Time zone: Spain (GMT+2)
Best to visit: All year round
Spain is situated on the European continent, in the Iberic Peninsula. From its pristine coastlines to colourful culture, Spain is one of the most popular countries in the world, which has also colonized most of the South American continent and borrowed its language too.
You might know Spain for its diverse heritage, as well as music and dances, but there is more to this country than meets the eye. A must-see destination all year round, most tourists visit the largest cities in Spain, from the capital Madrid to Barcelona and Valencia, but it has also wonderful countryside destinations to offer.
One of the best things to do in Spain as a tourist is to indulge in the local, traditional cuisine. The cuisine also presents variations across the country, but some of the most delicious dishes can be found in the Catalan region, with the capital city in Barcelona.
Barcelona is the second-largest city in Spain, set on the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, and most tourists visit it for its amazing architecture, with some of the greatest pieces designed by the visionary Gaudi. From Sagrada Familia to Casa Batllo, you are in for some stunning visual treats.
But when you’re done with sightseeing and want to relax, where can you go eat something to blow your mind?
Which areas to avoid in Barcelona
If you want to eat like a local in Barcelona, you have to know there are some areas you best avoid. And not because the food there might make you sick, but because you will only find international dishes prepared for those who do not want to have a taste of the real vibe of the city.
So, firstly, stay away from La Rambla area. You will only find half-decent restaurants there, and they are so crowded that you will stay in line for minutes to even get a table. Locals do their best to avoid this tourist over-crowded area, and for good reason. Yes, you will find here the Spanish traditional dishes, such as paella or tapas, but the over-population of the area does not offer the restaurant’s enough time to put some love and care into your food.
Traditional food in Barcelona
Everybody knows by now that, if you want to eat something traditional, you must avoid the touristic areas. And this is also the case in Barcelona. But first, which are the traditional dishes you must look for when visiting this wonderful city?
Well, traditional food in Barcelona might be quite different than you imagined. Catalan food offers some great gourmet delicacies, and most of them are based on seasonal ingredients, such as sea fruit, vegetables and local fruit.
One of the first delicacies you can try is Arròs negre, a black rice paella with squid. Catalans use black rice, infused with squid ink and juicy slices of squid, cooked in a flat pan just like the paella. And it usually comes served with homemade garlic mayonnaise.
Faves a la Catalana is another delicious dish, a Catalan blood pudding made with seasonal fava beans. This dish is cooked in an earthenware dish to seal all the flavours and it is mainly offered during winter, as the vegetables are fresh.
Another mouth-watering flavour for which Barcelona is known is the cold cured meats. The most famous one is Jamon, cured ham, but there are some particular to this area. These include the Fuet, a salami made from dried cured pork, the Botifarra negra, a pork blood sausage, and the Botifarra d’ou, a white pork sausage made with eggs. All these cold cured meats are best enjoyed with fresh bread and seasonal tomatoes, and they are perfect for a picnic in one of the many parks in the city.
Besides all these, there is also paella, more traditional to the entire country and the tapas, bite-sized snacks which can be made with vegetables, cured meats and even seafood.
Local restaurants in Barcelona
The best advice we can offer you is to be adventurous when it comes to food, no matter where you travel to. The genuine local cuisine of a destination might not be what you are used to, but this is the best part. You might get this chance once in your lifetime, so why not make the best of it?
Oh, and if you want to eat like the locals in Barcelona, prepare yourself for a late dinner. Sure, you can have some snacks along the way, such as olives or patatas bravas, a potato tapas, but locals always have their dinner after 8:30 pm.
So, after you’ve checked all the things on your bucket list for the day, head for the Mercader de l’Eixample restaurant. Locals enjoy it for its classic home cooking and you can eat Canalones here, as well as rice dishes and sausages.
If you’d like something lighter, go to Somorrostro restaurant, it’s right on your way to the beach. This small, traditional Catalan restaurant will serve you the most peculiar seafood dishes, for example, baby crabs which you can eat with their shell. However traditional, the people working here are young and you get a rebellious vibe to season your food with. And they also serve a great wine selection, all you have to do is ask them to recommend something.
For a traditional-modern fusion, we recommend La Taverna del Suculent. And yes, they offer succulent dishes! Bullfighting and rumba are all around here, as the restaurant gets you into the Spanish vibe, while you order the daily dishes, based on seasonal vegetable and fruit, as well as tapas. On Sunday afternoons you can also listen to live flamenco if you have your brunch here!
These are just some of the local restaurants where mouth-watering Catalan dishes wait for you. Our best advice to you to eat like a local in Barcelona? Avoid the tourist areas and don’t be afraid to try local dishes, no matter how peculiar they might seem!