Article by Matt Gibson originally published in one edition of the Atmosphere magazine. Read the latest edition here.
Barcelona is not a destination you just visit, it’s a place where you eat. Here are a few tips to ensure you experience the best of this city’s gastronomic delights:
Eat Something Random
We highly recommend that, at least once during your trip, you wander into a random restaurant and ask the waiter to bring “whatever is good.” That’s how, one morning in a small bodega, we discovered our favourite Spanish breakfast: beer and a calamari sandwich. There’s nothing like sitting on a patio and sinking your teeth into a half of a fresh baguette smothered in fresh, tender, deep-fried rings of octopus and washing it down with a cold Estrella Damm Daura.
Eat Somewhere Famous
Barcelona has a longstanding reputation for being one of the most innovative gastronomic destinations in the world. The city had 24 Michelin-starred restaurants in 2014—more than any other city on the continent except London and Paris—and was named the best gastronomical city in the world by MSNBC in 2009. If you enjoy eating tiny portions of flamboyantly decorated food served on strangely-shaped plates, you’ll be in heaven.
Try Some Local Specialties
Fortunately for seafood lovers, most of Barcelona’s tourist attractions are near the harbour, which is where the city’s best paella is found. This rice and seafood dish is a Spanish institution, and Barcelona is known for having the best (kind of like Montreal for poutine). There’s no consensus about which restaurant serves the best paella, though they all seem to be trying. Therefore, we recommend trying several restaurants’ subtly different take on the classic dish.
Get your fill while you can, because you’ll probably never enjoy another platter of paella as much as the one you’re served while on a patio overlooking the port of Barcelona.
After dinner, head to local hot spot Granja M. Viader for a cup of their famous traditional Catalan-style hot chocolate. If you’re not a chocolate person, try Papabubble, a sweets boutique on Carrer Ample, where they make your dessert right in front of you.
Barcelona is also full of artisanal bakeries and ice cream shops, each of which distinguishes itself with a unique take on common dishes. We won’t venture to recommend one because, for us, the best part of Barcelona is exploring the small shops on our own and trying their specialties in search of our new favourite.
Experimentation is encouraged! And if at some point you’re feeling peckish, or you’d like to stave off your hunger before eating a true Spanish dinner (Spaniards don’t eat until around 9 or 10 p.m.), your best bet is to find some tapas to nibble on. These small dishes are perfect for snacking and making sure everyone finds something they like. If you’re not sure where to go, the locally-loved Tapas 24 is always recommended.
So when planning your cross-continental trip to Barcelona, remember to include food as one of your main priorities. For all the food lovers out there, Barcelona is an absolute must. You won’t be disappointed!
Addresses to check out:
Granja M Viader
Carrer Xuclà, 4-6, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Carrer Ample, 28, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Carrer de la Diputació, 269, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
Featured Image Credit: Haleigh Walsworth