Tapas in Barcelona
Barcelona is an incredible city. The atmosphere, the culture, the city life and the beach all wrapped into one holiday destination make it extremely appealing, and the delicious food is the icing on the cake. Although Barcelona may not be well known for the best place to eat tapas in Spain, it is home to a few little dining gems like the world-famous Cal Pep, the enormous food market La Boqueria and one of my personal favourites, La Fonda restaurant. The odd bikini (toasted ham and cheese sandwich) and café con leche (coffee with milk) while strolling down La Ramblas is also quite the experience and sure beats the hell out of a Pret a Manger coffee and breakfast bap .
Although I don’t cook, just standing in a supermarket makes me happy, so you can imagine how thrilled I am when in a food market the size of La Boqueria. This market which is situated in the middle of La Ramblas is a must do for all foodies visiting Barcelona. It is a covered market, filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood, cheese, bread, wine and more, and throughout the marketplace there are small tapas bars if you fancy someone preparing the fresh food right in front of you.
La Boqueria is perfect if you want to cook while in Barcelona but also quite useful for stocking up on snacks like nuts, fruit and sweets before a day of wandering in the city.
And if you’re in the mood for a crepe made by a French man with a lot of character, visit Crep Barcelona on the right hand side of the market (if you’re standing at the entrance). He makes crepes filled with the typical chocolate and banana or sugar and lemon, as well as ones as extravagant as brie cheese and orange relish or goats cheese, walnuts, spinach and honey – yum!
La Fonda restaurant, which is open for lunch and dinner, is an excellent place to dine if you’re not looking to splash out huge amounts of cash but still looking for quality paella and sangria. I dined with four people and we shared a very large bowl of seafood paella, but not before three starters: mushroom ravioli, a seafood crepe and a mixed tapas platter of calamari, chorizo, tortilla and grilled peppers.
We also enjoyed a few pitchers of really good sangria – not that terrible watered down stuff they sell the tourists on the beach and along La Ramblas. The vibe of La Fonda is decent as well – it is a two story restaurant which is cozy. The tables are clothed and the service is great. And every time I am presented with the bill at La Fonda I am more than pleased – it has never been more than 20 Euros a head and I have always left feeling full and a bit merry.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to eat tapas – or just looking for an incredible meal in Barcelona – go to Cal Pep. There are three things you need to know when dining at this restaurant:
- You must arrive at 7.30 pm to join the queue outside. They open at 8 pm and by that time there will be enough people in the queue to fill the bar seats.
- The bar seats are the best in the house – you can watch all the action and chat in Spanglish with the chefs and the waiters
- Don’t worry about speaking Spanish or ordering the right thing – tell the waiter how many people are in your party, whether they eat fish and meat, and allow him to bring you the specials.
The tapas at Cal Pep was a meal I will remember for the rest of my life, and the next time I am in Barcelona this restaurant will be my first stop. We were lucky enough to get four seats at the bar during the very first wave of service of the evening. We enjoyed a bottle of Rioja while the chefs went to work and delivered about ten dishes of tapas in 20 minutes before our eyes. It was all a bit rushed and there were people standing behind us, breathing down our necks in the queue, but it was all part of the experience.
We enjoyed a delicious tuna tartare, grilled green peppers, fresh sliced ham and crispy bread. Still to come was a heavenly tortilla with plenty of garlic, cheese and potatoes and a platter of fried calamari.
The most unforgettable dishes came at the end – grilled calamari with chick peas and grilled calamari with artichokes and beans, and the grand finale of sausage with butter beans and a maple syrupy sauce lightly spread over the top.
As I looked over at one of my friends I could see she was in sheer ecstasy and I have to admit, I was as well.
Despite feeling like we should rush out, we ordered another bottle of wine and left the bar seats to stand behind the action and chat and watch the chefs at work. We had great banter with the waiters and the head chef, and at the end of it the bill came to 40 Euros each – a very reasonable price for a couple bottles of wine and tapas that made our eyes roll back into our heads.