Barcelona is world renowned for its creativity that dates back to Gaudi and even earlier. Tourists flock to the city to bear witness to its artistic side through architecture, fashion, art, and music. Much of that creativity also bleeds over to Barcelona’s food scene. From avant-garde Michelin star restaurants to neighborhood cava bars, Barcelona’s creative soul can be tasted through its food. The following is a guide on how to follow your stomach through Barcelona.
Enjoy breakfast on Carrer Petritxol
Carrer Petritxol is a tiny street in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter that is known for its granjas. Granjas are a little piece of heaven on Earth for those with a sweet tooth as they specialize in chocolates and pastries. My favorite is Dulcinea. Stop in for a churros and chocolate and wash it down with a hot chocolate or an espresso. This is the most traditional breakfast you can enjoy in Barcelona.
Tour the Mercat de la Boquería
At the heart of the Barcelona food scene is the Mercat de la Boquería. After you filled your chocolate craving, head to Boquería and watch as chefs meander the food stalls to receive their inspiration for the daily menu based on available seasonal ingredients. I recommend buying a cup of freshly squeezed juice from one of the many fruit stands to sip as you walk one of Europe’s largest food markets. Be sure to tour each aisle, nook, and cranny and witness the wide and fresh variety of seafood, produce, meat, and charcuterie.
Boquería is also a great place to grab a quick snack. Mixed in with the food purveyors are kiosk bars serving market fresh tapas alongside cava, the region’s sparkling wine. While I always recommend El Quim to see what surprise the chef is cooking up, it’s also fun to stop at multiple bars for a second (or third) swill of cava and house specialty tapa. As Barcelona is on the sea, the seafood selections always aim to please.
Don’t let the price tag of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota scare you away
Spaniards love their ham, and there’s good reason why. It’s arguable the best in the world. Yes, this Italian American even thinks it’s better than prosciutto (Please don’t tell my grandfather). Most tourists only ever sample jamón serrano. While those are better than any ham you’ll eat at home, they are by no means as good as Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, the holy grail of Spanish ham.
Jamón Ibérico de Bellota comes from happy, free-range pigs that forage on acorns. The acorns help raise fatter pigs that are filled with antioxidants, which allow for a longer curing time. Casa Alfonso is where locals have been going for decades for the best ham in the city.
End your day at a Cava Bar
Foodies who seek more haute inspired influences in their dishes should seek out one of Barcelona’s many Michelin star restaurants. However, this foodie tends to lean more towards traditional foods. Some of the most traditional foods you’ll find in Barcelona are in the city’s various cava bars. It seems like almost everyone has a favorite cava bar in town so you really can’t go wrong. My favorite though is El Xampanyet.
The crowd of El Xampanyet usually spills into the street while locals wait for a table. Order a bottle of house cava and wait with them. You’ll be sure to make friends. Once you do sit down, ask the waiter to start bringing his favorite tapas until you’re full.
End your dinner with a nightcap
The creative side of Barcelona’s cuisine is also found in its cocktail scene – in particular in the use of vermouth. After a full day of eating, grab a nightcap of vermouth. Or, if you haven’t had enough cava, order another bottle. It’s the perfect way to help sleep off a day of eating to prepare for another.
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