Sniffing for the best tapas in Barcelona? Stop your wet nose here!
¡Hola, escapaders! It’s time to mark up the captivating city of Barcelona, Spain. Besides spectacular beaches, stunning architecture, rich Catalonian history, and die-hard sports fans, Barcelona is internationally known for its scrumptious (or in my terms, to-beg-for) cuisine. Tapas bars are undoubtedly the happening places to be for two very good reasons – the scene is beyond lively and, most importantly, the food is chops-lickin’ good. Sniff out my 10 BEST Tapas in Barcelona:
#1 Paella de Mariscos (Seafood Paella)
When you visit this global coastal city, you gotta treat yourself to some seafood paella. Whether you get it as a dish or tapa, you will leave the table with your tail wagging. Typically cooked in a steel pan, the signature rice dish of Spain is one meal that you can’t help but devour over and over during your visit. Originated in Barcelona’s coastal neighbor, Valencia, seafood paella consists of Spanish rice cooked with an array of sniff-worthy spices (specifically saffron) and FRESH seafood (usually shrimp, mussels, clams, calamari among other options). Oh yea, don’t forget to squeeze that lemon wedge for a zesty finish. *Vegetable paellas are widely available in restaurants for veggie lovers.
#2 Calamar a la Plancha y Espárragos (Grilled Calamari and Asparagus)
One cannot leave Barcelona without trying this dainty combination! Sure, you can order calamari by itself and it’ll be awesome. But add asparagus to the mix and it’ll be jaw-droppin’ AMAZING. Calamari and asparagus make one incredible team; think about it – the crunchiness of asparagus (whether green or white) complements the softness of the tasty grilled calamari. Together, they are full of flavor – not too heavy and not too light, but JUST right. It’s more than a treat, but a real delicacy to satisfy my little Yorkie tummy.
#3 Patatas Bravas (Spicy Potatoes)
Wooooof, es tiempo para patatas! My love for potatoes isn’t the only reason why I love this popular tapa; it’s a fun, appetizing, and filling snack that goes hand-in-hand with a refreshing cold beer or sangria. Think home fries with a spicy Spanish flare. Served with a somewhat spicy olive oil-based aioli (or sometimes with a tomato-based sauce such as ketchup doctored-up with spices), the potatoes are lightly fried so the outside is a tad crispy while the inside is soft and melts magically in your mouth. Mmmm.
#4 Jamon (Cured Ham)
My humans may not eat much meat, but I sure love mine – at least on occasion. My ancestral instincts make me a sucker for Jamon, the popular dry-cured ham in Spain. Jamon is ubiquitous in Spain with each region contributing its distinctive version of this delicious treat (e.g. Jamon Iberico, Jamon serrano). Yet Barcelona is no exception. You’ll effortlessly find yourself surrounded by GIGANTIC pork legs, which are expertly-preserved for future consumption, hanging from the ceiling of any cerveseria or restaurant that you enter. Traditionally served as thin slices of cured meat, Jamon is toy-sized snacks that you can enjoy anywhere: whether at a family-run spot or “gotta wear my tux”-type restaurant. It’s savory and succulent with a unique texture and smell.
#5 Flautas (Petite Baguette Sandwiches)
Arrrrf, time to eat with your paws! Don’t overlook these mini baguette sandwiches in Barcelona. They may be simple, but they are a common staple among the locals. These tasty sandwiches are casually grabbed on-the-way to work or enjoyed while dining-in for breakfast or lunch. The bread is always fresh and crunchy (yet never teeth-crushing) and you can select from a variety of meats, cheeses, and veggies. YUM!
If flautas are too small for your BIG appetite, go for a traditional bocadillo – a sandwich with simple yet tasty fillings (with light mayo and maybe a few slices of tomatoes and lettuce) served on a 6-8 inch baguette.
#6 Montaditos (Mini Open-Faced Sandwiches)
Montaditos, montaditos, montaditos! OK – it’s not just a fun word to say, but it’s also a fun snack and one of the best tapas in Barcelona! The foundation of a montadito is a Yorkie-sized slice of bread. Completing the roll can be one of the countless DEEELICIOUS toppings: shrimp, calamari, chicken, cheese, Jamon, imitation crab meat, and the list BARKS on. Most toppings are mixed with mouthwatering sauces and ingredients, thus, creating innumerable distinctive flavors.
#7 Brocheta de Camarones y Setas (Shrimp and Mushroom Skewer)
I lick my plate clean whenever I have the brocheta de camarones y setas here. Always marvelously seasoned and grilled so perfectly that you can’t just eat one skewer. Oh, so juicy, aromatic, delectable, and downright dreamy with every single bite. Seriously, order two and you’ll thank me later. You’ll have to get a lick to believe it! Get them at the uber famous sister restaurants Cerveseria Ciutat Comtal (Rambla de Catalunya, 18, 08007) OR Cerveseria Catalana (Carrer de Mallorca, 236, 08008).
#8 Ensalada de Camarones (Shrimp Salad)
Wooof-Hooo, I love Ensalada de Camarones! As a coastal city, Barcelona has an abundant supply of high-quality seafood, especially shrimp. Ensalada de Camarones is one of the best tapas in Barcelona. Its super refreshing taste sets off nostalgia – it takes me back to my lovely puppy picnics many dog years ago. Quality shrimp, chunky imitation crab meat, cherry tomatoes, and lemon juice are meshed miraculously with spices to make this one exquisite appetizer. Again, try them at the famous sister restaurants Cerveseria Ciutat Comtal (Rambla de Catalunya, 18, 08007) OR Cerveseria Catalana (Carrer de Mallorca, 236, 08008)
#9 Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelette)
Craving for something filling, yet tasty for breakfast in Barcelona? Opt for the Spanish staple, tortilla española. I could scarf one down right now. What’s so special about this omelet? Once again, it’s patatas! The eggs bind the potatoes together to give this dish some real shape, making it look more like a breakfast pie than an omelette. The potatoes and eggs are lightly seasoned, then baked together for a light, yet surprisingly savory flavor. CAUTION: Very filling!
#10 Queso Manchego y Pan con Tomate (Manchego Cheese and Tomato Bread)
Amazing when enjoyed together, the popular tapas of queso manchego and pan con tomate are the epitome of Spanish tastiness in simplicity. It’s easy to understand why this city has a love affair with manchego cheese; its sharp nutty flavor has me licking my chops right upon first sight. And, pan con tomate is its fabulous sidekick: toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic and topped with fresh tomato spread makes this one light, refreshing treat.
IT’S BONUS TIME!
BONUS #1: Morcilla (Blood Sausage)
OKAY, morcilla is not exactly my pick for the “BEST” tapas in Barcelona, but I have to bark that it may still be a “MUST-TRY” (one time) for those daring carnivore foodies. Although they can easily be used as a prop in the game show Fear Factor, these dark, uninviting, and thick sausages are an authentic Spanish delicacy; however, that doesn’t mean that you should pass up an opportunity to try one for yourself. It’s no false advertisement because these sausages are surely made out of “blood” (i.e. dried up pork blood and fat). The flavor is strong and unique. The texture is similar to a moist chocolate cake…? Wait, that can’t be right, can it? Hah, there is the only way to find out! Gaining experience should always be an objective when traveling so you might as well check off this mystery from your list while in Barcelona – if you dare.
BONUS #2: Sangria
Don’t forget to complement your tapas with a glass (or perhaps a pitcher to share) of cold sangría! Generally made with delicious red wine, orange juice or brandy, and a variety of fresh chopped fruit (apples, oranges, and lemon/lime slices), sangria is another MUST-TRY in the city. Due to its dulcet flavor, sangrias probably shouldn’t be consumed too much right before your meal – otherwise, the sweetness will surely kill your appetite. I love scarfing down the chopped apples and oranges for dessert!
That’s it, escapaders! Hope you enjoy all my picks for the best tapas in Barcelona, one of the most sensational international cities in the world. Feel free to share your favorites by barking a comment below.
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Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob
*This post originally appeared as a guest post on travelingninetofiver