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By Regina W Bryan in Barcelona—
Spanish food and wine is as diverse as the many regions that make up the Iberian Peninsula. Here I narrow in on a few must-eats in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain!
You can’t come to Spain and not have tapas, which are like appetizers. In some parts of the country (especially the south) when you order a beer or Coke they give you a plate of tapas for free (chips, olives, nuts), but don’t get too excited because this never happens in Barcelona. You have to pay for your tapas here, each and every one.
Stacked tapas, or Basque-style tapas (“pintxos”), are usually the most expensive, but it’s a lot of fun to eat them standing up in a crowded bar. Other tapas can be anything from mushrooms in garlic and white wine sauce, to Manchego cheese slices to fried squid.
I recommend “patatas bravas” for a cheap, filling and yummy tapas snack. You can get them everywhere in Barcelona. Don’t pay more that €4.00 for “patatas bravas,” after all, they’re just potatoes with hot sauce….
Tapas pick: ‘Cala de Vermut’
C/ Copons, 2
2. Fidueá + Alioli
Spanish rice, “paella,” is famous ’round the world, but its Catalan cousin, fideuá, is not as well known. I prefer fideuá to paella, as it is made with small pasta noodles instead of rice and usually served with a potent side of garlicky mayo called “alioli.”
Fideuá usually has seafood in it, especially squid, but can be made with sausage or chicken as well, it just depends on the restaurant. Like paella, fideuá is usually made for two people, and runs about €10-15 per person.
If you are traveling solo and don’t have another person to share lunch with, try to find a “menu del dia” (daily lunch special) that includes fideuá as one of the dishes. A “menu del dia” will set you back around €9-20, depending on how fancy the eatery is.
Fideuá pick: ‘Maians’
Carrer de Sant Carles, 28
Paella pick: ‘Restaurante Salamanca 2’
Finally, you’ll want to wash all this delicious Spanish/Catalan grub down with a bottle of “cava.” A sparkling wine a lot like Champagne, cava is served in most restaurants and bars in Barcelona.
Stay away from the sugar and order a “Brut Nature” cava, which is dry and goes well with savory foods. That’s the thing about cava, it is served with tapas, with main courses, and with dessert, too! Very versatile, this is one of the preferred beverages in Catalunya. A glass should cost about €5 and up.
Cava pick: La Champañería
Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 13
4. Fresh Squeezed O.J.
Okay, I realize orange juice is served internationally, and we can’t call it solely Spanish and certainly not Catalan. However, all the freshly squeezed O.J. served up in Barcelona bars did surprise me when I first came to the city six years ago, and continues to be something I really enjoy.
When you order an orange juice in almost any bar or cafe in the city, the waiter will ask you, “Bottled or squeezed?” Bottled is slightly less expensive than the squeezed, but not as tasty. Squeezed O.J. is served in a goblet with a couple sugar packets on the side, in case the oranges were not sweet enough for your taste.
Anything tasty to add?
Do you have another cheap must-try Catalan dish to add to our list? Tell us about it in our comments section.