Barcelona Cheap Eats: 4 local dishes worth trying


Stand at the bar for a delicious tapas meal or snack. Photo: TobyM
Stand at the bar for a delicious tapas meal or snack. Photo: TobyM

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!

1. Tapas

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
Barcelona (Gothic)

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’
de Sant Carles, 28
Barcelona (Barceloneta)

Paella pick: ‘Restaurante Salamanca 2’
Barcelona (Barceloneta)

3. Cava

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
Barcelona (Port/Born)

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.

About the author

Regina W Bryan

About the author: Regina W.Bryan is a Barcelona-based freelance writer and photographer. When not eating tapas and exploring Europe, she is tending her balcony veggie garden and practicing Catalan. For more of her thoughts on Spain, check: and

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2 thoughts on “Barcelona Cheap Eats: 4 local dishes worth trying”

  1. Daniel Gillberg

    I must recommend Tapadou on Carrer de la Princesa, (close to the Picasso museum). It´s a small cosey tapas bar.
    Try to get the table in the “lounge” or the one just by the window. They have tapas from 1 Euro and up but most of them between 1-2.5 Euros and its delicious.

  2. Hello,

    so here are my recommendations, what we found after our visit to barcelona this summer:
    – be careful with the paella they offer you, there is a type of paella that is frozen and many restaurants have them advertised, you can easily spot on the sign and remember that even though the prices vary from place to place, the crappy paella is the same frozen food (it can go from 8 euros to 12 near the beach). This goes for spagetti carbonara and bolognese.

    – we found this amazing restaurant (sadly only on the last day of our trip) and it was the best food we ate while we were there: it is called TRA.BAL and it is located in Balmes 203, 08006 Barcelona. The menu for lunch was 8,99 and the food was exquisite! we ate a small piece of paella that was worth the whole paella we ate earlier that week on a crappy frozen place somewhere. The street is near the MACBA museum and very close by the ramblas and plaza catalunya. PLEASE look for this restaurant, i can’t say enough good things about it!

    – near the restaurant, a little bit up the street to plaza catalunya there is an amazing sandwich shop, with baguettes that are good for 2. they are big and they offer you a drink for.. 3.50.. and the quality is amazing, i am still dreaming of that small shop. sadly i don’t know the name, the girl at the front of the shop was very very rude, but the food was so good we kept going there for the whole week and just ignored her!

    hope your visit is good, we didn’t find those many great restaurants, we ate at some traditional ones, but they were either too greasy, too expensive, or just plain frozen.



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