Barcelona’s location on the Mediterranean Sea within close proximity of the Pyrenees mountains has long ensured an abundant supply of fresh local ingredients in its cuisine. Whilst the resulting combination of meat and seafood dishes (Mar i Muntanya) is a common feature of Catalan cuisine there’s also a vast range of pork, chicken and vegetable dishes sourced from the farmlands of Catalonia. Typical ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet such as olive oil, garlic, fresh vegetables, legumes and fish are an intrinsic part of a local cuisine which is thriving in the city’s tapas bars and restaurants.
Whilst traditional Spanish tapas dishes such as ‘patatas bravas’, ‘tortilla de patatas’ and ‘croquetas’ are available in most tapas bars there are other dishes with a more Catalan flavour. These include the simple ‘pa amb tomàquet’ (tomato and olive oil rubbed onto bread) and ‘botifarra amb mongetes’ (pork sausage with white beans). You’ll also find a selection of creative salads such as ‘esqueixada’ which includes salt cod and a great choice of pork based ’embutidos’ (cured meats) and cheeses from all over the country. Be sure to look out for ‘alioli’ which is a very garlicky mayonnaise sauce which is frequently served in Barcelona tapas bars.
Map of Barcelona Tapas Bars
Tapas Bars in the the Boqueria
One of Barcelona’s top tourist attractions away from the Gaudí experience is a visit to the city’s food market which stands on the western side of the Ramblas. Historic references to the Boqueria market date back to the 13th century although it wasn’t until 1840 that something resembling a permanent marketplace was established in its current location. Today the market is one of Europe’s greatest fresh food markets with hundreds of stalls selling produce from all over the country.
The market is also home to some of the city’s best tapas bars where you can pull up a stool at the bar and sample a selection of dishes created from ingredients sourced from nearby food stalls. Some of the most famous of the Boqueria’s tapas bars include:
Bar Pinotxo: This historic venue serves a fine range of Catalan favourites and many seafood tapas. Frequently recommended by customers is their ‘garbanzos salteados con morcilla’ (chickpeas with blood sausage).
Website: Bar Pinotxo
El Quim De La Boqueria: This little bar serves an amazing selection of tapas to the fortunate few customers who manage to get a front line seat. Whilst there are plenty traditional tapas available such as ‘patatas bravas’ available their signature dish seems to be the ‘huevos fritos con chipironcitos’ (fried eggs with baby squid).
Website: El Quim De La Boqueria
Tapas Bars in Barrio Gótico
Bar La Plata (Carrer de la Mercè, 28): Located near the old port this tiny bar has been serving the same four tapas since it was founded in 1945. Deep fried whitebait (pescadito frito), tomato salad (ensalada de tomate con cebolla y olivas), anchovies on bread (montaditos de anchoas) and Catalan sausage on bread (montaditos de butifarra) are the order of the day. There are rearely enough seats available so you may find yourself standing at the bar or on the street with your tapas and a glass of wine from the barrel.
Website: Bar La Plata
Bar Celta Pulperia (Carrer de Simó Oller, 3): The Spanish region of Galicia lies on the Atlantic north-west coast and is home to some of the country’s best seafood and white wines. Bar Celta is a great place to go in Barcelona for a taste of Galicia where you can enjoy the typical ‘pulpo a feira’ (boiled octopus with paprika served on a wooden plate) washed down with a glass of Albariño wine served in a traditional white ceramic cup. There are plenty other dishes available if this doesn’t take your fancy.
Website: Bar Celta Pulperia
Irati Taverna Basca (Carrer Cardenal Casanyes 15): Located just off the Ramblas in the Gothic Quarter this establishment was the first one to introduce traditional Basque ‘pintxos’ to Barcelona. Today it flourishes as one of the city’s top venues for Basque cuisine in the city. Customers just get a plate and help themselves to tapas which are spread along the bar or can take a seat in the dining room.
Website: Taverna Basca Irati
Bar del Pi (Sant Josep Oriol, 1): This historic bar on the edge of Plaça del Pi is something of a magnet for tourists wandering around the Gothic Quarter. Nice place to grab an outdoor table and order a cold beer with few traditional tapas dishes such as patatas bravas, croquetas and calamares fritos.
El Portalón (Carrer dels Banys Nous, 20): In spite of its location in the heart of the touristy Gothic quarter this lively bar-restaurant attracts more than its fair share of local clients. Dating back to 1890 this historic venue serves a fine selection of Catalan favourites including ‘pa amb tomàquet’ which is local bread coated with tomato and olive oil. You should also try some local wines served in terracotta jugs.
Tapas Bars in El Born (Ribera)
The fashionable barrio of El Born is located below Carrer de la Princesa and east of Via Laietana in the La Ribera district of the old city (Ciutat Vella) of Barcelona. Home to the Picasso Museum and many stylish tapas bars and cafés, it is very popular with tourists.
Cal Pep (Plaça de les Olles, 8): This iconic venue in the La Ribera district is popular with locals and tourists alike. Whilst it is best known for its exceptional seafood tapas there are plenty other options available. Customers can sit at the lively bar and watch the food being cooked in front of them or take a seat in the small dining room. You should try to get there early as long queues are common.
Website: Cal Pep
Bar del Pla (Carrer de Montcada, 2): This El Born favourite has become so popular that locals stand outside waiting for a bar stool. As well as offering quality cured hams and traditional tapas they have earned quite a reputation for creating a selection of modern Catalan dishes such as their ‘Octopus Bombs’ (Croqueta de Calamar en Su Tinta). Booking a table is highly recommended even for couples.
Website: Bar del Pla
El Xampanyet (Carrer de Montcada, 22): Considered something of an institution in the El Born neighbourhood, this traditional old tapas bar is still run by members of the same family who founded it in 1929. Its decor has hardly changed over the years and it remains a friendly place to go for a few glasses of cava together with shared plates of ham, cheese and anchovies.
Website: El Xampanyet
Bodega La Puntual (Carrer de Montcada, 22): From the street this tapas bar might not seem very appealing but step inside and you’ll be treated to some of area’s best tapas in a charming venue. As well as offering a good selection of fine hams and cheeses the menu also includes traditional Spanish tapas and some excellent Catalan dishes. Customers can sit at the bar of this hidden gem or take a seat in the spacious dining room.
Website: Bodega La Puntual
Taberna Euskal Etxea (Placeta de Montcada, 1): This is another high quality Basque tapas bar where you can choose from a large quantity of ‘pintxos’ which are set out on the bar. Waiters also wander around with trays of hot pintxos which have just come from the kitchen. If you can’t get a stool at the crowded bar there’s also the option of sitting in the dining room at the back where you can order a la carte meals (including paella) as well as tapas-style dishes.
Website: Euskal Etxea
La Vinya del Senyor (Plaça Santa Maria, 5): This specialist wine bar is a great place to sit outside facing the church of Santa Maria del Mar and take in the atmosphere of the historic neighbourhood. They offer over 300 fine wines as well as cavas and sherries to accompany their excellent Iberian hams and cheeses. On a chilly evening you can go inside and ask for an upstairs table overlooking the Plaza.
Website: La Vinya del Senyor
Tapas Bars in Eixample
Taberna Maitea (Carrer de Casanova, 155): If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting a tapas bar in the Basque Country you’ll most likely have seen a bar piled high with ‘pintxos’. These are tapas presented on a slice of bread with a toothpick holding it together. Taberna Maitea is one of the best Basque taverns in Barcelona where you help yourself to a plate and your choice of pintxos. Just keep the toothpicks and you’ll be charged at the end according to how many you’ve eaten (everything is the same price).
Website: Taberna Maitea
La Sopa Boba (Carrer del Bruc, 115): Discreetly located on a street close to Casa Milà this more of a classy tapas restaurant than simply a tapas bar. The place is very professional throughout with very friendly waiters who really go out of their way to look after their customers. Whilst many classic tapas are available they are prepared in a uniquely creative fashion which makes this restaurant stand out. The venue is very small so bookings are recommended.
Bar Ramón (Carrer del Comte Borrell, 81): Located in Barrio Sant Antoni this historic bar has been serving a mainly local clientele since 1939. Being far enough away from the tourist district has allowed it to maintain its traditional ambience and thrive as a lively neighbourhood bar where customers can enjoy a good selection of traditional tapas such as patatas bravas, croquettes and gambas al ajillo.
Website: Bar Ramón
Tapas Bars in Other Barrios
El Vaso de Oro (Carrer de Balboa, 6): This is a truly authentic tapas bar in Barceloneta where most of the clientele are locals. Their traditional tapas are some of the best around with croquetas, chorizo and patatas bravas amongst the most popular. It’s a lively place which brews its own beers ensuring that there’s usually a great atmosphere at the bar.
Quimet i Quimet (Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, 25): Last but by no mean least on our recommended tapas bars in Barcelona is this tiny venue in Poble-Sec which started life in 1914 as a small shop from where the current owner’s great-grandfather sold homemade wine. Today with standing room for no more than twenty customers it is one of the city’s most revered tapas bars. As well as offering a selection of traditional tapas they also serve a long list of ‘montaditos’ for which the bar is most popular. These are slices of bread topped with a choice of many toppings such as salmon with cream cheese which is one of the most popular.
Neighbourhood: El Poble-Sec