eat enough of these classic Catalan tapas.
Braised Boar’s Tail
While it’s popular in many European countries, it’s next to impossible to find in the United States. Eat it for that reason. Sure, the meat is still attached to the bone (Don’t say ick. You eat BBQ ribs that way…), it’s fork-tender, succulent, and moist. If you find yourself in Terres de l’Ebre, eat it at the Wine Cathedral in El Pinell de Brai.
It’s a staple of Catalan breakfast and how you should start your day. Order yours with a hot chocolate and send me a thank you note.
Take a Food Tour of Barcelona
Got you salivating over Catalonia food and not sure you can squeeze it all into one trip? Get Your Guide offers two tours that I highly recommend to help you taste the best of the best. Their Tapas and Wine Walking Tour merges three things Barcelona is most known for history, tapas, and Spanish wine as it weaves through the El Born and Gothic neighborhoods. If you prefer hands-on cooking classes, sign-up for the Half-Day Spanish Cooking Class & Market Tour.
Arroz Negro con Mariscos
Another must try Catalan food. Arroz negro con mariscos is a great baby step into traditional Catalan foods. The black rice dish is similar to paella in many ways, except it’s brinier and you can taste more of the sea in it.
I’m pretty sure cava is the second official food of Spain, at least in Catalan. I recommend it with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or whenever you are thirsty. It’s the perfect complement to Barcelona food.
Need Help Packing?
I got you covered there, too, with my European packing guide!