I love food, it’s no secret. Spain, and in particular Barcelona, is one of my favorite places to eat. This is due in large part to the availability of tapas. I just love the concept of these small plates of Spanish food, which allow me not only to snack throughout the day, but also to try many different dishes in one sitting.
The concept of tapas has evolved over the years. It once was the case that a tapa came free with a drink. It was small morsel of food placed on a drink coaster, which was then placed on top of the drink, to keep the flies out. Oh how times have changed. Although there are still areas of Spain where tapas are complimentary with the purchase of a drink this is much harder to find when it comes to tapas in Barcelona. The same is true for tapas in Madrid too. And, from simple morsels of food to complex tapas, it is now possible to find elaborate tapas bars, with truffles and other luxury ingredients to fancy up the concept of tapas.
For me, though, the simple tapas in Barcelona remain my favorite. Costing as little as two or three Euros, and served alongside a two Euro glass of cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, you can see why I enjoy eating in Spain so much.
My List of The 10 Best Tapas in Barcelona
One of the most universal and widely known of the tapas in Barcelona, and throughout Spain. Fried chunks of potatoes with bravas sauce, which generally includes a tangy tomato style sauce, and a mayonnaise based cream sauce. This is like tapas 101, and can be found on every tapas menu around the world. I try to stay away from these tapas because I feel that they are a little touristy, but they are the perfect tapa to fill up on, or to soak up the beer or cava, which occasionally just needs to happen.
This particular plate of potatas bravas were more thin and more crispy than the usual order, perhaps because they are from the fancy tapas bar Bodega 1900.
The bomba is a potato and ground beef croquette, topped with brava sauce, which most people are familiar with because of patatas bravas. This is a Barcelona speciality, and more specifically a Catalan speciality. There is a revolutionary story behind the dish, hence the name bomba, relating to the Spanish Civil War. The bomba was one of the tapas in Barcelona that was new to us on this trip. This particular bomba was part of our Devour Barcelona Food Tour, meaning it was one of about twelve dishes of food we had that afternoon.
Olives can be a divisive food item, and I know there are people out there who just scream “Just Say No to Olives!” I am not one of them. With so many different varieties, I could order a plate or two a day and not get tired. Besides, the vinegar and acidity of the olives makes them a perfect tapas in Barcelona, perfect to pair with a cold drink on a warm Barcelona afternoon.
I was first introduced to boquerones by a friend at a vermouth bar in Madrid, when we spent an afternoon eating like locals in Madrid.. At first, I was hesitant, considering the reputation of sardines and anchovies in the States. But these fresh, tiny little fish were soaked in olive oil, some seasonings, and lemon, and they make a great bar snack. We tried two types of boquerones during this visit, including a fried version at Tapas 24. I like anything fried for sure, but I truly love the fresher variety, particularly when layered with thin slices of fresh garlic.
Although there is no Museo del Jamon in Barcelona (a crying shame if you ask me), we were able to find plenty of plates of jamon, or cured ham, all over Barcelona. I am sure there are traditionalists that would say these larger plates of cured meat are not technically considered tapas, but I kind of don’t care. Jamon Serrano, and the more rare Jamon Iberico, are two of the many reasons why I would move to Spain in heartbeat. All freshly sliced to order, I love seeing the look of pure delight on Eric’s face when they put a plate of cured meat in front of him. He is like a child Christmas morning.
Pimientos de Padron
This is one particular dish which seems to be all over the place in Spain, but does not often find its way onto the menus at tapas bars outside of the country. It is too bad, because pimientos de padron are one of my favorites, and should be shared! They are simple, fried peppers, and although they generally are sweet, there can be a spicy one or two stuck in the pile. And, as much as I sound like a broken record, they make a great bar snack because they are often generously sprinkled with salt. It is almost like the Spanish pepper version of a plate of potato chips, making them one of the ideal tapas in Barcelona.
This particular plate of cheese was at a little local’s bar, just around the corner from the apartment we rented in Barcelona. It was certainly a moment of living like locals in Barcelona, when we made a technical stop for some cheese and beer before taking a little siesta. Okay, I don’t know how many locals actually spend their afternoons doing that sort of thing, but I communicated in Spanish with the owner, so I at least felt like a local.
This plate of albondigas, or meatballs, may look like a sloppy, splashy mess, but they were the perfect weekend breakfast food (that’s right, breakfast, with my glass of cava) at a counter at my favorite food market in Barcelona. Slathered in a tangy garlicky tomato sauce, they are eaten all day long.
I am sure there is some fancy Spanish term for sausages like these, but this was a go to snack for Eric. He would see a giant vat of sausages in olive oil at one of the tapas bars we frequented and before we could decide on anything else to eat, he pointed, ordered, and we found ourselves with a small dish of sausages in front of us. He was sneaky like that.
Pan con Tomate
A speciality in the region, pan con tomato can be found on lists of tapas in Barcelona, but also is served with almost every meal, and even for breakfast. Generally day old bread is warmed, garlic is rubbed along the top, and the tomato rubbed as the final ingredient. It is a staple of the Catalan diet.
For me, it was a nice little treat, but we did not often order it because Eric does not like tomatoes. I think I offended many a server in Barcelona by declining their offer for pan con tomato. They were left in disbelief when I declined, but I generally was able to blame it on Eric, like any normal wife would do.
Although I continue to struggle with when to eat in Spain, what I love about tapas in Barcelona is that it is easy to find them pretty much all day, every day. And, for that, I am thankful.
For you Barcelona foodies out there, what did I miss? What should I try to track down next time? What is your favorite plate of tapas in Barcelona?
For more tips and stories on Spain, check out the With Husband In Tow Spain Food Travel Guide!